The other day I mentioned to a couple of women that I was lifting weights in the gym.
I was surprised at the responses that I got.
“Pam! That’s not good for you!”
“Yeah, you never want to use weights heavier than 5 pounds or so …”
Frankly I thought that the myths about women and weight lifting had been put to rest years ago.
I have been using weights – dumbbells from 5 to 35 pounds and a barbell loaded at 45-125 pounds – for a number of years. Truth is, the heavier I lifted, the leaner I got. As a matter of fact I joined a gym recently so that I would have heavier weights at my disposal.
As a female, the simple fact is that I don’t have much testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for increasing muscle size. Most female bodybuilders, unfortunately, use anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) along with other drugs in order to get that high degree of muscularity that turns a lot of women off to weight training.
There is also the common myth that women only need to do cardio and if they decide to lift weights, they should be very light. First of all, if you only did cardio then muscle and fat would be burned for fuel. Women need to lift weights in order to get the muscle building machine going and thus prevent any loss of muscle tissue – not to mention bone loss. Women who choose to concentrate on cardio will have a very hard time achieving true results and will, in the long run, lose both muscle mass and bone density. As far as the lifting of very light weights, this is just more baloney. Muscle responds to resistance and if the resistance is too light, then there will be no reason for the body to change.
So, what, pray-tell does women’s weight lifting have to do with writing grant proposals?
Well, just like women and weight lifting, a lot of myths have built up around writing grant proposals over the years. Here are just a few:
We can’t rely on foundation funding.
Truth: Nonsense. I have worked with organizations that derive a good 70-80% of their overall budgets from foundation funding. And, while diversified, sustainable funding is important, there is no reason why, with a well run system of developing compelling proposals and sending and tracking your grant requests and reports on a regular basis, you can’t begin relying on foundation grant funding for a major portion of your budget today – while you build “multiple streams of income.”
The “XYZ” Organization’s board member knows one of the trustees at the “XYZ foundation.” We don’t know anyone.
Truth: Yes, building relationships is crucial to establishing a pattern of growing foundation grants. And, yes, cultivating relationships with foundation funders takes time. But, in less than one month I was able to raise over $55,000 in foundation grant funding from foundations with which my organization had no prior relationships. Some grants were sizable … others fell into the $250 to $500 range. I didn’t “know” anyone at any of these foundations.
And, if you’re not in the habit of regularly submitting proposals, how will you establish relationships with funders in the first place?
Foundation grants are large and come from large foundations. They wouldn’t be interested in our modest non-profit.
Truth: See above. A veritable plethora of smaller, little known foundations exist throughout the United States, with assets of $1.5 million or less. And by virtue of their very size they often require little more than a letter of application. Learn how to locate and target these foundations, and, most importantly, when to target them.
XYZ Foundation only supports grants for education and human services. They wouldn’t even look at our arts program …
Truth: Don’t be too sure of that. Many development professionals make this common mistake. When I was seeking funding for a crucial component of an organization I worked with I came across a regional foundation with the some of the most specific funding criteria I’ve ever seen. My organization was health-related but we certainly didn’t have anything to do with their pet cause, Crohn’s Disease, yet I managed, with a single one page letter, to generate the funding necessary to buy expensive and very much-needed equipment.
Foundations don’t support funding for general operating support.
Truth: Here’s a common misconception that I took away from spending six years working in programming for one of the nation’s largest foundations. My foundation did not generally support general operating costs, however nearly 70% of the family and corporate foundations in the United States do. Trends in grant making change and project-based funding is being reevaluated. Recently the Center for Effective Philanthropy, after surveying 20,00 grantees and 79 foundation executives, noted that foundations “should make larger, longer-term operating grants” of unrestricted funds that can be used to support the organization and its overall mission, not just specific projects or programs.
Finally – when it comes to the one-person development shop, I am all about finding the most effective ways to raise the most amount of money with the least amount of effort – and establishing creative systems to do it. There’s a big difference between being busy and being effective. Frankly I do not have the time or energy to bust my butt in a 90 minute high impact aerobic class every day when 25 minutes of lifting heavy weights three or four times a week will yield much better results.
By incorporating a grants system, one that includes regular, weekly research, I’ve found that an organization can develop a reliable base of funding.
What myths about grant proposal writing do you believe?
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