First Draft Due in class Wednesday, April 27th (Week 5)
Final Draft Due Wednesday, May 18th (Week 8)
The nonprofit sector is a very public-facing sphere. It serves public needs through its range of services. It relies on public funding through government grants as well as individual and foundation contributions. And nonprofits often contract with governments to provide services, programs, or supplement research or education. As such, it is vital that critique,
accountability, and questioning of the sector be made public as well. As students, we often lack outlets to make our voices heard to the wider public, wanting space to turn our learning into action. This exercise builds upon our learning together and offers students the opportunity to do non-academic writing for a public audience in the form of a blog post or op-ed. We will have the chance to peer review and, if students choose, they can try and publish their piece in a local news source or online. This assignment is designed to meet the
IAS learning objectives of critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and writing and communication. It can serve as a portfolio piece.
• develop tools and skills to write for non-academic audiences in the format of a blog
post or op-ed
• learn how to write succinctly and with a clear argument for multiple audiences.
• synthesize learning about one key concern, concept or question from the course into written form.
• build confidence in their written voice.
• practice providing constructive feedback to peers and incorporate feedback from others into one’s own draft.
• create a portfolio piece that demonstrates putting academic, interdisciplinary learning into action with a public audience.
• be ready to publish their op-ed or blog, if they choose to make it public
Pick a topic, related to the course, to write about. My best advice is to brainstorm or free write first to establish some ideas. Based on our work together so far, what stands out to you as most compelling? What have you gone home thinking about from the class? What surprised you so far from the class? Are you frustrated about anything we’ve learned about?
Are there contradictions that seem like other people ought to know about them?
Once you’ve picked your overarching topic, jot down all of the different ‘arguments’ or ‘big ideas’ you could discuss within this topic. (i.e. ‘nonprofits addressing homelessness’ as an
overarching topic, and some ‘big ideas’ might include: shelters vs. affordable housing;
conflict in tent cities; faith-based versus secular organizations and homelessness; barriers to home-ownership + nonprofits… etc etc etc).
Now narrow that down to one big idea.
Write out your first draft so that you highlight this one idea and only this one idea.
Spend time framing the overarching topic. Tell us why it matters, why this is an important concern. Then develop your ‘big idea’ and make a clear argument about it.
Allow your own voice to come through, but include/cite others. Successful blogs will
hyperlink a range of sources.
Step 3: Edit your draft to 750 words, at most. 600 ideally. Bring 3 copies of your essay with you to class on Wednesday, April 27th (Week 5). We will spend about half the class workshopping your writing and brainstorming places to submit it. We will also discuss what makes a blog post or op-ed particularly strong or effective.
Step 4: Revise your blog post/op-ed, incorporating the feedback from your peers. Choose a
destination where you would (hypothetically) submit this. Reminder: you do not have to submit, but it is important to choose an audience. Make sure that your writing fits the proposed audience.
When you submit your final document, please include a brief explanation of your ‘audience’
and why this is appropriate for your argument.
Make sure that all of your links work, and that you cite any sources accordingly. If possible,
make it even more succinct.
Submit your final copy electronically by class time on Wednesday, May 18th, Week 8. Include a snappy title, your name, and the audience / why that audience. Please bring the hard copy from your workshop session with you. Save a copy of this, and stash it in your IAS
portfolio with a little description of the assignment.
The first draft will be graded credit / no credit. Come to class prepared to peer review and workshop your piece with others, and you will get all 15 points.
The final op-ed or blog post will be graded based on the following criteria (out of 25 points)
- The piece is clearly meant for a public audience and is not just an academic think
piece (i.e. it doesn’t rely on academic jargon, and terms are clear to understand to
a layperson). There is a call to action or conclusion point for audiences to think
- There is a clear audience in mind, and the student was thoughtful in determining
where they would want to ‘publish’ (i.e. the student had in mind the audience
they would write for)
- The student incorporated feedback from their peers and took the revision
process seriously (i.e. there is evidence of significant improvement and change
from draft 1 to final)
- A student wrote concisely and kept their argument focused and succinct (i.e. blog
posts are best when short and clear! Are you able to still convey deep thought in
a short piece?)
- Student incorporates course concepts where possible
- There are sufficient links to outside sources or hyperlinks where possible. The
the piece feels like it could be published online (for a blog), or in newsprint (for an
- Excellent op-eds/blog posts will demonstrate a sense of fun and excitement about this, and approach the assignment with creativity. This is your chance to pose questions and get me thinking in new ways as well!
Grant Funding for Non-Profit Organizations
Audience: Small Non-Profit Startups Seeking Grant Funding
Social entrepreneurship has traditionally been modeled around the non-profit sector. A non-profit organization is focused on the goals of social improvement and well being with no concentration on profit-making. Non-profit organizations often serve a common community through its revenue, to achieve social goals. Implementing a double bottom-line business model, their social mission is more important and is prioritized over making profits (Stroh 36). However, both aspects are important to promote sustainability and continuity.
Non-profit organizations are mostly charity and community development organizations that pay personnel based on their structure. At other times, they rely on voluntary workers. Finance and accounting are the basis for the survival and efficiency of any organization. To thieve, the non-profit sector receives great support in terms of tax incentives and reliefs. After clearance from charity evaluators and supporting government institutions, these organizations are exempted from intensive tax obligations. This revenue is then used for the advancement of a specified social cause. Furthermore, the management is not entitled to any of the returns generated through the organizations’ activities (Drucker 28).
Essentially, non-profit funding is mainly sourced from donations, loans, contracts, gifts, and grants (Weinstein 48). Since their early inception, these organizations have mostly relied on external funding. There is a growing concern these funding strategies create situations where lenders influence the organizations to prioritize profits in order to service the loans. For this reason, loans and equity finance are rarely used is it is imperative for the entities to avoid problems of ownership, liability, and authenticity. Moreover, it enables the non-profit organizations to maintain systems of trading in goods and services that are mostly related to the charity or the social mission. Contracts are also fairly used as binding agreements between two parties who may include private and public sector participants.
Grants are the most common form of funding for the non-profit sector (Horton 15). This form of finance is usually exempted from tax and does not have to be repaid. Acquiring and planning grants is a long and calculated process. Even though they are considered to be free, the process of allocation contains many requirements and restrictions that range from community understanding, business plans, performance projections, specified target populations, and even specific business models. These grants are mostly advertised in workshops and professional seminars during networking events, with the main potential providers being public sector organizations and trust organizations.
The identification of a relevant grant is then followed by a long application process. Varying from one organization to the other, the application procedure requires financial and accounting records, business plan and social mission strategies (McElrath 127). What may seem like an easy form of funding actually turns out to be a highly detailed process even after the grant has been received? The granter may choose to follow up on the use of the money through clear accounting and financial reporting principles. The granter then consults widely to help the organization maximize the grant amount which is then re-invested into the community or members of the organization. Once allocated, the grant money should be properly budgeted for by the managerial committee with a short- and long-term performance projections. Subsequently, resources should then be laid out in stages of a steady progression of human performance. Finally, grant follow-ups are used as a guideline for future funding when determining future grant or loan eligibility and equity positions in the future. Once the grant has been efficiently allocated to the intended functions, a well-managed non-profit organization will record developments almost immediately.
Evidently, funding is essential for the growth and expansion of non-profit organizations that focus on social welfare. The interdependence between non-profit organizations’ social businesses outlines the need for social solutions facilitated by proper organization, management, and responsibility allocation. Luckily, there is a wide range of grants available in old, new and emerging categories, and they have greatly promoted the emergence of highly successful non-profit organizations.
Bryson, J. Strategic Planning for Public and Non-profit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and sustaining organizational achievement. Berkeley: Josey Bass, 2011. Print.
Drucker, P. Managing the Non-profit Organization. New York: Harper Business, 2006. Print.
Horton, Terry. The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful fundraising. Los Angeles: Deepak Chopra, 2013. Print.
McElrath, T. O. Winning Grantsstep by step: The complete workbook for planning, developing and writing successful proposals. California: Jossey-Bass, 2013. Print.
Ott, S. The Nature of the Non-profit sector. Boulder: Westview Press, 2001. Print.
Stroh, D. P. Systems thinking for social change: A practical guide to solving complex problems, avoiding unintended consequences and achieving lasting results. Burlington: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015. Print.
Weinstein, S. The Complete Guide to fundraising Management. Hoboken: Wiley, 2009. Print.
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