Relax, breath, and enjoy yourself. These were some of the first concepts I learned in Aikido. One of the many things that makes Aikido unique and gives it power is that it comes from a relaxed place in both body and mind. Breathe in as you blend and out as you execute extending your energy. Maintain a positive attitude. While difficult at first, Aikido is a learnable skill. How you train makes a statement about who you are and what you stand for. So does grant writing.
We have covered writing a book proposal, a business plan, and finding funds in past columns. Now it is time to learn how to connect (musubi) the needs of the community to your desire to be of service by sharing Aikido through the written word. What I am offering here is the basic outline of a grant proposal.
"Chance favors the prepared mind"
and "luck is the meeting place between opportunity and preparedness"
. This is where the training begins, continues, and returns.
Generic Grant Proposal Content Outline
Cover letter and opening statements:
First impressions and connections are extremely important. Everything you do either makes or breaks the connection. The first page is an introductory cover letter. It contains a greeting, and statement of compliment and knowledge of their organization, how you can benefit the community and them. It ends with a direct statement and request for their consideration and support (zanshin). Enter and blend. Let them know (briefly) who you are and how you both can become connected and one with the solution.
There is a reason to move in Aikido - because you are under attack. We are all being attacked by the ignorance and arrogance in society, leaving us all in conflict, confusion, and chaos. There needs to be a problem statement. It states the needs assessment (who, what, where, when, why, and how) as reflected in the RFP (request for proposal) and definition of funding source. The problem is defined and explained with current research and statistics. Create the need to be met with some sense of urgency. The attack must be real.
Many people are caught up in looking at the attack or problem and do not move or "get off the line"
. Generically a solution statement is as general as, "blend and take balance"
. Provide a general solution statement and program description of how you intend to enter and intervene, and what the benefits are to the clients serviced, the local community, and the funding source. This is the big picture of strategy and conceptualization.
Goals and objectives statement:
Now that you have stated generally what you intend to do to solve the problem, you need to get very specific in the narrative of goals and objectives. Provide current research to support the offered solutions. The goals must present a describable plan that is realistic and responsible. It provides projected numbers of clients served and the impact you want to achieve. The objectives are the specific behavioral steps necessary to reach the goals. Objectives include who, what, where, when, how, how many, and how much money in table or list format. Objectives include how accountability will be established, maintained, monitored, and evaluated. Show in simple steps what you will do. This is the little picture of the tactics and techniques.
Credibility and capability statement:
Tell the funding source why they should choose you. This is no time for humility or modesty. Be honest, not arrogant, about your agency's credibility and capabilities. Show a history of being able to do the job. Provide an organization chart. Attitude is the other internal strength.
Safety and accountability statement: Training has its risks. So does the investment of a funding source in you, your idea, and your program. Show how you intend to provide a safe environment. Show evaluation and accountability procedures and instruments. Provide specific tasks and numbers along with reporting and documentation. Show safe guards.
I once heard that Aikido was about posture and position. "If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything."
(heard that somewhere by someone.) Make a positioning statement by identifying who is your competition within the market niche, compare and define the differences without being negative or critical of others, state the uniqueness of your program to meet and resolve (enter, blend, and redirect) the problem better, sooner, more, safer, etc.
Nothing lasts forever. Everything is temporary. Include an action plan for self-sufficiency after grant funding runs out. Connections do not last forever. Most, if not everything, is temporary. Show that you are ready, willing, able, and prepared to continue the work they have so generously supported you in. Let go of the connection and move on.
If you did the business plan I suggested in an earlier column, you will remember the idea of money. It is not a dirty word or a crime to make a living by spreading the concepts and principles of Aikido. You will need to tell the funding source just what their money is buying. You must provide an inclusive comprehensive detailed budget. Everything from rent and utilities to postage and salaries must be given their own line item. How much are you asking for and what will it be spent on? A wise word of warning: the money must only be spent on approved expenses. This is one of those many places to remember that it is business not personal. Any slight violation can cost you the grant, any future funding, your non-profit status, your reputation, and possibly your freedom. Always be honest and honorable.
I was never one who shared well or played well with others. Always a bit of a Ronin. Nonetheless, There are people who seem to enjoy training with me. Let them be heard through letters of endorsement, agreement, cooperation, and testimonials. We never accomplish anything alone.
Personal and personnel statement:
Who are you? What is your personal and professional experience and expertise that will earn the trust and confidence of your potential funding source? Include all resumes.
Never ask for special consideration and always meet the deadlines. Give them more than they ask for, before they ask for it, and thank them for the privilege.
Okay, that should get you started, at least in your thinking, about grant writing as a learnable skill and a personal statement. It is not as fun as Aikido training, but it may provide a means to continue and spread the training. If I can be of any further assistance or consultation, please feel free to contact me.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan) Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 37 year. He currently trains and hold the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), and the (2006) Advanced Aikido Concepts and Aikido Buki-waza for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appears in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, and abuse living in Marietta, GA.