I just returned home from a seminar on grant writing, and I’m pretty stoked!

Monique Philips of MP Consulting Group conducted a terrific seminar tonight at Bamboo Detroit on the topic of Grant Writing 101. Grants are essentially financial aid for nonprofits, and are usually obtained – but often denied! – from foundations and corporations after an (often lengthy and complicated) application process.

I’ve pondered getting into grant writing for the last several years. It will allow me to use my skills in planning, writing, and research to aid nonprofits. I started my career at a nonprofit back in 1997, and have felt increasingly compelled to return to my roots in recent years. I’ve been blessed, and I want to give back.

Grant writing is something that, for the most part, can be done anywhere with a solid internet and phone connection. Since we plan to be nomads for the foreseeable future, that’s a great fit.

And finally,this new endeavor will allow me to continue to grow and learn, albeit perhaps very slowly. *wry grin*  I will learn not just about grant writing, but also about the philanthropic area which I decide to specialize in.

And I will have to specialize. I didn’t realize that until tonight (boy oh boy I have SO much to learn!), but Monique was very emphatic that obtaining grant dollars is not solely dependent on writing a good proposal. Equally important to solid research and compelling narrative is the ability to identify and regularly communicate with potential donors. Uh-oh.

That type of outreach is not easy for someone like me, who does not typically like to talk on the telephone and considers herself an introvert. I tried my hand at sales during college, and hated it! Also, being a nomad, any face-to-face contact is unlikely.

It’s impossible to know who’s who among the thousands of charitable giving organizations and hundreds of thousands of corporations. So to maximize my effectiveness, it sounds like I need to figure out my “niche” so that I can gain familiarity with at least some portion of the philanthropic decision-makers.

Well, that’s all going to take some time. And I’m fine with that. I have a lot to learn, and am forming a semblance of a plan as to how I will learn these topics and gain some experience in the field.

Enough about me. Let me talk about some other folks now. The other reason I was psyched tonight was 1) the location and 2) the other attendees.

Bamboo Detroit is a shared workspace on Brush at Gratiot, where entrepreneurs pay a monthly fee to use the space and its amenities 24/7. It’s an open and funky loft space with friendly owners and $5 parking right across the street (bonus!).

The other attendees were mostly young folk (oh Lord, I feel old!), either employed at local nonprofits or engaged in entrepreneurial ventures. They were engaged in the session and passionate about their work. There was a real energy in the room that felt refreshing and optimistic to me.

Finally, Monique herself was a gem. Apparently this was her first such session, and she did a terrific job of hitting the high points, sharing some lessons learned, and conducting a sample exercise. No BS here. I stayed after the session and spoke with her about my ideas and concerns. It’s a very real possibility that I could be a remote unpaid intern once we get settled into the new RV routine.

This was an exciting glimpse into a new future. There’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I put once foot on the path today, and it felt good!