Small investments can have a big pay-off

Investing in a consultant to assist with your grant applications or proposals can have a big payoff.  Some of the services a consultant can provide include:

  • Researching and evaluating grant opportunities
  • Writing compelling, succinct answers to the questions posed in the application, based on raw information you provide.
  • Conducting research to demonstrate the need for the program or service.
  • Contacting the funding body to clarify eligibility criteria and submission requirements.
  • Collating all the documents required as part of the final submission.
  • Completing a final check for accuracy, completeness, and consistency prior to submission.

You may be wondering if it is worth the effort to orient a consultant to your organization and programs just so that he or she can assist you with one proposal.  However, an experienced consultant who is familiar with your sector can efficiently gather the necessary information to complete your proposal and work seamlessly with you and your team.  A few hours of work can result in significant financial benefits.

As an example, last week I received the good news that I was successful in helping a client obtain a 6-figure grant from the government.  For this client, the cost of my services was small in relation to the amount of the grant.

Feel free to get in touch if you would like to know more about how I can assist your team with an application or proposal.

Volunteer recognition doesn’t need to be expensive

The theme of my last blog post was Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) and I am thinking of that again today as I read a hand-written thank-you note from the executive director of an agency I volunteer with.  As a volunteer and a prior manager of volunteers, I know that volunteers don’t want much, just:

  • An opportunity to apply their skills to make a difference in their community,
  • Recognition that they are a part of the team, and
  • An occasional heart-felt thank you for their work.

So, during National Volunteer Week, I encourage you to keep it simple: thank your volunteers for their work and let them know their work has an impact.  It doesn’t need to be a big event and you don’t need to spend money on gifts.  It doesn’t matter what your role is in the organization.  Just say thank-you. 

Click here for some other thoughts on creating a great volunteer experience.

KISS at work

A recent project I completed underscored the wisdom of the KISS acronym: Keep It Simple Stupid.  I was asked to develop training tools to introduce some procedural and database changes to a large team of volunteers.  An initial brainstorming session with the team generated ideas about video production using educational software.  However, it soon became apparent that we would need a less sophisticated solution to meet a tight timeline, accommodate the organization’s IT capacity and work within the budget.  By keeping our plan simple, I was able to deliver a training solution that was well-received and cost-effective to implement over a large geography.  The project was completed on time and on budget.

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A Year of Discovery

Last year, when I was starting my consulting business and worrying about many things, a wise friend of mine said, “you know what, people want you to succeed.”  As I look back over the past year, I can’t help but recognize the truth in that statement.  My journey began with family members who offered their design and communications skills to build my brand and my website.  Then a friend subcontracted me for my first job to get me started.  Then a previous colleague called about a contract.  Then a new acquaintance referred me to a potential client.

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What’s your pain?

It’s the end of the month and time to sit down to invoice my clients.  Many small business owners dread this ritual but for me, it is pretty simple.  I have an app on my phone that I use to track my hours on each client’s project.  At the end of the day, I transfer those hours to a spreadsheet which keeps a running tally of each project’s hours.  I have an invoice template so it is quick and easy to to create an invoice for each client.  The amount of each invoice is transferred to a spreadsheet where I track payments along with all my expenses.  A quick glance at the spreadsheet reveals who’s paid, who hasn’t and whether I made a profit that month.  If my list of active clients gets long, I can easily automate more of these processes.

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Let’s be smart about marijuana education (and program evaluation)

As the federal government launches a multi-year, $36 million initiative regarding marijuana education, it’s instructive to look back on past anti-drug programs to see what we learned.  Remember the DARE program?  Drug Abuse Resistance Education was a drug education program targeted at American middle school children in which police officers went into schools to teach about the dangers of drug use.  Evaluation guru Michael Patton reports on how thousands of local and national evaluations of DARE were conducted.  Those evaluations showed consistently that the program was not effective.  Patton states, “I know of no program that has been so thoroughly evaluated with such consistently negative results – and yet remains widely popular.”

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The need for changes in seniors’ healthcare, or else…..

Last month, a senior relative of mine decided she needed to go to emergency.  She had a sudden onset of back pain and some other issues that her GP had not resolved.  So, living alone, she called the paramedics and went to the hospital.  When she told me her plan to go to the ER, I thought it was perhaps unnecessary and tried to gently talk her into waiting it out overnight, but to no avail.

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Brainstorming for new perspectives

Sometimes you need a new perspective on an old issue.  That’s why I recently used the TRIZ brainstorming technique with a group I am working with.  TRIZ is a Russian term that translates to “inventive theory of problem solving.”  This technique encourages people to imagine a workplace process failing, instead of succeeding.  The behaviours that lead to such failure are listed and the group then considers whether they are currently exhibiting those behaviours and, if so, discusses how to change that behaviour.

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