by Mandy Pearce

What in the world do gourds and grants have in common?

7852ac4d-51e4-442f-a90b-d9e6eab066cbMy mom is a pretty amazing artist. Ever since I was little, I saw her take the most ordinary things and turn them into extraordinary pieces of art.  I am not so talented in the art arena, but I do take pretty interesting ideas and turn them into grant proposals.

This picture on the right is of a group of gourds my mom is working with right now.

For the past few months, she has been working on a special project for the Best Friends National Conference in July. I am heading out there to present and exhibit and she is making a pretty nifty raffle item for me to bring along. She is making it out of gourds.

She pointed out to me that gourds are a lot like grants. I had obviously never thought of this before and wanted to share her insights with you. I find that there are an awful lot of situations that relate to grant writing, and this one just happens to be in the arts.

For gourds and grants, you start with seeds.Seeds of relationship building or actual seeds to plant.

Then you have to plant, water, and weed before they grow.  How true of grants as well!  If you skip the relationship building, you are skipping a vital step in the cultivation process of fundraising.

Gourds have to cure, or dry out, before they can be used. For grants sometimes you have to take time to let the relationships ” cure” before a foundation is ready to let you apply, before there is an appropriate cycle your need fits into or before YOU are ready to move forward.

Gourds have many uses, as do grants. Some gourds are eaten…for nourishment, some are used for vessels to carry food or water. Some are used for utensils, dippers for water. Some for shelter such as bird houses. Some are made into bowls and baskets for storage and then like the ones my mom is currently working with, some are used for the arts.

Gourds also come in many shapes and sizes like grants. You don’t pick the gourd and then start the project, rather, you have your list of needs for the art project, and you find the gourd that best fits your needs.  Are you making a bird house, or are you painting a cat?  Each project has specific needs such as needing to be cut, molded, sit up on its’ own, etc.

Once you have identified the appropriate grant/foundation then you can begin prepping for the writing. In the world of gourds you have to cure, sand, paint and possibly put multiple coats of paint on a gourd before it is ready for a project.  Here are some of the gourds my mom has been working with from the same group.

Doesn’t this sound like grant writing to you?

It should!

We should always start with our needs list before beginning grant research. This assures that we are looking for the prospects that fit our needs and not just a prospect that funds the type of work we do or the type of organization we are.

Stay tuned for some updated articles and pictures of these projects as my mom takes the next steps in the cultivation process.

Happy Writing! – Mandy