Category Archives: Start-Up

Keeping It Together


by Deborah Griffiths — author of The Grant Writing and Funding Coach

A Happy New Year to you. January 1, was the first splash into 2018 waters. Now, marking the new lunar year with Chinese New Year festivities will follow. One more revolution around the sun. Most, during this journey, have contingency plans for keeping it together on a personal or business level.

If you’re in nonprofit business, you may even be working on grant schedules covering the next 12 months or more. One of the biggest keys to success with grant applications is organization and it starts with framing a solid house for you and the funder.

A Sense of Order

Convey a sense of order in your application and you’re more than halfway to the goal line.

Why? Because it’s going to turn your process of working on an application into an enjoyable experience. It also invites the funder into a space in which you can show how you run your organization and how the project will proceed.

A Cordial Welcome for Your Letter

ladies book of etiquette1Whether you’re writing a letter of inquiry, starting a one-page application for $500, or you’re dealing with a million dollar capital project, the principle remains the same. Keep your approach aesthetically pleasing. To quote Florence Hartley from her 1860s Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, (Project Gutenberg), “Neatness is an important requisite in a letter. To send a fair, clean sheet, with the words written in a clear, legible hand, will go a great way in ensuring a cordial welcome for your letter.”

Many times, as the person writing or submitting a grant, you are the representative the organization or community is counting on to distill complex information into a succinct message that will translate into dollars. People are counting on you. Being organized will help you do that. No pressure!

Enjoyment Equals Success

spark joyOne of my favorite authors who writes about a sense of order is Marie Kondo, author of Spark Joy—(Ten Speed Press, 2016)  Kondo writes about having a sense of order about everything from folding T-shirts to treating loose change as real money instead of a storage problem.

What does t-shirt folding and organizing closets have to do with grants? Kondo’s framing of de-cluttering goes beyond closet organizing. She begins her book by writing, “The tidying process you are about to embark on is not about decluttering your house or making it look neat on the spur of the moment for visitors. Rather you are about to tidy up in a way that will spark joy in your life and change it forever.”

Kondo’s words resonated with me as I folded T-shirts and set out to write The Grant Writing and Funding Coach—Target and Acquire the Funds You Need. Without exaggeration, grants are fun — yes, I’ll use the f-word, fun — in the serious world of grants, to construct an application is fun and they can be even more enjoyable to approve. They change lives and communities forever. Beginning with, and conveying, a sense of order helps you activate those changes.

Take a Pause to Organize Your Workspace

Take some pressure off by giving yourself room to breathe and think about your project. One of the first things you can do to take that pressure off is to define your space and time.

Before you put pen to paper or your fingers to the keyboard, step back and have a look at the space you’ll be working in for the duration of looking for funds and for grant writing. For some people, this is a few days or weeks. Others get the bug and continue on.

No matter the length of time, you’ll need a workspace that clears away any clutter you might have in your mind, on your desk, or in your files. Clear the decks. Get set for a healthy, prosperous new year.

If you’d like more information, tips and suggestions for organizing and preparing for successful grant proposals and schedules, please download some free resources from my website.

9781770402881_72DPIDeborah Griffiths is a museum director, curator and author. Owner of GNG Communications she works with clients to create proposals and narratives. With an M.A. in Learning and Training, she’s authored five books and was a 2016 finalist in the BCHF’s Lieutenant Governor’s historic writing award. Self-Counsel Press Int. released her new book, The Grant Writing and Funding Coach in May 2017.  Connect with Deborah via: GNG Communications and LinkedIn

Why Crowdfunding Is a Double Win for Nonprofits


by Deborah Griffiths — author of The Grant Writing and Funding Coach

Do you work with a nonprofit organization? Have you thought about crowdfunding for special projects? Does the time you would put into learning about it or building the board’s confidence in it seem too time-consuming?

From a distance, crowdfunding looks as though it could solve numerous challenges for nonprofits. But looking at it more closely, would the time and effort spent in learning and managing this system outweigh the funds gained?

On-the-ground fundraising requires steps, measures, reporting, acknowledgement, and transparent procedures for nonprofits. Do crowdfunding providers wrap those steps into their systems? I had a chance to explore all of these questions and more with a long-time nonprofit client of mine in need of a roof for a heritage building.

Looking for the Right Fit

There are thousands of crowdfunding platforms from which to choose. How would we find the right one for this project and for future projects for the client? For staff time and management agility, we were looking for a partner we could count on for more than one project.

Exploring Reviews and Associations 

We explored reviews from professional organizations and checked with colleagues who might already be using a platform to get their feedback.

We then checked-out crowdfunding associations: the US-based National Crowdfunding Association, the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada and the UK Crowdfunding Association. These sites discuss industry standards, best practices, and have excellent tutorials, current stat reports, and interviews.

Why Go through This Vetting?

Because any donor who is serious about clicking on “contribute” to invest in a project wants assurances that their information is secure. They also want to know that the organization will acknowledge their donation and use it as intended.

Our goal was to develop an enjoyable, long-term relationship with a platform that remains current,  user-friendly and understands nonprofit business. The platform would have to offer solid payment privacy. Transparency, accountability and donor acknowledgement functions were necessary.


There are many quality platforms from which to choose. FundRazr, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and launched in 2010 by CEO Daryl Hatton, was the right fit for the roof project.

FundRazr met the society’s transparency and reporting needs. They had established a partnership with PayPal early on and had one of the first platforms to set up a system that embeds into social media. You can link your updates and posts directly into that system and members and followers can spread the word through their communities. They also have excellent information sheets, tips, and videos and a responsive support team and a Crowdfunding Success Guide. The set-up was quick.

The Campaign 

We began the campaign on July 7 and by August 23, we’d reached our goal and raised $5262.

An interesting point in the campaign occurred when we supported another community crowdfunding effort in the client’s enews simultaneous to the roof project. We received positive feedback from this in increased donations. You can read more about the details of the campaign in the Grant Writing and Funding Coach- Target and Acquire the Funds You Need.

That Double Win

Aside from the success of the campaign, I learned that crowdfunding is a double-win for nonprofits.

Why? Because, aside from donations, a community nonprofit gains significantly from a crowdfunding portal’s technical team. At least, this was our experience with FundRazr.

How does this work? From the very start, FundRazr included collaboration with a technical team that supported the campaign’s progress, advised on maximizing site use and expanding the campaign to social media.

The inherent success principle for crowdfunding providers is that, if the client does well, so do they. Thus, they build a platform that solidly supports you, the client. For the five percent that FundRazr charged, we gained an expanded professional virtual team.  If we had contracted this work, the campaign wouldn’t have been feasible. The very idea of having an adjunct fundraising team opens up new possibilities for nonprofits.

A Few Newbie Tips

* If you are thinking of trying out crowdfunding, here’s five tips for crowdfunding newbies.

* Check with an accountant before you start. Stay current with information on tax sites to ensure that your campaign fits well within provincial and federal guidelines for donations and providing charitable tax receipts.

* Try out a small feasible project first to get your bearings and to gauge what you might need for a larger campaign.

* Review the fees that the crowdfunding service provider charges and make comparisons between platforms. Some platforms have monthly fees while others charge a flat rate, a portion of which goes to the provider and a smaller percentage to the payment system. Note that you could be paying out, on average, five percent of the donations to your provider. For my client, having an extended technology team from FundRazr made this a solid investment.

* When you’re searching for a platform, ask the same questions donors would ask. How legitimate are you, how private will my information be?

* Consider whether you have enough staff to crowdfund. The process requires some time to set up and, to be successful, you’ll need follow-through. If you work with a board and volunteers these people can join your “team.” Platforms like FundRazr have a format for connecting your team and followers.

For more tips, see the Grant Writing and Funding Coach — Target and Acquire the Funds You Need

9781770402881_72DPIDeborah Griffiths is a museum director, curator and author. Owner of GNG Communications she works with clients to create proposals and narratives. With an M.A. in Learning and Training, she’s authored five books and was a 2016 finalist in the BCHF’s Lieutenant Governor’s historic writing award. Self-Counsel Press Int. released her new book, The Grant Writing and Funding Coach in May 2017.  Connect with Deborah via: GNG Communications and LinkedIn

Are You Suited to Be a Small Business Entrepreneur?

So you’re thinking of opening your own business – starting a bed and breakfast, opening a restaurant, or setting up a local grocery store. Before you set off on your entrepreneurial journey, there are certain things you need to think about and get sorted out. First of all, you need to assess yourself.

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How to Host a Healthy Holiday Event

With infectious diseases dominating headlines while flu clinics make their annual office rounds, the spread of germs has landed top of mind for many as we enter the bustling holiday season. Below are 5 simple precautions anyone preparing a holiday gathering can take to ensure their events are not gateways for infection.

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Popular Home Baking Business

A few years ago, baker and entrepreneur Mimi Fix was in the middle of major life changes and in need of a new source of income. She turned to something she was good at that she could do from home: Baking.

Ms. Fix isn’t the only one who has discovered that baking can be a boon when you want to start a business but have barely any start-up capital. It is, and perhaps always has been a business with low barriers to entry including low start-up costs, minimal education requirements, and low overhead if done from home. While many people have sold jams and pies out of their homes in the past, in recent years home-based cupcake businesses have become trendy.

Having a home-based food business is “especially helpful for people who are not satisfied in their present job or career, because it can be a way to ease into the food business without leaving the security of a job,” says Fix in her book, Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business.

People with children may also find that it is a business that can be run while caring for kids, as it can be done in their own time, without the need to pay for daycare or babysitters as they work (as long as the kids are safely out of the kitchen and all food safety rules concerning preparation are followed).

After running her own business for several years, and working in bakeries and commercial kitchens and in corporate food research and development, Fix expanded her enterprise and turned to teaching baking classes at several locations, and writing books such as Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business. The book teaches other food entrepreneurs how to start and run successful bakeries (and other food enterprises) from home, while avoiding some of the pitfalls she faced herself when she started.

According to Fix, some of the most important things to consider are local laws concerning food safety and packaging, and what the rules are about home-based food businesses in your area. Research, ask questions, educate yourself through reading and classes, and practice making products until they’re good enough to sell.

Also, learning a bit about running a business never hurts, such as learning how to properly inventory supplies, how to calculate ingredient and recipe costs so that products can be priced appropriately, and how to market and sell wares.

Running a home-based food business is a dream come true for some, like Fix, who said in her book, “For many people, the idea of owning a food business is a fantasy that seems unattainable. But with a few simple steps and very little expense, anyone can start a home-based food business and make money.”

About For more on how to start your own home baking or other food business, see the comprehensive guide for food entrepreneurs: Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business by Mimi Fix. Find it in our store:

in print, or

as an ebook.

Visit Mimi Fix’s website“.

Manufacturing at Home

A fascinating opportunity in home-based business is quickly emerging: manufacturing small items in moderate quantities at home, using robotics. So far, this has been a phenomenon mostly restricted to geeky hobbyists (a device called the MakerBot leads  the market), but changes are happening that I believe will transform this into a viable home-based business opportunity.

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What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur?

Every day new businesses open up shop for the first time. The owners of these businesses are often driven by the dream of being their own boss.

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Should You Open a Personal History Business?

Are you looking to go into business for yourself but having difficulty choosing the type of business to open? Have you previously worked as a writer, editor, storyteller, or are you a history buff? Do you love talking with new people? Opening a personal history business may be perfect for you! In fact, even if you haven’t worked as a personal historian before, you may already have the transferable skills to run a successful business in this rapidly expanding industry. For example, excellent communication skills and being adaptable to new situations are qualities that will help you as a personal historian.

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BC: Partnerships & Proprietorships

The British Columbia Registry Services have made some changes to how proprietorships and partnerships are registered. Form 2 and Form 3 of the Partnership Regulation have had the words “residential or registered address” removed and the address for a proprietor or partner is now defined to be a residential address only if the partner or proprietor is an individual.

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Should You Open a Franchise Business?

Franchises are everywhere. Across Canada, franchises such as Tim Hortons and Subway exist in even the smallest hamlets. Many of these businesses do quite well for one simple reason: residents and tourists recognize the brands and choose them based on price and a consistent product; they know what to expect every time they visit a franchised business.

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