Blog Post 6: Tyler Chandler

Yesterday we had Tyler Chandler, the state director of After School All Stars, visit us as a guest speaker.

I learned about three different areas in writing in the non-profit world, that one can get into. The first area is, of course, writing grant proposals, which can be for programming grants (money that would come in to an organization to fund “hands on” work) or for capital grants (money that would come in for a new building or playground, etc.). The second area is in public relations and advertising, according to Tyler Chandler, non-profits are 50% what they do and 50% perception, which is why it’s critical that they look good in order to grow and continuously get funded. The third area is more technical writing for the organizations, such as programming and curriculum, to put in print exactly what and how they do.

Two things that I believe I can put into practice from what he said are to try to get grants that are for 3-5 years, in order to get sustainability, and to keep track of every single dime that would come from a grant proposal that I have written, because you and your organization will be held accountable by funders. Also, he mentioned how important it is for a grant writer to get involved and learn how their non-profit works so that they know exactly what they are talking about when writing a grant. I believe that was the most important take away from everything that he said. Knowing exactly what your organization does and needs makes for an efficient grant.

Blog Post 5: Jason and Jennifer Helvenston

This week we had Jason and Jennifer Helvenston as our guest speakers. They are the founders of Growing Food, an organization dedicated to growing healthy food and the community coming together to help each other grow food and have healthier eating habits.

While their presentation was full of information, what I learned about writing in the non-profit world is that it is critical how you word something in order to be considered “legit” or get what you want/need but still do exactly what is says in your print. They mentioned knowing many organization whose mission on paper is completely different from what they actually do. I thought it was interesting that they mentioned that before sending in their paperwork to the IRS, they started out with one wording and ended up changing it almost completely.

I was very surprised to hear how much paperwork is involved in getting a 501(c)3 status. My church is going through the same process at the moment, so I knew it was a lot of work and important to have an accountant, however, I never realized how tedious it truly was. As someone who would eventually like to start a nonprofit organization, I’m starting to realize that I have more work ahead of me than I imagined.

Based on what I learned from this presentation, I think in the future I will continue asking for second or third opinions on my writing. Since wording is so important, I would like to make sure that my word choices are very clear and that there is as little room for misinterpretation as possible.

Blog Post 4 Angela White-Jones Reflection

Today we were visited by Angela White-Jones. She is the Grants Officer for Quest Inc. I learned quite a lot from her visit. I truly enjoyed it and got a new perspective on grant writing. 

I learned about that Quest generates 30 million dollars a year and employ 700 people, which was very surprising about a non-profit organization. I loved learning that grant writing never goes of style and is “recession proof” as she said. 

Though, I already had an idea that no two grants are the same, it was surprising to learn that they always make a completely new grants based on the requirements of the funder and that some of them are so detailed, that they can be up 250 pages long. I remember thinking that it must be terrible if they go through all that hard work when the funders may not even be interested in the grants until she mentioned the letter of inquiry as a sort of “application” for permission to submit a proposal to a funder who’s interested.

Out of everything that she said, what stood out the most was how much she networks with people face to face and/or over the phone. She gave an example that she called a huge foundation and even though it was a long shot, they go funded by that foundation. She also mentioned that if her proposal gets rejected she usually calls the company and asks why over the phone, to see what she can improve. She also mentioned, that Quest is currently working with Ikea and she got that connection at a birthday party through a friend of a friend, it made me realize that she is always aware and networking and that a great quality to have as a grant writer is alertness of connections and resources. I also admired how fearless she is, it’s important in the non-profit world to be a go-getter and leave fear aside. 

Something that I would probably work better on as a potential job applicant would be sharpening my social skills. I‘m somewhat introverted and I don’t always have a lot of confidence when meeting new people, so I know that it’s definitely something to work on. While I knew it was important, I didn’t realize how critical it could be until Angela spoke to us.

Blog Post 3 Grant Analysis

Looking at the five grants proposals was a really interesting experience because I always wondered what a grant  proposal “looked like” but it’s a very diverse genre. I noticed that though they are all very different in style but that they all had quite a lot in common. 

Distinguishing characteristics that the 5 grant proposals included:

  • Mission of the organization
  • Purpose of the organization
  • Statistics to show why the existence of the organization is beneficial (Most, though not all, used resources to back up those statistics.)
  • Information to increase their credibility (usually statistics of what they already accomplished, this includes, amount of people they have helped, awards they have received, amount of money they raised for their cause in the past, etc. They may also name organizations that support them, that are already credible such as, Publix or Bank of America)
  • Challenges that they are facing or may face and strategies to overcome them.
  • Why they need help from the foundations they are writing to.
  • Amount of money needed to accomplish their goals
  • What they plan on doing with their grants in detail.
  • Projected date to accomplish their goals or make a change in their communities.
  • Detailed plan of their end goals.

I found the biggest difference to be the structure. Two of the proposals (from Building Tomorrow and Southeast Community College) had a pre-prepared form with instructions from the foundations that they had to fill out, they seemed more like a “grant application”. While the other three seemed to be more “free” in what they wrote, two of them (Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine and Quest, Inc) seemed more organized and structured in their proposals because they had various headings and sections to organize their ideas and information, while the other one (Lexington Habitat For Humanity) seemed to intertwine their information and make it flow all together. Another small differences, was the type of statistics and resource used but a lot of it seemed to depend on what the goals of the organizations were. For example, Quest and Lakeland Volunteers had completely different goals, so naturally their information was varied.

I believe that what makes an effective grant proposal is having clear defined goals, it is critical that the funders know exactly what they are supporting and where their money and/or services are helping accomplished. It’s very important to clearly state your vision, short term goals, and long term goals, as well as dates. I also believe that it is extremely important to list resources when using statistics and having good credibility, it’s beneficial to have proof of what has been accomplished in the past, along with realistic goals, to prove that what you want can be accomplished.

Blog Post 2: Rhetorical Analysis (Adult Literacy League)

I was interested in knowing how the Adult Literacy League uses their website to communicate different messages to their various audiences (potential volunteers, potential donors, and potential students). I figured that it must be difficult for the rhetor to communicate with all of these types of people at once, since they have different necessities. Potential students might not be able to read with the same capabilities that potential volunteers or donors can and they don’t need to be persuaded to be apart of the organization as much as the potential volunteers and donors. 

http://www.adultliteracyleague.org is the link to the official website of the Adult Literacy League

Some of the elements that I analyzed were the simplicity of the website and the language that they used and the techniques used by the rhetor to appeal to the various types of people that might visit their website.

When I first entered the home page, the first thing that stood out to me was a slide show with 5 rotating graphics and links. The first of a man, named Chris, who earned his GED with the organization’s help, although it offers a link where you can get more information about their “Summer Literacy Campaign” and how you can help, the enthusiasm with which the image is presented and the smile on the Chris’s face creates a positive connection for people who want to be students, donors, or volunteers. The image says “Chris earned his GED, after studying with us!” in big letters, however the “studying with us” half of the sentence is in red font and underlined to make it stand out from the rest of the sentence, which gives the message to the audience that “they are that good”. The second image very simply says “Need Help?” in big bold font, followed by “click here to get started” with an open book in the background which is clearly a link to for potential students, I think that it’s great because it’s simple and to the point with basic word choices. The third image is also a very simple image giving statistics of the accomplishments of the organization within the last year, it’s using numbers as opposed to wording to get a message across, that again, can reach multiple audiences, this is also an example of the Ethos appeal because it show’s everything that has been and can be accomplished within the organization. The fourth image says “Become a Tutor Today” in bold letters which says “change someone’s life… one page at a time” which is using the Pathos appeal to make potential tutors feel that they have the potential to truly influence the life of others. The fifth image has a large, bold title that says “How Your Donation Can Help” which is clearly for potential donors and gives many examples of how certain amounts of money can help students, I believe that this uses a mixture of the Ethos, Logos, and Pathos appeals because it is telling potential donors, how they would be helping and benefiting other’s lives, where their money is going, and everything that organization does with it. 

The next thing that stood out to me was that at the right hand corner of the homepage, it gives you the option to view the entire website in Spanish, which is great because they offer ESOL programs because some student’s may be interested in learning English as their second language and Spanish is one of the most common second languages in the area. In my opinion, that is a great tool for a literacy organization’s website to have. 

Through out the website, there are five tabs, “What We Do”, “Need Help”, “Why Literacy Matters”, “Get Involved”, “Tutors”, “Who we are”, and “Contact”. 

Under the “Why Literacy Matters” tab (http://www.adultliteracyleague.org/why-literacy-matters/), it says “One in every five Central Florida adults reads at or below the 5th grade level. For them, simple everyday tasks present real problems. Reading product labels, following street signs or filling out job applications can be difficult and frustrating.” It made me wonder if someone at that reading level can read and understand the information on that page, so I had my sister who is in her first month of 5th grade read the website and she was able to comprehend everything easily. 

Through out the website after pressing the tabs, there are various links specifically for classes (http://www.adultliteracyleague.org/classes/), volunteers (, tutors, or donations, which makes it a lot more simple for the rhetor to direct their messages and accommodate to the necessities of their audiences.

I found this research useful because it shows that there are simple ways to reach multiple types of people, without being cluttered like many other websites. Also, that less is more. They are direct and straight to the point but still give people all of the information that they want and the facility to take the next step whether it’s donating, volunteering, tutoring, attending classes, contacting them, etc. It’s a great format/template for any non-profit organization’s website to follow.