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July 31, 2019 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Nonprofit AF imagines the answers on grant proposals if non-profits were brutally honest with funders (Part 2, Part 3) posted by adrianhon (17 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
You definitely want to read the comments on this one.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

My job is to write these questions on grant applications. I probably love this more than anyone else.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:44 PM on July 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

My job is to write these questions on grant applications.

You monster. /grantwriter
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:46 PM on July 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

I LOVE these, and they really do hit on some serious problems in how grant funding often works. Nothing like hearing "applying for and administering this grant will take approximately 100 work hours, but you cannot use this grant to pay for any of that staff time, because then we can say that 100% of our funding goes directly to programs!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:50 PM on July 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

Don't shoot the messenger. I just plug whatever the companies/foundations give me into our database. I know exactly how stupid they are, but just following orders and all that. I had one today for a European bank asking "Have you ever been convicted of terrorism? If so please explain." That's one of my favorite. Another time I had a series of like six questions about what animals your nonprofit serves (what animals, what breeds, what activities, etc.) for a beer donation form at a craft brewery.

The thing I don't understand, and we laugh about all the time is, it's not like the grantmakers want to read these answers any more than grantwriters want to answer them. But it's part of the dance I guess. Pays my rent.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:53 PM on July 31, 2019 [10 favorites]

And for advocacy grants... "What is your month-by-month timeline for results under this grant? Yes, I know that our funding schedule means you will not receive this money for 8 months, by which point the political context will be completely different."

And grants in developing countries... "What are the precise demographics of your potential beneficiaries? What do you mean 'that information doesn't exist because nobody has done a detailed population survey of rural Afghanistan recently'?"
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:54 PM on July 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

Weeping softly.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:57 PM on July 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

No messenger-shooting here! I'm glad to have thoughtful people working on both sides. And I'm sure you all get tired of reading my many synonyms for "impact."

I had one today for a European bank asking "Have you ever been convicted of terrorism? If so please explain." That's one of my favorite.

All US federal grants I've worked on have a clause in them saying that you affirm the funds will not be used to fund terrorism. It's pretty funny when that shows up in, like, an application for arts funding. But believe it or not, a place I used to work for once accidentally ran afoul of that clause. They rented office space in an African country from a local, and then found out that the local had ties to a terrorist group. They had to move out REAL FAST once they got wind of it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:59 PM on July 31, 2019 [11 favorites]

Have you ever been convicted of terrorism? If so please explain.

Not convicted, no.
posted by allegedly at 4:10 PM on July 31, 2019 [17 favorites]

Oh man, that sweet spot when you can't tell whether I'm laughing or sobbing. Yeah, I just hit that.
posted by kalimac at 4:11 PM on July 31, 2019

A good friend and I met while working in one non-profit, and have spent the last nearly 20 years separately working for various ones while sharing gripes about the funding system. We met for drinks last week and basically had this conversation. I’ve forwarded the link to her so that we can both laugh bitterly together.
posted by billiebee at 4:16 PM on July 31, 2019

These are only sadly funny unfortunately.

A colleague recently had a successful application for ecological site repair (no matter what we think they are not restorations, but that's by the by) - it was around NZ$70k - the reporting requirement would have sucked up at least half of it so he had to turn it down.

Even applying for moderate sums (much less than $100k) can take dozens of hours. Pretty much everything here (even - especially - government funding, even for things like terrain data collection) has become contestable.
posted by unearthed at 4:34 PM on July 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

hahahahahahahaha oh wow, this is spot on....
posted by lazaruslong at 4:45 PM on July 31, 2019

I've been on both sides of this coin and am now the coin counter (read: yellow book auditor - public accounting). Joking aside, I've been coming around to the conclusion that most non-profits are both band-aids for problems that should be solved by local, state, and federal governments directly, and red herrings for capitalists to point to whenever we want our basic needs met. On the one hand, if the local homeless shelter stopped doing what it was doing, countless people would die. On the other hand, we could do away with the vast majority of homelessness by building and operating more shelters or just giving people homes. We wouldn't even have to justify how it would stimulate the local economy (lizard people concern when talking about housing people). We could just house people.

My sense is that the questions like the bullshit-go-fuck-yourself questions in the link are originally incepted due to shill capitalists raising bad-faith questions in and around public hearings. It may be a good-intentioned worker that comes up with the specific verbage, but it was lizard people's doing. They do this to get the funds in and around their various grifts (looking at you, commodified tax credits for construction of affordable housing that doesn't have to be affordable in perpetuity). Every project that just fucking helps people doesn't pass muster because lizard people didn't get into government to help people. That's why they ask bullshit questions at hearings and grandstand like they're going to be interviewed by Fox Fucking News afterwards.

If the responsibilities of non-profits were really the responsibilities of the various levels of government, and we had state and national governments that didn't come into being just to help white male slave owners keep what they stole, we could hold the government directly accountable for meeting the needs of the populace. As it stands now, every mistake by a non-profit anywhere is an excuse not to fund non-profits everywhere, and the granting agencies can just cut the funding and absolve themselves of any negative fallout.
posted by avalonian at 5:00 PM on July 31, 2019 [34 favorites]

Not convicted, no.
posted by allegedly

Mmm hmm...
posted by traveler_ at 6:06 PM on July 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oh, my god....I used to write grant applications for a couple of nonprofit theater companies, and it was always 5,000 different ways of saying, "We want to do the theater and have kids do the theater and your money will pay for us to do the theater, it's all very simple really." I needed to see this.
posted by xingcat at 6:16 AM on August 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thank you so much for posting this.

My colleague and I got our proposal in on time yesterday, yay!
posted by brainwane at 8:40 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

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