Recently I have attempted to share ideas on writing books and business plans. Many Aikido Dojos have incorporated as private non-profit agencies and are eligible to receive funds through grant writing. In a former life, I was a grant writer and taught other how to. I will present a generic grant writing process. Next time I offer my thoughts on the generic grant proposal outline. People fear this process. With a little knowledge, some courage to face our fears of rejection and success, and practice, you may find it is easier than Ukemi, Randori or Jiyu-waza.
Generic Grant Writing Process
Initially there are two ways to enter and blend with funding sources. Remember, they have money they want to give to issues, causes, problems, populations, and geography they want to give to. Moreover, hey, it is their money so I guess they have that right. The first approach is for you to design a program and then find a funding source that matches. The second is to do you reconnaissance, collect you intelligences, and design a program around what they already want to fund. On the other hand, what many of us do, to harmonize with the dualities, is to do both.
Honest self-assessment is at the core of beneficial self-development on and off the mat. Doing an honest and fearless self-inventory set the stage of recovery and growth. Begin by think of who you are and what you would like to do. Separate each program, service, or population by problem, age, etc. If you have done a good business plan, you will already know this information. This is Kihon, learning the basics.
Skills are gained through constant repeated realistic repetition. Do not train alone. Get together, enter and blend, accept the energy and thoughts of others. Brainstorm all the buzz words that describe the agency mission, population served, problems confronting, solutions sought, services provided, etc.
Enter and blend. Search the libraries or on-line directories, etc. for foundations, government, corporations, local organizations, groups, etc. that match their buzz words to yours. Enter a door that is already open.
Relax, stay centered, and invite some one in. Send a letter to requesting to be put on RFP (request for proposals) mailing list. Put them on yours. Keep aware and informed of each other.
Prepare, train. Write generic proposal utilizing the generic outline that follows. It is a draft only. Everyone's energy is a little different, but there are some basics that you can get used to and develop some sensitivity and flexibility.
Once invited, accept what is offered. Once you receive RFP, you will see that they want to give you their money for start up, on going, staff, equipment, or other specific reasons. They will define purpose. Your job is to select program that already matches with what you want to provide. Blend with what they want to give to. As mentioned earlier, you can do this step first and find out what people want o give to or for. Being proactive is useful. Invite their participation. I have designed several programs and written grants at the request of the funding source.
Break the skill down and understand the finer concepts, principles, and technical proficiencies. Review the RFP and underline buzzwords and phrases for problem, solutions, population, etc. Identify and be mindful or who what you are blending with.
Enter, blend, and redirect. Rewrite the generic grant you already have prepared, but using their words. Blend, blend, blend.
Timing is everything. Too late or too soon and the technique loses all effectiveness and efficiency. Always submit on deadline and ask for no special consideration.
Once you have establishes connection (Musubi), keep the connection throughout and extended beyond the technique (Zanshin). Provide follow-up, feedback, clarify, amend, and negotiate. If you keep connected, keep your hand open, and keep turning, eventually a technique will simply drop into you hand. Stay open, relaxed, and flexible, adapt, and improvise.
Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it does not. It is simply feedback about whether your techniques match their approach, whether you ideas matched theirs. It is not good or bad, right or wrong either way. If you are fortunate enough to receive the funding, always be respectful (Rei) and appreciative. Give a press release and celebrate. Now the work really begins. Get back to training. Do what you said you would do.
If the magic does not work, this time, stay in contact and connected (Musubi), be visible. There are always other opportunities. If it is not a match, you can always resubmit elsewhere. Everything and everyone is a match somewhere. The art is to find where, and who, we can enter and blend with naturally. Many things, and techniques, only work when you relax and let them happen. You cannot make everything, or everyone, the way you want things to be. As in Randori, move on.
I hope this has help stimulate some curiosity and interest in gaining some grant funding to offer what Aikido has to offer to world in conflict, chaos, and confusion. We will continue this theme, conversation, dialogue, and discussion on grant writing next time. The fun part about training, it never has to end. We can just enjoy the process together.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.
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.