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Melanie R. Negrin "Merocuné Marketing & Public Relations" RSS Feed (Morris County, NJ USA)
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The Secret Society® - Hidden Mystery
The Secret Society® - Hidden Mystery
Offered by Appstore - US - MP - Offer
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Challenge, August 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Some objects are too small, but the overall game play is excellent. A nice challenge. We just made our first friend. Looking forward to seeing how that element of the game works out.


50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop
50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop
by Amy R. Eisenstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.46
28 used & new from $22.40

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Fundraising Guide for Small to Mid-Size Nonprofits in Start-Up or Transition, June 28, 2011
This review was first published on the For GrantWriters Only learning blog at [..]

In my consulting practice I specialize in working with nonprofit organizations and other service-based entrepreneurs that are in a start-up or transitional stage of growth. I'm happy to say that there is now a book that can help each and every one of them, and I always recommend it.

50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop by Amy Eisenstein, Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) is a breath of fresh air when it comes to books on fundraising. A quick and easy read for those who are already overwhelmed with how much they need to learn in order to operate and grow a business, it lays out a simple plan for incorporating "Asks" into the everyday, and by doing so, both strengthening relationships and increasing support dollars flowing into the organization.

The Language of Fundraising

Amy clearly lays out the language of fundraising and addresses common challenges in its implementation - from helping board members understand their role in the process to clarifying the process itself. For example, did you know that the solicitation (or "ask" part of the process - the one most people are hesitant to engage in) represents only 5% of the process? The most time-intensive part of the process (and, not coincidentally, the more fun part) lies in cultivation (50%) and stewardship (35%) ... or, in other words, in developing and maintaining good relationships with people who are passionate about our cause. The remaining 10% of the process, which is often the most research-intensive part of the process, is identification.

Amy also address some common misperceptions about fundraising that new organizations have. For example, she says,

"The old saying `quality not quantity' rings true in the fundraising context. It is more important to make smart, informed asks than to make a certain numbers of asks each year. So although increasing the overall number of asks your organization is making is crucial, it is not enough. Prospective donors, whether foundations, corporations or individuals, must be carefully researched, cultivated, solicited, and stewarded. If you ask one hundred times per year, but do not receive any gifts, then frequency becomes irrelevant."

An Easy-to-Implement Development Plan

In 50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop, Ms. Eisenstein addresses the following major areas of fundraising as part of a total development plan: board giving, bulk solicitation via direct mail, email and social media, individual giving, grant writing, and events. She provides easy-to-implement tips on getting started with each type of development program, and at the end, helps you understand how they all build up to 50 asks in one year (about 1 ask per week). Very doable!

Leadership for Organizational Growth

Near the end of 50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop, Ms. Eisenstein provides Executive Directors with guidance on key management topics such as when and how to hire your first development director (and understanding how the E.D.'s role in fundraising will change after you do), creating a fundraising culture within the organization (and the board), and setting reasonable team goals for development.

I absolutely love Amy's Board Expectation Form and think everyone should use it. Completed annually and used as a tool for measuring board performance, it sets forth each board member's 1) financial commitment (via a direct pledge or pledge of participation by his company) and 2) leadership commitment as part of at least one committee. It also requires an acknowledgement by the board member that meeting attendance is a requirement for Board membership. The Board Expectation form, along with a comprehensive Board Orientation Packet, provides clear indicators for performance.

Setting the Right Expectations

If you're new to fundraising keep this in mind ... according to Amy, executive directors often have "unrealistic expectations for what development staff can accomplish, especially with the tools and resources that they are given. A new development staff member will raise money in the first year, but it is not likely to (cover the individual's salary via) unrestricted dollars." Often money raised in the first year through grants is more than the individual's salary, but as restricted program dollars, it cannot be spent on staff salary. So be prepared to cover the development staff's salary with unrestricted dollars from other sources, and set other more realistic expectations, like ...

1) Put a plan in place to achieve 100% board participation in fundraising.
2) Research and apply for eight to ten new grants. Establish relationships with foundation staff members.
3) Plan two parties for prospective donors at the homes of board members.
4) Identify ten individual prospects and create cultivation plans for each. Schedule meetings with them to meet board members and the E.D.

Then measure success and build upon the progress you've made.

In Conclusion

50 Asks in 50 Weeks: A Guide to Better Fundraising for Your Small Development Shop is sure to stay in my permanent business library, and it should be a part of yours, too. Simple changes can lead to big results. I give this book - and its author - my highest recommendation.

P.S. If you ever get a chance to hear Amy speak at a Grant Professionals Association (GPA) or Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) event, be sure to do so. She is both down-to-earth and engaging. I consider it a privilege to have met her at local GPA events here in New Jersey.


Miss Fannie's Hat (Picture Puffins)
Miss Fannie's Hat (Picture Puffins)
by Jan Karon
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.29
74 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A touching reminder for all those who ask for major gifts, November 10, 2010
It isn't often that I come across a children's book that carries the perfect message for grant writers and fundraisers alike. We are always talking about getting to know our donors, building relationships with them, and finding the right ways to acknowledge their generosity, and Miss Fannie's Hat covers it all in a heartfelt and tender way.

In Miss Fannie's Hat, author Jan Karon recounts the story of her grandmother, Fannie, who lived to be one hundred years old. A beloved member of her church congregation, she became well known for her fanciful hats. Each Sunday, she would attend church wearing one, and she'd never wear the same hat two Sundays in a row.

A young pastor kindly asks Miss Fannie if she will donate one of her hats as part of an auction to help raise money to repair the church in time for Easter morning. As she makes the difficult decision about which hat to donate, Miss Fannie recalls the memories associated with each one, memories those outside her family may never know or appreciate.

The hat she chooses to donate turns out to be the one she's worn to church every Easter for more than twenty years, so when it comes time to get ready for church on Easter morning, she finds herself at a loss for which hat to select. For the first time in as long as her daughter can remember, Miss Fannie attends church with no hat at all, choosing to reveal instead her "hair as soft as the feathers of a dove".

Upon arriving at church, Miss Frannie and her daughter are delighted to find not only that the church bell and organ are repaired but that the church is surrounded by gardens filled with pink roses, roses reminiscent of the hat Miss Fannie so loved. "Now, when people pass the little white church, they think they're seeing a garden of dazzling pink roses. But what they're really seeing is Miss Fannie's hat. And it will always, always be her favorite."

Can you imagine a more fitting way to acknowledge the great gifts of our congregation and demonstrate appreciation for the sacrifice given?

I give this book my highest recommendation and hope that if you are a member of a nonprofit organization, you will use this story to help your volunteers, board members, and staff understand the deep emotion that comes with cultivating each great gift.


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story
by John Berendt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.04
734 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of character development and historical nonfiction, September 13, 2010
The title sounds like fiction, and the story unfolds like fiction, but it's nonfiction - a historical novel about Savannah, GA. Anyone who wants to practice their character development writing skills should read this book! It's the most engaging piece of nonfiction I've ever read.


Best Practices In Grant Seeking: Beyond The Proposal
Best Practices In Grant Seeking: Beyond The Proposal
by Saadia Faruqi
Edition: Paperback
Price: $80.81
36 used & new from $33.77

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for grant professionals at all levels!, June 21, 2010
As reviewed on the ForGrantWritersOnly learning blog ...

As grant writers, most of us know that the proposal is only one piece of the funding puzzle. In fact, it is often the piece that's placed last, after much of the work is already done ... vision and mission development, strategy setting, program planning, execution and measurement, the building of strong boards and volunteer programs, engagement with the public so that they know both who we are and how they can best help us achieve a shared vision, and, of course, collaboration with other community agencies and organizations that create change in the lives we most hope to touch.

But if you've read books on grant seeking, or you've looked for coursework focused on building skill in grant writing, these elements - the ones that often pave the way to a successful grant proposal - are typically missing. This is not true of Best Practices in Grant Seeking: Beyond the Proposal, a recent addition to the grant writer's library.

Saadia Faraqui acknowledges in her introduction to the book, "It is rarely enough to write excellent proposals and sit back, waiting for them to get funded. No matter how brilliant the writer, it is not the proposal that gets accepted - or rejected - but the program and the people who run it."

In 2004, Ms. Faruqi engaged in a research study that clearly demonstrated:

"Organizations typically do not provide sufficient support and involvement to the grant seeking process at the leadership level, leaving grant professionals to be researchers, relationship-builders, community advocates, program designers, reporters, and grant managers. Few organizations, regardless of size, create grant seeking strategies that include not just the writer, but programs and public relations staff, board members, volunteers, and even clientele. This is done in many cases for other fundraising activities, such as major gifts or capital campaigns and even special events, but almost never for grants."

So where does that leave us? Often frustrated, because we can't get the information we need from the people who have it, and burnt out, because no one seems to acknowledge that funding success is less likely without the same support afforded to other aspects of an organization's fundraising.

Redefining the Grants Function

Major factors impacting grant funding, according to Ms. Faruqi's research:

1. board relationships with funders,
2. positive community image,
3. successful site visits before the grant award,
4. non-soliciting contact with funders,
5. good reporting practices, and
6. well-designed programs.

Through her chapters on fostering internal relationships, developing community image, designing stellar programs, and uniting to do good, Ms. Faruqi helps us put into place the critical elements that come before the grant proposal. Her next set of chapters focus on organizing (and measuring) the grants function, knowing our funders, and crafting winning proposals. Section three focuses on site visits, the critical time between grant submission and grant award. The last two chapters focus on stewardship and relationship building.

Ms. Faruqi allows us to see the grants function in perspective and prioritize our time and talent accordingly. If you're a grant writer that doesn't get involved with board development, publicity, program development, program evaluation, and stewardship, you may only be doing part of the job. That's assuming you want to be as successful as you can possibly be, and that grant writing is about more than just writing to you. Do you want to fuel some kind of change in the world? Most of us have chosen grant writing as our contribution to an effort.

Now, More Than Ever

It has become clear in this downturned economy that the touch points we have with our funders, the relationships we have built, have more influence on whether we receive a grant than ever before. When given a choice between someone they know and they're comfortable with (someone who has already proven to be a good investment), and someone they know only a little about through their grant proposal, it's easier, less risky, to go with #1.

More than ever, we need to understand all elements that influence proposal success and to do all that we can to engage our full organization in the pursuit and development of the relationships that make our dreams more viable.

A Note for Consultants

If you're a consultant interested in supporting the work of new and emerging nonprofits, this knowledge is even more essential. Why? Because before we jump into any grant seeking campaign for a new nonprofit, we need to help them put the right elements in place to support that effort. We need to help them set the right expectations, to understand what things need to be in place to maximize their grant writing success. They entrust us with that.

Best Practices in Grant Seeking: Beyond the Proposal is an excellent investment. I give it my highest recommendation.


Careers in Grant Writing
Careers in Grant Writing
by Ms. Caroline S. Reeder
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
14 used & new from $15.55

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource for Those Exploring the Field of Grant Writing, February 10, 2010
If you are new to grant writing, it can often take quite awhile before you feel you're "up to speed" on what's happening in the nonprofit world and where you fit in as a potential grant writer.

In Careers in Grant Writing, Caroline S. Reeder addresses the basics of getting started:

* What do grant writers do?
* What skills and traits are helpful?
* Where do grant writers work?
* What does the typical day look like for a grant writer?
* How much can I make as a grant writer?

At the same time, she addresses the myths and realities of life as a grant professional:

* Grants are not free money; they are an agreement made between two parties for a specific action to be carried out for a specified sum - a contract. You cannot just use the money any way you want to.

* Grant writers don't just write; they research potential funders, develop relationships with donors, help develop programs, and more.

* Grant writers do not develop proposals all by themselves; collaboration with many different people within an organization is required to develop a winning proposal.

So, if you're just getting started in grant writing and you want to get a quick overview of what to expect in the field, this is a terrific book to read.


The Littlest Volunteers
The Littlest Volunteers
by Danielle Speckhart
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A vibrantly told, inspirational story about involving children in community service, October 5, 2009
As an individual who has been involved in community service from a young age, someone who married a man equally involved in servant leadership, and the parent of two young children that have developed their own passion for keeping the world "healthy", I am always on the lookout for resources to help me involve my children in the gift of service. Because of liability reasons, many nonprofit organizations choose to limit volunteering to teens, but those that can cultivate the passion of children even younger will find great loyalty.

This vibrantly illustrated story about Annie the ant and her experiences with volunteering is beautiful. Annie says, "I don't think I am big enough to volunteer." Her mother responds, "You have a big heart and that's a great start. The rest is up to you." And indeed, it is. As Annie dreams up a way that she can help others in her community, she gets a warm feeling in her heart. At school the next day, she rallies her friends to host a "Help Your Neighbors Day". Everyone has lots of fun and gets to witness first-hand the reward that comes with service.

If you are interested in engaging your children in community service and are looking for a creative way to help get them started, this is a terrific book. It can jump-start a conversation about volunteering at a soup kitchen, with the homeless, by collecting food and clothes, by visiting sick "bugs" in the hospital, and more.

Highly recommended. A rare treat in children's literature.


The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story
DVD ~ Noah Hathaway
Offered by SOUTHWEST MEDIA
Price: $6.99
182 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Story of Imagination & Triumph, August 14, 2009
This review is from: The Neverending Story (DVD)
The NeverEnding Story is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's the story of how Sebastian begins reading a very special book and page by page becomes a part of it. Without him the hero of the story cannot triumph in his quest. The characters are all magical, as are the sets. My favorite is Falcor, the luck dragon. There is joy and sadness in the movie (which, by the way, does not really follow the book), and you feel every emotion. Highly recommended! (However, I do not recommend the movie sequels 1 & 2).


Get Motivated!: Overcome Any Obstacle, Achieve Any Goal, and Accelerate Your Success with Motivational DNA
Get Motivated!: Overcome Any Obstacle, Achieve Any Goal, and Accelerate Your Success with Motivational DNA
by Tamara Lowe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.13
269 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potentially Transformative on Both a Personal & Professional Level ... Application to the Nonprofit World, August 14, 2009
I recently read Get Motivated! Overcome Any Obstacle, Achieve Any Goal, and Accelerate Your Success with Motivational DNA by Tamara Lowe, and I would highly recommend it to everyone. Like other tools to understand ourselves and others, Tamara Lowe's Motivational DNA matrix is potentially transformative, on both a personal and a professional level.

In the book, four laws of motivation are laid out: 1) everyone is motivated differently; 2) each individual has a unique and distinct motivational type; 3) what motivates one person can de-motivate another; and 4) no one motivational type is better than any other. Each motivational type has its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these types can significantly impact the way you interact with your staff, volunteers, board members, and donors.

Each of us reflects a bit of each motivational type, but we also have a dominant combination. The basic dynamics of each motivational profile are a combination of the following:

Drives: The internal forces that mobilize a person to act.

Are you driven to increase Production or Connection?

Needs: The core requirements that you must have to feel fulfilled.

Do you need Stability or Variety?

Awards: The preferred ways you desire to be recognized for achievement.

Are you motivated by Internal Rewards or External Rewards?

It may seem straightforward, but I encourage you to take the online quiz at [...], because my actual results were slightly different than what I thought they'd be. I expected to be a CVI (Connections, Variety, Internal), and I turned out to be a PVI (Production, Variety, Internal).

1. Directors - Motivational Type PSI (Producer, Stability, Internal)

Driven by results, need a stable environment (not likely to challenge the status quo), are rewarded by less tangible awards such as private recognition, internal feeling that the work is worth doing, etc.

Have any volunteers, staff, board members, or donors that match this profile?

2. Visionary - Motivational Type PVI (Producer, Variety, Internal

Driven by results, thrive on variety and are likely to shake things up, are rewarded by less tangible awards such as private recognition, internal feeling that the work is worth doing, etc.

If you are a consultant, working with multiple clients, does this fit you?

3. The Chief - Motivational Type PSE (Producer, Stability, External)

Driven by results, need a stable environment (not likely to challenge the status quo), rewarded by tangible awards such as public recognition, higher pay, etc.

Some corporate CEOs probably fit this type.

4. The Champion - Motivational Type PVE (Producer, Variety, External)

Driven by results, thrive on variety and are likely to shake things up, rewarded by tangible awards such as public recognition, higher pay or status, etc.

Many entrepreneurial CEOs probably fit this type.

5. The Supporter - Motivational Type CSI (Connection, Stability, Internal)

Driven by relationships, need a stable environment (not likely to challenge the status quo), rewarded by less tangible awards such as private recognition, internal feeling that the work is worth doing, etc.

Have any donors that fit this profile?

6. The Relater - Motivational Type CVI (Connection, Variety, Internal)

Driven by relationships, thrive on variety and are likely to shake things up, rewarded by less tangible awards such as private recognition, internal feeling that the work is worth doing, etc.

Perhaps your events staff matches this style.

7. The Refiner - Motivational Type CSE (Connection, Stability, External)

Driven by relationships, need a stable environment (not likely to challenge the status quo), rewarded by tangible awards such as public recognition, etc.

Perhaps some of your corporate supporters fall into this category.

8. The Explorer - Motivational Type CVE (Connection, Variety, External)

Driven by relationships, thrive on variety and are likely to shake things up, rewarded by tangible awards such as public recognition, higher pay, etc.

Perhaps the motivational type for individuals who love to travel the world, meet new people, and make a lot of money. Know anyone like that?

To learn more, including what motivates and demotivates each style, and also get some tips on how to achieve your personal goals, read the book or take the Motivational DNA Test.

If you purchase the book, Tamara Lowe includes numerous bonus items. Ms. Lowe is also donating 100% of her proceeds from this book to children's charities.

I hope you will add this book to your collection and use the profile to understand and balance the dynamics of your staff, volunteers, and board members. Use it to segment your donors, and learn how to reward them for their generosity in the most effective way.

Set achievable goals for yourself using the knowledge gained about your own Motivational DNA. Improve relationships with coworkers, friends, and family. The potential application of this knowledge is tremendous.


Caillou's Holiday Movie
Caillou's Holiday Movie
DVD ~ Caillou
27 used & new from $0.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific for teaching the history behind Christmas, August 14, 2009
This review is from: Caillou's Holiday Movie (DVD)
The first time my family watched this short film, we loved it. Caillou is always a winner, but this story of how the traditions of Christmas evolved, played out with the help of an Advent calendar and bedtime stories, is such a wonderful holiday treat that we added the DVD to our permanent collection. Watching it again, it's still a hit.


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