The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 45 with Shawn Zierke | Talking About Grant Opportunities for Pregnancy Clinics

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 45 with Shawn Zierke | Talking About Grant Opportunities for Pregnancy Clinics
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Listen Shawn Zierke and Jacob Barr talk about about grants available to pregnancy clinics.

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and in this episode of the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had an engaging conversation with Shawn Zierke about the intricacies of grant writing for pro-life organizations, especially pregnancy resource centers. Shawn, with her extensive background in nonprofit management and her work across various states, brought a wealth of knowledge to the table.

We delved into different types of grants that pregnancy centers can access, including federal, state, local, and foundation grants. Shawn emphasized the importance of understanding the specific requirements of each grant and tailoring applications to meet these criteria. She also highlighted how grants could support various aspects of a center’s operation, from medical training to community outreach programs.

One of the key takeaways from our discussion was the underutilization of grant opportunities by pregnancy centers. Shawn estimated that a very small percentage of centers actively pursue grants, suggesting a significant untapped potential for funding. She encouraged centers to be proactive in seeking out grants and not to be deterred by the perceived complexities of the application process.

Throughout our conversation, Shawn shared practical tips for successful grant applications, such as being clear and concise in proposals, having organized documentation, and aligning the center’s programs with the grantor’s objectives. We also discussed the importance of data collection in supporting grant applications and the potential of using grants to elevate the professional training of center staff.

To sum up, our podcast shed light on the vital role of grants in supporting pro-life organizations and provided valuable insights and strategies for successfully navigating the grant application process.

#Hashtags: #GrantWriting, #ProLifeFunding, #PregnancyResourceCenters, #NonprofitManagement, #CommunityOutreach, #MedicalTraining, #DataCollection, #ProfessionalDevelopment, #FundingOpportunities, #ShawnZierkeExpertise

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Jacob Barr :

Welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast i’m here with Shawn and we’re going to be talking about grant writing, small projects, large projects, what you should be collecting and how you can help fund your organization to reach your community better. So Sean, I am really excited to have you had to have you on this podcast and to learn about grants and how pricey clinics can be supported through these grant like offers that are available, would you introduce yourself as if you were talking to a group of executive directors of pricey clinics and maybe pro-life leaders of other organizations?

Shawn Zierke :

Sure. My name is Shawn Zierke. I am the principal owner and consultant with Zierke Consulting Group, LLC. I am incorporated in Iowa and in Florida. I do work all over the US and have incorporated nonprofits in six states in the US, including California, Missouri, Florida, Iowa, South Carolina. I know I’m missing one. I apologize. I My business is focused on nonprofits, primarily pregnancy centers that’s where I got my start. I founded a pregnancy center group in Iowa back in 2007 prior to that, I was hired by a pregnancy counseling center to convert it to a pregnancy health medical clinic and I was invited as a as a result of that conversion in this vision for showing their babies by old, showing women their babies by ultrasound and having ultrasounds in all of the pregnancy centers and having staff trained to provide STD testing, which is an entry point when women are at risk and or facing an unplanned pregnancy. And I was invited to speak at the state convention for Knights of Columbus in 2008 in Iowa so it’s just me in a room of 300 men and casting this vision that I had for having ultrasounds in all of these clinics. And they caught the vision. They sponsored our additional ultrasound machines and for informed choice of Iowa. And then a year later, the Knights of Iowa went to the National Knights and that’s where the national initiative for the Knights of Columbus was born out of the state of Iowa. And casting that vision, so this is always been a passion of mine i I’ve been married 30 years and I have five children and we just, I even have a grandchild. I but we just adopted a baby who had a heart transplant. And in fact, they wouldn’t give him a heart without an adoptive family and one of the other hats I wear is in the medical arena and health arena. And so I created a registered nurse apprenticeship for nurses in pregnancy centers in ambulatory Women’s Health, and it is backed by the Department of Labor. And while I was rolling that out in the state of Florida, my second state to have that grant, Catholic Charities had a medical clinic that they wanted to upskill their nurses in. And they started to tell me the story of Samuel, and that’s how we were connected with our sixth child. And so between being in pregnancy centers and then I went back to school and got a master’s in public health policy and an MBA in social entrepreneurship, I started advocating for the other end of life and for individuals with disabilities. And then I came back into the pregnancy center world in 2018 again and helping with triple HC accreditation. And for clinics that wanted to optimize, so not only offer free sliding scale but also offer presumptive Medicaid eligibility so that early prenatal care and bill for it. And clinics that wanted to credential their providers and their nurses in order to bill regular insurance, especially if they’re in college towns. And students are required to have insurance so they’re coming in, they’re insured. And so it adds to the legitimacy of your clinic it doesn’t limit the services that you can offer, but it is definitely not leaving money on the table for clinics by billing for their services when they’re when the patient has insurance. And so my background is varied i’ve been an executive director multiple times. I was the executive director for Iowa County’s Public Health Association, and so I represented the 99 public health administrators across the state of Iowa for three years. So I have done a variety of things and in doing the public health work, I probably wrote the largest number of grants for federal and other foundation grants like Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and then turn that skill and experience into working at four pregnancy centers from 2018 on. And so that’s what I’ve been doing lately is a combination of federal, state, local and foundation grants for pregnancy centers.

Jacob Barr :

Wow your experience is vast and impressive and just a number of areas that you’ve covered in the precis clinic world is like it goes from admin to the medical and then yeah the fundraising with grant work this is so I’m really excited to hear ask you a few questions about the grant world. So that with the with the goal of a pricey clinic Either being inspired to ask you more questions or for advice or consultation. Or to hire your new company to essentially help them obtain grants or to inspire them to navigate the rules and the yeah in order to inspire them to work on getting grants as well.

Shawn Zierke :

Thank you. I Circuit Consulting Group has been around since 2016 Just to clarify, I’ve worked for profit and nonprofit in that time frame, so.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, awesome. So what sort of grants, what type of grants have a have pricey clinics received from your understanding like what’s the range or how would you describe the types of grants that have been obtained by clinics?

Shawn Zierke :

So obviously I alluded to the CARES Act funding, that’s a federal grant, but it’s passed through at the state level. So that’s sort of nuanced to know that there. If you’re familiar with writing federal grants, then you understand the pressure on the state when they’re doing pass through funding and the certain types of information that they need to fulfill their obligation to give out the money at the state level. So CARES Act was one foundation grants, for example. I wrote 14 foundation grants just for femme training for medical clinics, and femme is fertility education and medical management for clinic so natural family planning from adolescence to senescence, to have their nurses trained as fem educators to teach their patients all about their bodies and to take control of their bodies before they’re in crisis. I have written grants for specific projects supporting training or initiatives for outreach or marketing to certain target populations in a pregnancy centers community, workforce and career source support for training nurses in their clinics. So that’s of course state education and workforce initiatives. Even as in the nursing apprenticeship, that money is flowing down from the Department of Labor really pushing apprenticeships as an alternative to college or to augment hiring and keeping people trained at the top of their licensure. States like Texas and Florida have, like the Florida Pregnancy Center Network and they have grant services for, well, woman STD, ultrasound, pregnancy test options, counseling. And so I’ve helped clinics manage the reporting for that, especially when they have other funding streams and are confused about how to bill for their time for each patient it gets very nuanced, Simple ones like the local Walmart, and they offer up to five ten thousand dollar grants often so clinics can go in and get supplies for pregnant women or babies to fill their material support reservoirs so diapers and formula and wipes and baby clothing and car seats, county and state funds, so that are very specific so if they are wanting to reach homeless populations, maybe they’re wanting to fund their new mobile unit and they want to target homeless populations and drive their mobile unit into areas with high saturation of homeless or drug addicted women is what they want to focus on and they’ve partnered with a psychiatrist or a licensed counselor, and they want to be able to fund that program. And they’ve looked at the need in their area so they’ve got their public health data, and now they’ve got their program to apply to it they’re making projections about how many people they can reach if they staff at a certain way but they need the funds. Maybe they’re looking at specifically pregnant teens and they want to fund a maternity home or other services for pregnant teens specifically, maybe in high school settings. Then there’s service specific sources so there’s a clinic down in Inverness that has a food pantry. There are other clinics that help promote community gardens and then out of that give food to families and pregnant Mamas. Then you’ve got Health and Human Services for public health related initiatives like STD testing and treatment so you can partner with your public health department. I There’s always funds for HIV testing in particular. But if your community maybe is having a rise in syphilis or other issues, there could be funds specifically for your clinic to partner with them to target those problem areas. And then of course there are federal grants for maternity homes that target homeless teens or women underage 26 or drug addicted Mamas or pregnant women, homeless shelters for women with children and they need assistance, or trans medical management or case management. Then there’s food pantries or sex trafficking initiatives. There are so many federal funds for those areas, it just gets a little tricky when you want to apply for federal grants because the documentation, your organizational readiness for a grant, Simple things well, I shouldn’t say simple. It is somewhat simple. But making sure you have a Sam number and a DUNS, those are very important so.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, yeah, so talking Speaking of Sam’s and done numbers, what does someone need to prepare to apply for a grant like what would be sort of the, you know what steps might they should they consider to prepare?

Shawn Zierke :

Sure so successful nonprofits commit to creating a grants program, so they research grants all the time. It’s learning as much as possible about grant writing and making applications for grants frequently. And so if they’re doing it regularly and often, they’re going to get better at it with every turn they’re going to be able to be very concise and exact with their story. They’re going to know the programs they want to fund. They’re going to know what their measurable outcomes will be and how they impact their community. And so you will have ups and downs you’re not going to get every grant, but you have to start doing it. So you have to plan out that process so you source your grant opportunities i can talk about an entire list of all the places you can source grants, so we can go back to that, but it can be somewhat laborious. But there are many funding databases. Databases that you do have to pay for them, but they really do fit any budget. And when you search these databases by keywords that match what you’re focused on funding, what your services or programs are, what you’re really good at, what’s the personality of your pregnancy center within your community, What’s your niche? And so a lot of the grant funding databases though, focus on family and corporate foundations, they don’t really include government or corporate opportunities. And so I’m going to talk a minute in a minute about how you find those. But you really want to be organized and have a grant planning calendar. You want to have your funding deadlines look at the past when did they fund it last year and the year before was it always in November? When did they open the announcement? Did they did everybody have 10 days, 2 weeks a month or is it a three day? You know, because so many people apply the larger the grant, the longer their review process so you’re going to work yourself to get this grant written and then you’re going to wait. So looking at in the past, when they how long it took them from a grant deadline to the award date and when they announced it, you have to set goals about out of how much you ask for in your proposal and you hope will get funded. What do you, what’s your target criteria for accomplishing that? And what if they don’t fund it all? Do you have a backup plan? Sometimes grant funders will come back to you and say, well, we really like your proposal, but we like this other one too, which only leaves us with this much money. And so if we only give you this much, how are you going to accomplish this? So always in the back of your mind, having a backup plan to be able to respond quickly, because if they’re already looking at you, that’s good, but you need to be able to. They’re asking other people the same thing. They’re choosing between you and several others to fund less than you’re asking for if you can accomplish your outcomes, so also grantors set certain criteria to sort of like a Grady rubric back when you were in school, and it helps them score you and make a decision on who to reward the money to. And if you can look at former scoring rubrics. Sometimes they’re out there, but it’ll help you determine if you’re going to fit with that funder and be somebody that they want to fund you can I use spreadsheets it’s a really easy freeway of listing all of the certain funders criteria in one column and the programs you’re looking to fund in another and see if you have matches. Also pick up the phone column. If you call your funder and say, hey, this is what we do, that’s where having your organization’s three minute commercial down or what you’re trying to fund, very concisely stated and letting them know that you were interested in it, but you want to know if you’re going to be a match with what they’re looking for they’re not making you any promises, but if they publicize a phone number, use it. Always call it. They know they’re going to get phone calls if they put the phone number out there. But unfortunately, as objective as you would hope they would be in making their decision. They’re people doing this, and if they know, trust and like you, and you’re new and you’ve never applied, that’s much better than if they don’t know you and you’ve never applied. Because people who’ve received grants from organizations reapply every year to continue funding. So it can be a challenge to get into that stream of income if you’re new and you don’t know anybody. So pick up the phone and call. The big things about readiness is really having a strategy for what you’re trying to get funded you do you want to know what you offer. So if you had to talk up your organization in solving the problem that this grant is looking to solve, what do you what does your organization offer in terms of experience and expertise? Can your organization tackle the issue at hand that they want solved who? Are who will be on the team that’s delivering that solution and what are their qualifications what is their track record? And right now, even for pregnancy centers, you really have to look at answering diversity, equity, inclusion questions they’re always asking those now just from a compliance standpoint, And so are you targeting, Does who you’re targeting a community match the racial and ethnic profile of your community, of the people in need, which is a very simple way of looking at it? And then, of course, how much is it gonna cost to fund your solution to their problem? And then how are you gonna quantify lives changed? How are you gonna measure it? It’s not enough to have a good idea. You have to be very specific. It’s like setting those SMART goals and strategic planning. So of course, at a very practical level, you want to make sure you absolutely have a handle on your organization’s history, mission, vision, and values. You need your IRS five O one C three a tax exempt letter, articles of incorporation bylaws, list of all the board members, terms and positions, their contact information you need your current budget and probably your prior budgets program budget specific, So not your not your P and L and your balance sheet sheet, but just the budget related to the program that you’re wanting funded to solve their problem. And if you have any, it’s HR specific information so the that people on the team that I referred to, how are they qualified, what are their credentials and so on. And then everything that is project specific are often organizations are funded because they’re partnering with other organizations in the community and they already have the history of good project outcomes. So and then of course the Sam registration is a must for federal grants you. So there’s many more steps i’m gonna keep going, OK? Unless you want to promise and ask me some questions about that.

Jacob Barr :

Sure yeah. So when applying for a grant, all this prep work and the application, is it always in writing, like filling out forms or submitting letters, or is it ever done through meetings but or is it primarily just through writing and submitting the information via mail or online form or something like that?

Shawn Zierke :

So foundation grants. I have rarely seen them do a zoom or a webinar introducing their grant, but state and federal they will especially state, even county grants will have webinars introducing the grant. What their focus is, who they really want to fund, not as in who specifically, but who is in descriptively an organization that does this, that will accomplish this, that has experience and this and watch those webinars. Then there’s also technical webinars on how to complete the grant documentation and the grant application, especially in the state of Florida, they’re really good about that Technical assistance. Use the technical assistance call when you have questions, because they’re going to get to know you and they’re going to know your heart of wanting to do a really good job and give them great information.

Jacob Barr :

What about so when you say it’s important to know when the grant it was funded last year or in previous years, so let’s say you find out that the grant was previously funded on a certain day, how might that impact, you know, when you would apply or how you might apply?

Shawn Zierke :

So it’s mainly looking at their history, is trying to keep your eyes open for when the announcement comes out each year. Is it always the same time Once the announcement comes out, it’s very clear when the deadline is and when they’ll announce who’s funded. But barring COVID, which really disrupted patterns, organizations are now getting back into their regular rhythm of when they fund certain things, especially foundations and corporations. But county and state and federal, They tend to run on a fiscal year or not too many months after a fiscal year starts, and the internal organization is determining how they want to distribute funds. Sometimes grants come open because federal legislation or state legislation is passed, and then funds come open because the agency within that state or federal department now has decided how they want to pass those funds through. So sometimes, So Jeanine Maxon is a great example of someone out of Susan B Anthony pro-life America or Charlotte Lozier and her plan she keeps her fingers on federal grants in particular for those organizations that are a part of her plan, which if you provide services to pregnant women, you should be in the her plan directory. And then she will keep you apprised of when federal grants come out for pregnancy centers as well.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, when a when a federal grant comes out for pregnancy clinics, how many clinics might apply or be awarded funds from a large federal grant?

Shawn Zierke :

Pregnancy centers are less than 1/4 of 1 % of applying for federal or state money right now, so it is wide open for you. If you can get creative about how you’re going to solve their problem in that specific area, then through your clinic and your services in your community, it could be wide open for you when.

Jacob Barr :

You say less than a fraction of a percent. You’re essentially saying that most federal funds go untapped or they’re going to other.

Shawn Zierke :

Groups other groups because pregnancy centers are scared of federal funding.

Jacob Barr :

Ok because of the control factor. Can you speak to that there?

Shawn Zierke :

Is no control factor.

Jacob Barr :

Ok.

Shawn Zierke :

The grants are very specific and how you can use the funds. So if your program lines up with and the problem they’re trying to solve through these funds, whether it’s the federal state level and you believe they line out all the documentation requirements. And so if they award you the funds, then you are following what you applied and said that you would do and how you would track them and how you would deliver those services. So there is no infringement on your mission. Besides, if your mission is evangelical in nature, then Title 7 protects you. So if you part of your mission of your organization and your bylaws includes sharing the gospel, then you continue to do that. But if they specifically say like Florida Pregnancy Center Network, those grant funds for those services, you can’t share the gospel while you’re providing those grant services. There’s more control there but they’re not saying that your organization can’t do it just can’t be in the time that you’re billing them for.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, you mentioned that there’s some different places to find defined grants, or you know, to find the source lists of these grants. Did you wanna go over that area or maybe more about the setup and preparation?

Shawn Zierke :

Absolutely shift gears because the second part of how to get into the grant process, it it’s detailed. That’s why you hire people like me to help you haven’t done it, but I like to teach people to fish so that they can continue to feed themselves in the future. So once you unless you have a new program that you don’t know how to craft your message for or match it to a grant, but what then I would come back in and help you. But if you have a program or specific niche in your community that your clinic fills and you want to get that funded and it’s a new funding stream, then you might want to hire a grant writer like me. But the Grantsmanship Center is one in particular. Community Foundation Locator, Chronicle Philanthropy grant Station Instrumental. For a fee, it matches you with active grants that you put in your organization’s profile, services unique things about your community, and instrumental matches you, which is really cool mozilla then there are philanthropic programs. That’s a website, knightsfoundation.org There’s Nonprofit, Expert, Website, Fundraiser, Help Grants plus, of course, if you join the Association of Fundraising Professionals, there’s a local chapter that where you can attend meetings, network with fellow fundraisers, and learn about all your local opportunities in your community for funds, the businesses, and that have foundations that they’re funding things or your local Chamber of Commerce, of course grants. Dot gov grant watch grant news grant station guide star Guide Step. You can do it at the free level, where you can at least get information on all types of nonprofits, where you can see their nine nineties, their mission, their vision, their board member profiles and names. You can search locally and buy keywords on that application, or you can upgrade. Where it costs money and you can get more in depth information about an organization there’s Network for Good, Foundation Directory online, as you know, Google Tech Grants for Nonprofits and Google Ad Grants. Then there’s of course the county and state level grants mentioned Chamber of Commerce. At the county and state level, you really want to choose the department that most closely relates to your mission. So if your health related nonprofit your best bets the Department of Health and Human Services or the Public Health department, then of course don’t forget your board members. As you do your research for funders, take note of any foundation, trustees and staff and forward those names to your board and see if they have any connections in the community to them. Consider directly asking your board members if they know any family foundations, corporate foundations, or other grant makers who might be interested in supporting your work, and if they’d be willing to make that introduction. You’re going to look at annual reports of foundations and funders and Google newspaper articles about them who’s giving to organizations that are similar to yours? Put any of those like minded funders on your mailing list and start seeing the materials about your organization. Then of course, Google as your friend. Sometimes just a good old Google search is all you need. But you have to be ready to have keywords on hand. So you have to decide what are the 10 or 20 keywords that describe what you do, what problem you solve, and what your need is. So you can do subject matter, keywords, geographic area, your target audience, gender, race, ethnicity, health condition, any other parameters that fit your nonprofit, and just make your list in advance so that you can focus your search more easily.

Jacob Barr :

Well that’s good. So the Google ads grant is for like a credit with Google more so than money. But it I was sort of are most grants for money or there are several others that are for credits or something else than money?

Shawn Zierke :

The majority of grants are for money, but they vary. Sometimes they’re product grants. So you could go to Enfamel or you could go to Johnson and Johnson, or you could go to other diaper manufacturers and ask for product.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. I heard that there was AI heard of one clinic talking about how they had like a prenatal vitamin grant for getting prenatal vitamins and then being able to provide those to their community. But yeah, so it sounds like, yeah so that’s interesting about yeah product grant that’s yeah that’s very interesting and that.

Shawn Zierke :

Part. So if you are now being supplied something that you were purchasing, so now that money has shifted somewhere else.

Jacob Barr :

Oh yeah, that’s true. So that yeah, that’s a penny saved as a penny earned.

Shawn Zierke :

That’s correct.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, what are the do’s and don’ts of getting prepared like is there anything that people should avoid doing and trying to get prepared or is there anything that it sounds like you may you got over some of the do’s of getting information collected and organized, but is there anything that they should avoid doing that might be it’s something that you’ve, you know, have learned over time don’t.

Shawn Zierke :

Get discouraged.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, don’t give up it’s good to tell you salesman advice.

Shawn Zierke :

Yeah, don’t stop practicing your messaging. Get really good at being concise start with your big story and use all the words and then back out your messaging so that you when there’s a thousand character limit and you can answer a question about a program, you get really good at character limits.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, yeah, that’s good. My experience with writing is that when you write something it’s easier to be long winded and but it but then the Polish, the editing process will cut those words in half. And then if you apply more Polish, you can refine it further while still maintaining the message that you’re trying to be delivered, that you know trying to deliver with less words. So going on to local and smaller grants, what’s the process like to apply for, you know a grant within someone’s county or city or you know, the smaller grants what’s that what’s that world look like?

Shawn Zierke :

Sometimes that’s a letter of intent, but you’re still outlining the same things, and you’re still having to make sure that you have your documentation in order so that your IRS letter and your mission vision values your list of your board members. You’re a list of all your prior success program successes, whether grant funded or not. How are you making an impact in the community so I would suggest that you start looking at who are you seeing demographically and start recording that if you’re not. Because if you’re not, you’re missing an opportunity to collect data that could be used to support a grand application or a letter of intent. Hey, we know that 20 % of our clientele are African American or American Indian or Hispanic or whatever population that they want to focus on in that grant. We know that 60 % of the women who are coming in with unplanned pregnancies already have other children and they lack these certain services. If you start doing a really good intake. Almost as if you’re thinking about when the when you go to your regular doctor’s appointment and they ask you questions that seem somewhat irrelevant to your appointment at hand. But that’s called meaningful use and they collect that data in order to apply for funding as well. And so it there is meaningful use to collecting that information about your client, but you can use it in the context of risk assessment. For behavioral risk assessment, what put them at risk in the 1st place and made them come in with a unplanned pregnancy or an STD that they wanted check. And in that context, you’re collecting relevant information.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, so some grants are specifically for a certain ethnicity, like American Indian for example, or some grants are specifically for a certain like beside beside someone’s you know, ethnic background it sounds like what were some of the other ones like based on maybe their?

Shawn Zierke :

Marital status, Age, Financial status, Housing status.

Jacob Barr :

You know.

Shawn Zierke :

Are they at risk for mental health or drug addiction? Are they the housing status are they homeless or they just Are they working so employed, Unemployed, underemployed. That would be something else. Those, all that information is important, but when you’re looking at local and smaller grants, they are often less laborious. You just need to know your organization’s story, have the documentation to back it up, and know what sets your programming apart from others. And be able to write it concisely. Because sometimes they’ll fund after a fund right off of a letter of intent and a letter of intent to apply for a grant. Or you do a letter of intent and then they send you back a fill in form that is so simple about basically you’re filling in the budget for the program that you want funded and how you plan to extend the funds. One thing that can be frustrating is that most grants aren’t funding your operational expenses or administrative expenses. It’s program specific, so learning how to write budgets that are program specific, Budgets that show that pull a percentage of time and overhead into them could be something that somebody like me could help you do. Getting the bigger grants, how to get them? Start with small ones get really good at those that will help you build your successful track record or ability to do and analysis of what went wrong when you if you didn’t meet certain benchmarks that were funded and what you would do differently. Sometimes large grants want that information. They want to know how you’ve grown and improved to reach certain target audiences.

Jacob Barr :

So from your experience, you know how would you would you estimate half, more than half or less than half of PRCS are tracking these demographics on their clients like what’s your experience? You know when you when you when you talk to one, do you end up, you know, helping them start tracking this information or are most of them already tracking these demographics in a in a satisfactory way or after talking to you, do they increase how many increase their intake questions?

Shawn Zierke :

So what I find is the majority of clinics are doing the intake and it’s on the, you know, risk questionnaire they do or the new patient documentation, but not all pieces of information are making it into a database and nobody’s going back and compiling the data.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. But if there is a grant requiring it, that might be a good reason. It’s a it’s a good, yeah, a good reminder that they need to be tracking and compiling and yeah, and then using that data.

Shawn Zierke :

Yes.

Jacob Barr :

Exactly how many? Let’s say for example, there’s a clinic who has data that’s not ready to be used. How many months prior does a grant usually require for applying? Let’s let’s say where it’s a Native American grant and we don’t, you know, yeah. Do they expect five months or a year would be like the expectation that? And how much data do they want to see on previous Native Americans that were helped?

Shawn Zierke :

So sometimes it’s how much need is there and are your services going to target the need? If you have a track record of serving that population that you can document, the longer the better. The reason I’m sort of skirting around the answer to your question is that it depends. And because you can present data in a way that fulfills the requirement for the most part, even when you’re lacking on data, it just it’s a creative storytelling and you can focus more on who’s at need and why you’re reaching them. Or if it’s a new fund program you’re having funded, you may not have any data on how those outcomes are and that’s why you need this funded, but you know that they’re in your community and the US Census data is showing you that they’re the ones that are in need.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, so if someone wants to apply so for local and smaller grants, what’s a good place to find? You know, a list or a place to start.

Shawn Zierke :

So that’s what I’m saying you want to start with your board. You want to use these databases. You want to join your local association of fundraising professionals and go to a local chapter meeting you can use things like instrumental that really works at a local level as well. And once you set that up, then they’re constantly send you emails of what matches your services and your demographic that you serve.

Jacob Barr :

Ok.

Shawn Zierke :

Google search is really helpful too really. So there’s some companies in Iowa that we know are conservatively owned and they’re pro-life by virtue of their ownership and they also have foundations attached to the corporation. And so they’re looking to Those foundations are looking to fund community organizations like pregnancy centers that will further their personal convictions.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. What’s the what’s the So what going into like the bigger grants. So after someone gets experience and confidence and several approvals of smaller grants, what’s the transition like to start applying for the bigger, larger grants?

Shawn Zierke :

Get your Sam’s number and your Dunn’s number and now that you have a track record, you have a story, You have successful program data. I mean, I would always be looking for them both and take the leap if you feel so inclined. But just know that federal funds are going to be very specific about how they should be used and they’re not going to infringe on. If they’re funding you, they’ve already checked out your organization and how you do business and what you’re about. And if they fund you, they’re not designed to come in and shut you down or tell you can’t do certain things. They’re going to. They’ve already outlined the parameters of how their funds can be used in the grant, and by accepting the funds you agree to that.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, Do grant, do people who review grant applications, do they like to see that your organization’s been funded by other grants is that a positive?

Shawn Zierke :

Very much so, very much so. And the other thing about those that make the decisions, they are really looking for you to be very clear and concise and compelling and all of that inside of easy to understand you don’t want to use double talk. They’re not going to make a phone call to ask you to clarify something. If they if they phone you, they’ve already decided they like you and that maybe they’re deciding between you and somebody else and they’re not going to give you the full amount. They really make decisions based on their scoring criteria, their rubrics, and exactly what you submitted. So if you didn’t submit it all, they’re not going to infer anything, OK?

Jacob Barr :

So how much time does it take to apply for a small grant or a large grant like what’s the amount of hours needed?

Shawn Zierke :

There’s a decent amount of hours up front to prepare. If your new organization have zero track record, is going to take you a lot to get ready. If you have been doing it and you have a calendar and you have a plan and you know what you want to apply to, you have a concise story around each of your programs and who you’re reaching and how you’re reaching them and you have a program budget. And then you have them all ready to go and you always have your same grant support documentation that I listed always in the file, then it can be very quick knowing where to go to for your local public health data, County Health Rankings is a great resource. Us Census Data is another great resource I to get your public health data of how you the need in your community. I provide all of that through my consulting service.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, yeah so Speaking of your consulting service, what’s it like to hire a grant writer and what questions would you suggest or recommend someone ask when trying to consider who to help them write grants and that apply?

Shawn Zierke :

If they want to hire a grant writer, you first question for me in their pregnancy center is, are you pro-life And tell me about your background working in this field.

Jacob Barr :

Perfect.

Shawn Zierke :

The next thing is once you’ve established that but you all are aligned, is tell me what you’ve done or have you worked for or written grants for anybody in my state or for me personally? I always ask them to send. I look up organizations on guide star myself and look at their nine nineties and as much information as I can glean, but I want them to send me their bylaws i want them to I have a great readiness and a organizational questionnaire about all their services and their community and stuff like that so I get that profile up front and see if I can quickly match them with things in their area. But often they come to me and say, look, I really just want to fund this. Do you know of anything? And so then I back up and say, well, have you gotten any other grant funds do you have these basic pieces of documentation that are required to apply as a nonprofit? But I always want to know about the organization.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, so do you end up making like a list of all of the grants that might apply to someone in their local slash category of service? Like is it like an excel spreadsheet with, you know, just row after row of different grants and then along with the criterias or how do you go about managing, you know?

Shawn Zierke :

They couldn’t afford that necessarily up front for me to do that. But I will teach them how to do that. Ok, good. And if an organization can afford for me to do that, then they could, they should hire a grant writer on their staff. Ok. So Speaking of.

Jacob Barr :

Coaching or teaching someone? What’s that like for you to help coach or instruct a person on a Tracy Clinics team to do that grant writing work or what’s that look like?

Shawn Zierke :

So I give them templates and checklists and help. I find out about their local community and what’s available, and I direct them towards it i may find them contact names and look at who’s on their board and help them do everything that I just listed out.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, yeah, that’s really interesting like, you know, sort of like that middle ground of empowering someone to collect the information and then you’re there with the expertise on guiding or coaching them into the right. Yeah, into the right areas and well this is a lot of really good information and I’m thinking that so what % and this is obviously maybe a gut number but or an estimation, but what % of clinics do you think actively pursue grants like from your experience talking to different pricing clinics and obviously they don’t take a take advantage of it fully because that’s that seems somewhat that seems very likely that they don’t take advantage of it fully but what % take advantage of some grants at some level like, are there a lot of most?

Shawn Zierke :

Organizations I yeah, I haven’t quantified the percentage. Ok i would just say very few pregnancy centers write grants.

Jacob Barr :

Like less than 10 % would be probably a safe number or is that or is it possibly more than 10 %?

Shawn Zierke :

Thirty seven hundred pregnancy centers in the US.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah.

Shawn Zierke :

That’s probably safe.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, interesting. Well that’s this is a good idea to get out there and so hopefully we’ll will help stimulate or promote or encourage more clinics to apply and to pursue and to figure this out and ask for help and to. Yeah and to hire help as well awesome. And what has been the result of, you know, when it comes to some of the organizations who do take advantage of grants well, have you know what’s how’s that impact their work and their ability to reach women, Like how would you summarize the benefits of having successful grants well?

Shawn Zierke :

Obviously the funding for projects that are important to your organization having that funding happens and so that’s important it.

Jacob Barr :

Seems like some things it might be out of reach otherwise, like for the you were mentioning some grants are therefore helping nurses receive their highest level of accreditation in a certain area, which is probably, well, it has a price tag tied to it, and so having a grant assist with that might be the difference, might be, yeah, whether you know, without the grant your nurses might be at a mediocre level, but with the grant they’re at the highest level, perhaps.

Shawn Zierke :

Well not only that but in the state of Florida and Iowa they and other states they’re they assist with the salaries of either the preceptor nurses or the nurse residents the ones training and so the local career source or workforce boards are offsetting salary during that training time. And so that’s a really big issues for non profit profits in general is paying people what they’re worth. And so if you’re able to train your nurses who are making great money out in the for profit world or in the hospital sector, then you keep them longer, you and you’re not worried about underpaying them. I mean, clinics that don’t pay people what they’re or pregnancy centers that don’t pay people what they’re worth could be accused of stealing from them.

Jacob Barr :

Or they might have a high turnover rate and then having to retrain people repeatedly as a well, it just sort of reduces the ability to just grow because you’re essentially trying to reshuffle the team repeatedly, yes. So going back to the idea of going to your board and asking them for grants, So would a board member know of a grant or would a board member be specifically poised to help apply for a grant what would that look like for going to the board?

Shawn Zierke :

That depends on the board profile and who’s on your board. But you, I mean board members, should be giving to your organization themselves out of their own pocket. They should be key connectors in your community to who they know. If you have strategically recruited and placed individuals on your board because of the knowledge that they bring that benefits the operation of your organization or the connection of the community so that you can be funded, whether through regular donations or corporations or grants, then having them on your board should be strategic for that. But board members should be expected to use their connections and influence in the community for your organization.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, so for pricing clinics who don’t have a grant writer on staff who might be, does it usually fall and when it comes to someone who will fill that role in a coaching style or in some way, was that used does that usually fall on the executive director or does that sometimes fall on the board member or depending on who their staff is but maybe is it one of those two roles or does someone use or do they sometimes have volunteers who will help? I have worked.

Shawn Zierke :

With volunteers who needed help. I have executive directors predominantly, but also development.

Jacob Barr :

Directors OK. Development directors OK, that makes sense. I can’t think of any other questions i think this was a really good intro for people who either have done it lightly and can be encouraged to do it more, or for people for clinics who haven’t done much as of yet and they could start to grow this grant funding to yeah, to grow the organization’s ability to reach their community.

Shawn Zierke :

Yes, I agree awesome well, I really appreciate you having me on to talk about this. Obviously, I’m passionate about it and would hope that more pregnancy centers would pursue grants so that they don’t need money that’s available to them in their community, on the table, and not in their organization.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome well, I really appreciate your time, Sean this was really helpful and I’m excited to share this with executive directors because I just know that they need to be encouraged in this area i it just seems like there’s a, you know, a fraction of a % are, you know, essentially there’s a lot of room for growth here for clinics to ask for funding and also to under sort of dispel the myth or the myth the idea that, you know, the grant goes beyond what’s in the application when it comes to controlling what someone can do through the organization. And so understanding that it’ll help fund a part that aligns with what the grants purpose is that makes a lot of sense and that sort of dispels that idea that by taking this grant money, we’re going to have to take on new unwritten control factor regulations yeah. And so that’s definitely probably a lot of people have avoided applying for grants with the idea that they didn’t want to have unknown controls. Yeah, regulating on them or having in regulations applied.

Shawn Zierke :

Yeah, it’s a combination of that and the amount of work involved if you’ve never done it before so that fear factor, fear of the unknown, it’s like trying to get ready to write your first term paper in college and you or high school and you’ve never done it before and it can seem daunting. So having somebody script you and help give you an outline for this first, this next now this can really take away the fear factor and being overwhelmed.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah And being able to reuse that work, what % of the work do you think gets reused from 1 grant application to the next is it like 80 % of what you wrote on one might be?

Shawn Zierke :

Probably 75 % is.

Jacob Barr :

Ok.

Shawn Zierke :

As an average, some of them you can just flip them out and change The Who it’s to and what, because the what you’re asking for is the same and who you are is the same and what who you’re going to reach is the same and how you’re going to do it is the same and so that would be.

Jacob Barr :

You know, very big change and yeah, change a few names. That’s very convenient.

Shawn Zierke :

Criteria for one, and what they’re looking for is different then you may have to move things around, but it’s the same information.

Jacob Barr :

Ok, yeah, that makes sense. And then being able to lean on someone who has experience in all of these areas such as yourself is just so valuable for encouragement and for confidence and being able to reach and awesome well, i hope that people reach out to you and ask for help and because i truly believe that you can help a lot and I hope that people reach out soon because I can imagine your schedule becoming you know, full or booked and so it’s good to get on.

Shawn Zierke :

To your calendar, a care net conference the end of August so hopefully I get to talk to a lot of people that are listening to this.

Jacob Barr :

In person, that’s true, yeah there and i send this off to executive directors, apprentice clinics, along with some other pro-life leaders and so hopefully people will get a chance to Mull this over and consider it. But yeah, just being visible there on the care net floor at a for people to interact with you, I think you’re going to help a lot of organizations with their grant work, which is, which is awesome, just so exciting.

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