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How To Connect With New & Young Money (Hint: Look At Your Phone)

Sarah Rose is 7 years old.

Her dad is a construction worker who fixes things in my house and then some.  By that I mean he will often notice a leaky faucet or a cracked floor tile, go back to his truck for whatever he needs to make things better.

I think this is where Sarah got the notion in her head to ask for 4 pairs of shoes for Christmas that year.

“Shoes?  OK, Sarah.  But why would you want 4 pairs of shoes,”  her dad asked.

“Oh, I don’t want the shoes for me, dad,”  Sarah answered.  “I want to give them to other people who need them.”

She got her 4 pairs of shoes that year.  And then she made sent some texts from her phone and asked her surprised teacher if her class could bring more shoes to school.  By the time the holidays were over, Sarah had collected hundreds of pairs of shoes to donate to a local charity and Sarah’s Shoes was born.  This campaign now receives shoe donations from almost every major sneaker manufacturer as well as her entire school.

Not bad for a third grader and QWERTY monster.

What is a QWERTY monster?

You see them everywhere.  Teenagers from 12 – 17 who constantly text on their mobile phones and according to recent studies, they are nipping at the heels of the Millennials as the next generation of nonprofit donors.

Millennials are an emerging demographic force to be reckoned with.  The Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University released a report describing how Millennial donors approach giving and suggests ways to build relationships with this extremely connected and global generation.

Currently Millennial donors give markedly less than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts. And they give less frequently.  But as they complete their education and begin to earn higher income, they are expected to give considerably more in the near future.

Ninety-three percent of Millennials regularly go online, with 50 percent of this population using mobile Internet.   Even though Millennials give in smaller amounts, the report also suggests that donation amounts are more keyed to where a person is in their phase of life – and that Millennials will be entering years of earning more money.

Are QWERTY monsters the nonprofit donors of the future?


In Dearborn, Michigan, the Teen Grantmaking Initiative (TGI), a group of 20 young philanthropists in Michigan sponsored by the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), awarded five $1,000 grants to area non-profit organizations serving youth in the metro Detroit community last July.

Over the past nine months, TGI members actively fundraised, learned about community needs, visited grantee organizations, participated in service projects, and reviewed grant proposals from prospective organizations.

TGI member Fatima Al-Hakim said she is proud of the work that the teens accomplished this year.

“Being a part of this program ignited my passion for philanthropy,” beamed Fatima Al-Hakim, a young TGI member. “The most important idea I took away from TGI is that you really have to start from your local community to make a lasting change throughout the world.”

One of the projects they funded is:

  • Arts and Scraps – $1,000 for art kits, marketing and promotion of projects, and staff time at an environmentally-friendly, curriculum based arts organization located in Detroit.


Brookline Teen Grantmakers

Young teens in Brookline Massachusetts have a tremendous opportunity to change their world as grantmakers and philanthropists by being part of the Brookline Teen Grantmakers (BTG), a program of the Brookline Community Foundation.  Teen grantmakers have awarded $34,000 to local nonprofits since 2011.  This past year, the grantmakers focused on awarding projects that created strong, vibrant communities through the arts.

Brookline Teen Grantmakers 2014 Grantees

Brookline Music School
Early Music Education Program

The goal of the Early Music Education Program is to provide high quality early music education to children from low-income families in Brookline; to engage children and their families in the shared experience of music and to create opportunities for youth to participate fully in the Brookline Music School (BMS) community. The grant supports the enrollment of six to eight children in classes during the 2014-2015 school year. BMS will partner with the Brookline Housing Authority, Brookline Early Education Program and the Parent Child Home Program to identify and recruit children and families who will most benefit from the program.

Council on Aging
Senior Theater Weekend

The Brookline Council on Aging (COA) works with Watertown’s New Repertory Theater to bring two theatrical performances per year to Brookline with the aim of reducing social isolation and increasing access to the arts for Brookline residents aged 60+. With this grant, the COA will offer tickets at a discount or free of charge to the town’s low-income seniors.

Devotion School Alliance
Devotion Scholars Program

The Devotion Scholars Program offers individual drum lessons to 25 students with behavioral and emotional challenges at Devotion School. This program gives students individual adult attention, an opportunity to excel in a non-academic school setting and through their June performance, the chance to be seen as contributing to the school community. The grant helps fund the salary and benefits of the drum instructor.

Gateway Arts/Vinfen
Up the Ladder

Gateway Arts, an internationally recognized arts-based vocational service of Vinfen, creates meaningful lives and careers in art for individuals with developmental, psychiatric and other disabilities. Gateway provides its participants with artistic instruction and social services that promote independent, pride filled lives through the production and sale of fine art and crafts, focusing on its artists’ abilities, not on their disabilities. The grant is helping to fund Gateway’s Up The Ladder program which works with 25 artists with disabilities by pairing them with accredited art professionals and by providing individualized facilitation in the studios, portfolio development and marketing outreach.

Ideas in Action
TedxBeacon Street Fall Conference

The grant will support the 2014 Ideas In Action program that includes TEDxBeaconStreet, TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet, TEDxBeaconStreet Adventures and an Adventure Catalyst Program the weekend of November 15-16, 2014. Emanating from the Lincoln School, with live telecasts to multiple venues, the speakers and participants will discuss innovative ideas, experience captivating adventures and use these experiences to learn, grow, change lives, create community impact and inspire societal change. Talks and adventures will be filmed, edited and posted to a website making them accessible worldwide.

Steps to Success
After Hours U/Teen Advantage Visual Thinking Skills Program

Steps to Success will support and strengthen the creative and critical thinking skills of its After Hours U/Teen Advantage (AH U/TA) program students, in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). AH U/TA staff will be trained by MFA educators to teach the Visual Thinking Skills curriculum, a nationally and internationally recognized curriculum, to lead structured, open-ended student discussions of a diverse selection of artistic images over the course of a year, twice per month. The program will cumulate in a student visit to the MFA to use Visual Thinking Skills to explore the MFA’s extensive collection. AH U/TA staff will also lead weekly studio art sessions at the AH U/TA school sites.

Something To Think About

This is a definite change is the funding landscape and a difficult one to wrap your head around.  Especially if you are several generations away from these new funders.

If you are a large organization you may be able to throw staff time and resources at this.  But smaller organizations and individual artists don’t.

I suggest you start by taking small steps and do a test so you can measure the impact and learn from the experience.

Try this:  Focus your attention on your website.  Make sure it is easily read on a mobile phone.  Take some time to understand how your target audience is using your website and what they are most likely to consume on their mobile phones.

Larger organizations may have the capacity and resources to make a bigger investment.   But many smaller organizations don’t.  That’s why it is a good idea to start with small, incremental steps and a low-risk proof of pilot where you can measure the impact and learn.

For example, focusing it on an event or taking an easy first step of making sure your web site is readable on a mobile phone.   After all, it is your URL – whether people view on a big desktop computer screen or a tiny mobile screen.  This can be as simple as changing to a free responsive theme especially if your blog is on a WordPress platform.

You can do this.

I did.  I actually changed the theme of my blog, yes, the one you are reading now, to a free responsive WordPress theme all by myself, thank you very much.


And so can you!



About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.







I Got The Grant! OK, Now What?

Some say it begins with the first six words:

“We are pleased to inform you…”


The blood rushes to your face, you leap out of your chair, you shout, you scream, you fistbump your cat and the world will never be the same.

And of course you should do all those things and savor the moment.  Getting a grant, especially if it is your first grant, is an amazing accomplishment


One of my students called me to tell me this the other day and since it was a few days since his last fistbump, coming back to earth has made him realize that he didn’t really know what to do next.

He had focused solely on getting the grant not thinking too much about what his next steps were once he got the grant.  Some artists tell me they purposely don’t do this so they won’t jinx the grant

Don’t do that.

The Sequence of Success

I think about this whole grant cycle as a loop.  I call it a Grantstacking Sequence.

It begins with you being very clear about aligning your mission with your targeted funder’s mission.

Example:   You are passionate about arts education in the public schools.  Your funder’s mission is to provide access to test prep for eighth grade students applying to specialized high schools.

You identify common goals.

Example:   You and your funder share a common goal: To get more eighth grade students into the specialized performing arts high school of their choice.

You develop a unique offer.

Example:  Your project is a training program for eighth graders that is co created with dance, music & art teachers from the specialized high schools that leads to a portfolio review day prior to the school audition dates.

How did you get to this point?

You didn’t.

You and your funder did this together

You both entered into the Grant Conversation.

You shifted from being an applicant to being a partner with your funder.  By engaging your funder in a conversation prior to submitting your proposal, you learn what is truly important to the funder and you understand more clearly the nuances of their priorities.

The example above is based upon a situation that happened to me recently.  The funder supported afterschool portfolio development for visual art students and the grant I submitted was for a program that was exactly that.

Well, not exactly.

My program was for high school students aspiring to enter college.  This funder’s specific priority was for eighth grade students preparing for the specialized high school entrance exams.

Same program content.

Different student grade.

I learned this by immediately putting myself in the Grant Conversation phase with my funder after my application was turned down and this is how the program evolved.

The Grant Conversation

This must happen whether you get the grant or not.

As in my case, I did not get the grant so of course, I called for panel comments and this is what I learned.  I can take this valuable information and create a project that better aligns our missions and therefore has a better chance of being funded the next cycle.

For my student who did get a grant, the Grant Conversation begins with an immediate thank you.

I always call my funders for comments when I get a grant.  You can always be better and by asking for feedback you demonstrate true interest in constantly improving.  People like that and it never fails to amaze me that very few people take the opportunity to do this.

You do your project.

You keep your funder informed by sending updates, press releases, or blog posts in addition to any interim or final report they require.

Invite them to the culminating event.

Inquire about a grant renewal.

If there are other ways you can be more than a grantee, find out what they are.


Some corporate funders have blogs on their site and are always looking for good content from their grantees.  You can submit a post about your project.

If a funder holds a gathering of grantees, make sure you attend and offer to be helpful, participate on a panel or offer to pitch in the day of the event.

Acknowledge your funders on your printed materials, on your website, on all of your program communications and social media platforms.  Give them SEO love.

Remember, the best approach to getting a grant is to take the long view.

Your grant award is part of the relationship you are now building with your funder.  Make sure you follow the steps above during the life of your grant to ensure there will be more to come your way.




About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.





How To Struggle Gracefully

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Well, I thought I was a mess.

Kurt Vonnegut’s image comforts me:  I am in good company!

And so are you.  All of you who have told me so and all of you who grit your teeth privately.

Should you apply again for the same project you just got shot down for?  Should you do it for free and hope this will help move your career forward?  Why does Detroit look like a really good idea?

Don’t be fooled by what people tell you.

Art is a hustle.  And in addition to talent, you need game.  Or at the very least, a game plan.

And no, the answer is not – “oh, well, back to the Batcave”.

Struggle wins when you retreat.

But oh how quickly it fades when faced with unexpected focused action.

Like calling yourself a writer with a new book you haven’t written yet.

What you will have done is simply replace struggle with a deadline.  And if you do this right, you will be thrust into a public light with an expectant audience and absolutely no safety net.

Now doesn’t that sound better?

Struggle is just your inner artist begging for a proverbial kick in the butt.

What?  You think not?

How wrong you are.

Here’s the interesting thing:  most people can’t help but root for the underdog.  People sympathize with those of us who are being challenged and struggle to overcome whatever is in our way.

Struggle is an underutilized audience builder.

Who gets the biggest roar from the crowds?  The American giant slalom skier who has been beaten by his dashing European rival for the last three World Titles as he pours everything he has left into the final stretch of the race known as the Abyss.

People use you as a canvas to project their own challenges.  They see a part of themselves in your every action.

Perhaps the most inventive way to deal with struggle is this:

Struggle gives you a great back story.

I prefer the honesty of struggling on a regular basis under the glaring scrutiny of the public.

It makes for more interesting reading for most people and brings me closer in spirit to Flaubert who wrote:

“Language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat outtunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.”


P.S.  Several readers have delighted in telling me I am out of my mind, that struggle just plain stinks.  Now I know I am not crazy but I am concerned that some of you may still be caught in the steely fist of despair.

Do you have a particularly difficult struggle facing you?

Tell me in the comments or send me an email and I will help you.




About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.





The Most Common Grantwriting Mistake Grant Reviewers Wish You Wouldn’t Make

When the moment demands, sometimes it shrieks.

I think that’s what happens when you have several languages rumbling around your head like I do.  What may be a perfectly lovely saying, or bit of wisdom in one language is a fishwife yelling out of a window in another.

My moment, my inner Sunday morning coffee & bagel with a schmear moment, started hocking me in no uncertain terms both in English and Cantonese as I wandered down the frozen dumpling aisle in the Hong Kong Supermarket.  Tired.  Caffeine deprived.

Hmmm… I bet I could grab a coffee at that bakery on the corner.  

The line was long in the bakery was long,  the menu was in Chinese, winter weary customers clutched their steaming paper cups and munched on dan tas (egg custard cakes) around small cafe tables.

“Nay you muh yeah?” The woman in the bright checkered uniform grinned cheerfully.  She sized me up with a quick practiced gaze and barked loudly, “Ka fei?”

Should I push my luck and ask for a latte?  It was on the menu under the list of bubble teas.  I pointed and said, “Latte.”

With my latte steaming in a paper cup, I looked at the pastries on the shelf in vain for something that could possibly translate into a bagel with cream cheese.

Who am I kidding?

No such luck.  And the latte?  Nowhere near what a latte should taste like.

As I turned the corner, I discreetly dropped the cup into a garbage can and disappeared into the crowded Flushing street.

My takeaway:

Lactose intolerant people cannot make lattes


They can, however, make an amazing assortment of bubble teas, dumplings, noodle cakes (calm down, I don’t mean kugel) and other unique and tasty things that make people ride 17 stops on the No. 7 train to Main Street, Flushing to enjoy.

You know exactly what you are getting when you get here.

The experience of eating in a dim sum parlor knocked about by loud servers jostling their carts between the crowded round tables is enough to earn you bragging rights among your foodie friends.

So why do they attempt making lattes?  And other forms of coffee served with milk that are simply undrinkable?

Nobody goes to Flushing, Queens for cappuccinos.

Do what you do and only what you do

A young promising musician told me he received grant panel comments about his project that puzzled him.

“My music is for everyone.  And that’s what I put down in my grant proposal.  I want to grow my audience base so I am targeting the general public,”  he said. “There’s something for everyone in the music that I perform.”

Now that is one lactose intolerant latte.

No, you do not appeal to everyone.

No, you cannot target the general public.  They are too big and too busy to listen to you.

No, you should not care about everyone.

Make your music uniquely and narrowly appealing to one person, your target listening fan that you know like a book.

Ignore everyone else.  Unapologetically.

Here’s what will happen

People who you are creating for will come to you because they will feel that you know them and you are speaking directly to them.  That is extremely attractive.  Ask them to bring a friend.  If your experience is unique and memorable, they will.  Everyone likes to be on the inside track of cool things.

People who are not interested in what you do will not bother with you.  Thank God.  Now you can chuck this whole ridiculous art-by-committee thing and focus on creating something true to your own vision, your audience, your goals.

People like me, who sit on grant panels reviewing stacks of proposals considerately designed with noble intentions to democratically inflict art upon everybody, will stand up holding your proposal and say, “This one is a winner.”

Here’s why

We long to see a proposal with a specific and singular vision.  Something only you can provide.

With a confidence in your ability to make the world better for a certain group of people, an audience that you know well, value and if you are smart, this is an audience that happens to be important to your funder.

We are OK with constraints, with limits and with a narrower depth of field.  We are more impressed with your focused impact going deep, not wide.

We know you cannot change our big world with one grant.  We want to know that you know this.

That you know how to create a space you will be successful in making a distinct and measurable difference.  And that you can say no.

Knowing your unique specific abilities is an art we appreciate.

Just like knowing that Flushing is the place where people make a fabulous bubble tea, not a latte.



About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.




grantwriting positioning

How To Position Yourself Into A Grantwriting Success

What can a million dollars get you?

In Edmond, Oklahoma, $1 million gets you a 5,000-square-foot home with a pool on more than 1.5 acres.

In North Druid Hills, Georgia, $1 million buys a 7,000-square-foot home close to Emory University with 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and a fountain in front.

In Reno, Nevada, $1 million buys a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom home with multiple patios and courtyards, a large game room, and a pool.

In Brooklyn, New York, $1.1 million can buy an 842-square-foot studio with a home office close to Brooklyn Bridge Park.


Now why on earth do you think anyone would buy an 842 square foot studio for $1 million dollars instead of a home 5, 6 times the square footage with land, a pool and even a fountain in the front of the house for the same money?

Hint:  It has absolutely nothing to do with reason.  And everything to do with emotion.

Location, location, location

You have heard this many times.  This one factor has the power to double, triple and exponentially kick real estate prices through the goal posts of insanity.  Especially in places where everybody wants to be.

A similar phenomenon happens in grantwriting but with one big difference:

Real estate prices are affected by location.

Successful grant proposals are influenced by position.

“We are a perfect fit for this foundation, we give them everything they want – the connection to curriculum, the artmaking, the youth population, the glowing testimonials…”  the executive director threw her hands up in the air in a helpless Hail Mary.

Her young development person nodded his head in solemn agreement.  “And every year they turn us down – and they keep saying they really like us.  They keep telling us the pool is really competitive and to just keep trying.”

“Except this year,”  I looked up at him in surprise.  He cleared his throat and quickly continued, “They gave us our first grant.  Small to them but huge for us.”

“It just seems so random to me,”  the executive director sighed. “One year the panel comments say one thing, the next year they say something else.”

“Well, what did you do differently this time?”  I know it is frustrating to hear feedback that makes you feel like there will always be something wrong year after year.  But that is the truest indicator that you have not quite nailed your unique offer, the one thing that immediately sets you apart from everyone else.  So far it sounded like their past proposals did a great job and meeting the criteria – just like everyone else – but that was not enough to push them into the Yes pile.  There had to be something they did to move ahead of the rest.

“I can’t think of anything we did this time that we didn’t do before,”  she said.

The development person cleared his throat softly and murmured,  “Except that list.”

“You know they always want to know who your audience is so I always send them a list of everyone we work with.  Only this time the list contained just the names of people who get support from this foundation.  And how much our help meant to them in doing their work better.”  he met my gaze evenly and continued.  “I remember you said it is crucial to align our missions, passions and audiences with our funders.”


What happened was exactly what should happen when everything is in perfect alignment.


Position, position, position

This funder realized that supporting this project would enable this organization to better serve the exact audience that was important to them.  They considered them a partner in doing this work and thereby even more deserving of a grant.

This subtle positioning is one of the most powerful things you can do to stand out from the rest of the contenders.

Position yourself as more than a grant applicant.  Present yourself to your funder as an invaluable partner who can bring added and unexpected value.  How? By providing creative solutions focusing on the specific audiences that are important to both of you.

Unlike real estate, this strategy has everything to do with reason and emotion.



About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.