After three years of contemplation, we’ve finally decided to use Twitter. Sign up at Twitter and you can follow us using our handle, @SeligerGrants. Or, see the “What I’m Doing” column to the left and right of this post.
I’m starting to tweet because I think the world of nonprofits is at another major inflection point, similar to the situation that started three years ago in August 2008 with the bank near-meltdown, TARP and, eventually, the Stimulus Bill. As I’ve been blogging about since, the reality for nonprofits has changed markedly for the worse. As the economy tanked—whether or not the official “recession” ended or is about to re-start—the competition for grants and donations has intensified. Just last week, I blogged about how Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Keep Coming to the Nonprofit World. And what happened in the last seven days?:
- After months of wrangling, Congress and President Obama finally agreed on a federal debt limit increase, which will ultimately lead to fewer federal and state discretionary grant dollars up for grabs.
- S & P downgraded the United States’ sovereign debt, putting the country in the same borrowing class as Belgium, but behind Lichtenstein (I am not making this up).
- The stock market went into free fall.
And I thought the news was bad the previous week!
I don’t know what will go wrong this week, but I suspect there are many nonprofit executive directors who’ve just learned that pledged donations have been cancelled, and those executive directors are struggling to re-do their budgets to keep the doors open. I suspect that there will be little good economic news in the coming months to brighten the prospects for nonprofits. Hence, @SeligerGrants. I plan to tweet at least once per day, doing what I can to get information out as quickly as I can.
Here’s my second tweet:
#MilwaukeeYouthRiot examiner.com/progressive-in… – Nonprofits Go Get Grants – Windhover Fdn qg.com/aboutus/commun… or Marshall & Ilsley Fdn 414-765-7835
For those of you not in the Twitterverse, this may look like gibberish*, as Twitter allows only 140 characters and the URLs are shortened. Allow me to dissect this tweet.
The initial “#”” is a hash tag (#). Hash tags flag interesting or trending tweets. The URL that follows the hash tag is an active link (in a Twitter client), which leads to a story about a riot last week a the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee, in which dozens of African American youth fought a pitched battle with police. For those too young to remember, Milwaukee, like other big Midwestern cities, was the scene of a major urban rebellion in 1967. News of a similar event 44 years later immediately caught my grant writer’s eye. Back to the tweet. “Nonprofits Go Get Grants” is followed by contact info to two large foundations that fund at-risk youth services in Milwaukee, the Windhover Foundation and the Marshall & Ilsley Foundation.
You have it in 140 characters: breaking news affecting nonprofit youth service providers in Milwaukee and a small bit of free grant source research. Whenever there is an urban riot in the United States, foundation and government grant funds are sure to follow. Having written many funded proposals for nonprofits that serve the African American communities in Milwaukee and nearby Racine, I know local needs very well, and I’ll be contacting some of our former clients to see if they want to go after the grants I think will be available. But you can beat me to it through the wonders of Twitter.
If you have a credible nonprofit in Milwaukee, get busy thinking up a plausible concept to help the community overcome the challenge of young people forming a mob in the middle of what is supposed to be a carefree summer event for families and children. Here are a couple of ideas: mentoring, summer jobs, alternative recreation activities, and training a corps of Youth Ambassadors. It doesn’t really matter, as long as your organization springs forward to propose solutions to new or critical problems, as I blogged about last week. Hence the brief but pointed “Go Get Grants” and two foundation funders in my tweet.
I’ll be tweeting as often as I can, highlighting interesting news, project concept, announcing RFPs and blog posts, and throwing in the occasional Huntington Beach Surf Report. Set up a Twitter account and follow my tweets. Even a single idea you get from @SeligerGrants could be the difference that keeps your agency ahead of the competition. Nonprofit executives need all the information they can get. Take our tweets and run with them.
* Jake, who finds Twitter “stupid”—or was it “inane,” or was it “a humbug”—but knows a lot about grants, could not decipher this tweet. His younger sister, who is very involved with social media both for her job and personally, understood it immediately, although she knows little about grants. Jake said, “What can be said in 140 characters is either trivial or abridged; in the first case it would be better not to say it at all, and in the second case it would be better to give it the space it deserves.”