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Shelly Spencer
5756 N. Toulon Dr.
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815


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Nonprofit Grant Funding During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Shelly Spencer on 05/07/20

Many nonprofit organizations are wondering what the odds are right now to raise funding for their causes. More agencies are seeing a large increase in need within their communities, especially in hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, and other social services. Normal donation and fundraising channels are greatly reduced with more people out of work and struggling themselves and social distancing canceling events for the foreseeable future.


Is it worth it right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to continue (or start) fundraising with corporate and foundation grants?


What are the chances of getting that funding? Competition is strong even under the best circumstances, so is it worth spending the time and money to apply when your organization’s resources might already be limited?


No one knows from day to day, week to week, what will happen during this critical time. There is no precedence in our recent history that helps us understand what to expect when this is all over.


Already some of my nonprofit clients have seen letters from potential funders come in saying they were suspending grant funding cycles due to the pandemic. Others are redirecting their funding away from normally supported programs to address issues related to COVID-19 and the aftermath.


Yes, these are uncertain times. No one knows what will happen. But, rest assured, nonprofits are and will be at the forefront of this crisis. Nonprofit services and programs across all service sectors will be important to recovery. Which means, there is and will continue to be grant funding available. It’s still a very viable fundraising channel that can help nonprofits through the hardest of times.


Here are 7 tips to remember as you look for and apply for grant funding:


1. As you always should, carefully read the guidelines of each and every funder you research and plan on applying to. These guidelines and their funding focus can change quickly and you might find that one funder who originally funded programs you offer has refocused their efforts elsewhere.


2. Right now, many funders have shorter deadlines to better address the pandemic. Keep good track of potential funders and check back often for changing deadlines, funding priorities, and even increasing or decreasing funding amounts they have available.


3. Understand funding can be more limited during this time. Before spending your time and resources applying for grants, really look at the likelihood of being approved for funding from certain funders and the potential competition for those funds.


4. Consider repurposing or refocusing your agency’s programs during this time. Is there a way you can change parts of your program to better fit in with needed services that address or help during COVID-19? Are there new programs your agency can start that compliment your mission and address what is currently happening in the world? This might be the perfect time to start new programs you’ve been thinking about and haven’t gotten around to.


5. Look into new foundation and corporate funders you might not ordinarily be a fit with. During this time, funders are starting new funding programs to help with the pandemic. Others are refocusing their funding efforts and opening guidelines up to organizations and social issues they haven’t normally given to in the past.


6. Remember that most funding doesn’t happen overnight. Your services and programs may be more needed at this time and an influx of grant money may be desperately needed right now. However, funding, if approved, normally takes minimum weeks to months to receive.


7. Find new ways of diversifying your funding through local fundraisers, letters to donors, online auctions and fundraisers, etc. Doing this might help reduce your competition for the limited grant money out there and give you the funding you need faster. Also, apply for local grants and even consider grants you normally wouldn’t go for due to the amount of funding you might receive. Getting more local money of only a couple thousand is still better than trying for the $100,000 in funding from a national foundation that has less chance of approval during these times.


8 Ways to Successfully Work from Home with Kids

by Shelly Spencer on 04/25/20

Like many people across the US and the world who have been thrust into the work-from-home lifestyle, you might find yourself wondering just how to do it when you’re kids are home from school, too.

How can you possibly get the work done with all the interruptions and distractions, with your kids needing attention and no boss looking over your shoulder?

Have you found an effective way to handle it all? And, what if this is a more long-term, permanent situation?

I have successfully worked from home for the past 21 years while also raising two children (my youngest will be 18 later this year). It can most definitely be a challenging lifestyle, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything. The freedom and flexibility I’ve enjoyed have far outweighed any stress or chaos I have encountered over the years.

Over these last two decades, I’ve developed my own way of working and encourage you to try some of these simple tips I’ve used to successfully manage it all.


8 Ways to Successfully Work from Home with Kids


1. Create a schedule – yet be flexible! Mapping out your day in hours and tasks can really help you stay on track even if the kids are underfoot. It helps you stay organized and see everything you need to get done. But there will be times when you can’t follow the schedule due to interruptions and that’s where you need to be flexible and make adjustments. It’s easy to get upset by the interruptions but that won’t do you, your work, or your family any good. Remaining clear, realistic, and adaptable is key!

2. Consider working off schedule if you can. Meaning, work hours when there aren’t as many distractions. Get up earlier before anyone else is up. Work when everyone else has gone to bed. Work during kids’ nap time.

3. Take meaningful breaks – to clear your mind and spend time with your kids and family. This way they don’t feel as if you’re ignoring them and they will appreciate your time. Also, you won’t feel guilty when you do have to start your work again.

4. If there is another adult around, whether they are also working from home or simply furloughed from their job due to the current world state, enlist their help. Set a schedule and have them watch, help, entertain the kids. If they are also working, take turns with the kids while the other one attends to their job. It helps you (and them) be more productive knowing you can give your full attention to your work and knowing your kids are safe and engaged.

5. Pick a spot in your house with the least distractions. Sitting in the family room where the kids are playing, the room with the TV or gaming system in it, aren’t the best places to work from. If you can, set up your workspace where it is quiet and you don’t have other activities pulling at your attention. It can be too easy to get involved in other things or procrastinate if there are too many diversions around.

6. Give your kids tasks to do around the house, whether for fun or chore related. Get them involved with their schoolwork or learning activities. Make it age-appropriate so you don’t get as many interruptions. Make the tasks quantifiable so that when they achieve them, they can get rewarded in some way.

7. Depending on the type of work you do, involve your kids in your work. Give them easy or non-essential tasks. Kids like to feel important. They like to feel like they are contributing and having them help can be not only a great learning experience but also shows you value and trust them. Again, offer “rewards” for their help.

8. Don’t forget to schedule downtime. Often, when the work is there always staring you in the face, it can be hard to shut down and leave it for the day. There is always one more call to make, one more email to check and respond to, one more paragraph to write… It’s easy to have the work intrude on your personal and family time. When the workday ends at your scheduled time, put it aside, out of sight if possible, and commit to giving your kids, your family, even yourself your full attention.


It really is possible to work at home successfully. It just takes some extra planning, creativity, and patience. Just be careful; you might find that once the social distancing is over and your boss wants you to return in-house, you really don’t want to go back into the office and would rather stay working from home!