Grant Rant

Maybe it’s all the rain we’ve had this spring.  Maybe it’s all of the division along political lines.  Whatever it is, we’re grumpy.  We have something to get off our chest.  We feel a rant coming on!

SO many people misuse the word grant!

Since we work in the world of grantmaking, we notice it.  A lot!  We’d like to offer clarification.  Here we go:

  • When people sit down to apply to our foundation or any other, they often say, “I’m writing a grant.” In truth, these folks are writing a grant proposal.
  • A grant proposal only becomes a GRANT when decision makers—in our case, our Dekko Foundation board of directors—vote YES!
  • People who write grant proposals for a living often call themselves grant writers. In truth, they are proposal writers.

So, now, it’s off our chest!  As rants go, it was mercifully short.  We hope it’ll be useful for you and help you professionalize your work.

Whew!  We feel better.


Like eating the cone without the ice cream

If you think of the Dekko Foundation only as a place to get grant money, you’re missing something big that could help you accomplish your mission!

Mr. Dekko’s endowment allows us to make about $10 million in grants each year—and we know, money helps.  But it’s obvious to us that we have a lot more than money to offer those of you out there on the front lines of developing children and young people.  (And let’s face it, there are SO many problems that money alone can’t solve!)

Our boss, Tom Leedy, challenges us to think of the Dekko Foundation as a collection of resources.  He wants us to be sure to maximize everything the Foundation has on hand to impact children’s development.

Here are just a few ways we can help organizations move forward:

  • We’re willing to talk before you send a grant proposal. Yesterday afternoon our Jenna Ott met with a grantseeker who just wanted to explore a proposal idea.  Just good conversation and answers to questions about grant proposals (which can be kind of scary).
  • We’ve seen some wonderful success stories: This week Joe Pounds is down south with a group of school leaders introducing them to one of our grantees and sharing ideas for students’ vocational exploration.
  • We know people. Just today Sharon Smith connected one of our long-time grantees, Jeff Wike, to a consultant (Ruth Stone from CDO Consulting).  Out of kindness, Ruth helped Jeff with something new he’s trying.
  • We share inspiration: Our Kimberly Schroder is passionate about improving learning environments for early childhood and elementary education.  She tries to be contagious when it comes to sharing grantees’ successes.
  • We have in-house know-how. Our Kim Davidson shares her fundraising experience with grantseekers.  Ashlee Guthrie applies her retail experience to nonprofit scenarios.  We bring in our Robin McCormick for financial/compliance inquiries.  Catering and entertaining questions fall into the capable hands of our Nan Meyer.
  • We have great information on the development of children and young people.


So, the bottom line is, yes, we do make grants.  We’re also a resource for people and organizations who want to offer the best in child/youth development.  We’re a phone call (260-347-1278) or email ( away.

Don’t settle for the cone.  We’re offering ice cream and sprinkles!

We really like how you think!



Mr. Dekko left us with two major things.

  • A savings account or endowment that has grown to about $228 million.
  • The mission to foster economic freedom through education.

When we’re at work we talk about economic freedom all the time.  We define it as: “The ultimate liberty to make choices about one’s own life.”  We started wondering if any of you ever think about economic freedom.  Last week we asked our Facebook fans to tell us their definition.  They were pretty impressive–we thought we’d share are few of them here.

My definition of Economic Freedom:

Natalie Reick Axel:  To live a comfortable, independent life with the ability to prepare for the future.

Timothy Bruce:  The freedom to prosper within a country without intervention from a government or economic authority.  individuals are free to secure and protect ones’ own human resources, labor and private property.

Shannon Lowenberg Harper:  Economic freedom is the ability to continually increase the quality of life for yourself, your family and your community by striving to be the best you can be.  To make a difference and serve in any and all ways you can.

Doris Winkler Hobbs:  Economic freedom allows one to be ‘all that he or she can be.’  One can set goals, and have the freedom of striving to attain those goals.  One may choose their occupation or profession to earn they money, then are able to choose to spend that money on material goods or investments…all without the intervention of the government.

Doug Jones:  Having just enough.

Sara McAlexander:  “It is the ability to volunteer and help different people, churches, business and civic organizations, not only in our communities but the state and our country.  Not to have to worry about how your ends are gonna meet so that you can volunteer.

Julie Neas:  The freedom to make an impact on your community.  being able to not only take care of yourself but help others as well.

Renea Salyer:  Economic freedom is peace of mind and the ability to reach your dreams without limitations.

We’re always interested in your take on our mission–so let us know if you have economic freedom thoughts!

Top 5 reasons we love you, our grantees!


We meet the most wonderful people in our line of work! With Valentine’s Day upon us, it seemed timely to gush just a little. So, without further ado, here are the Top Five reasons why we love you:

5. You’re dedicated to children and your community! In our 34 years as a foundation we can’t remember a single grantee that didn’t have the best interest of children and community in mind. Folks, you encourage us!

4. You want to learn and get better. As foundation leaders we continually strive for ways to accomplish our mission and that means that we often challenge you with new words, ideas and accountability. So many of you embrace these changes and challenges and strive along with us.

3. You’re inspired (as we are) by Mr. Dekko’s vision of economic freedom! Economic freedom is the ultimate liberty to make choices about one’s own life. We ask, “Is this a beautiful vision, or what?”

2. You tell us when we need to do better. We know it’s not easy to state the brutal facts to a funder that can offer support to your organization. And yet, many of you do! Some of you disagree on the reasons why a proposal is declined. A few of you think our email marketing stinks. All of you wish the 100-word limit on our grant applications would somehow get flushed. Your comments make us sit up, take notice and change things when it makes sense.

1. You work HARD! We thank you from the bottom of our Valentine’s Day hearts!

WHAT in the world do they want?


Many of us on the staff of the Dekko Foundation have been grantseekers ourselves. Some of us did our grantseeking as volunteers for organizations we’re passionate about, others of us approached foundations in our former jobs.

Bottom line: we know a thing or two about grant applications.

One of the things we know for certain is that they’re hard. When support for your organization, and its work, is on the line it feels very important to get it right.

If you’re experiencing that feeling, we offer two things to help:

  • Grant Application Previews. We feel that, when it comes to helping grantseekers, there’s no such thing as TMI.   Our Grant Application Preview is on our website right along with our grant application. It has a sample answer for EVERY question on our grant application.
  • The opportunity to meet with one of our program officers. You already know that all foundations do their work differently. When we receive your grant proposal, we ask a program officer to meet with you (either in person or on the phone). This way, if you didn’t actually say what you meant to say on your grant proposal, you’ll have a chance to help our program officer understand what you DID mean to say.

Mary Allen, our grants manager, answers the phone with a smile in her voice. She takes calls from grantseekers all day every day. She’s resource number three and available at: 260-347-1278 or