The Major League Baseball postseason is in full swing!
But, weather conditions play a main factor in any game and nothing dampens the excitement more than a rain delay.
Such was the case in Yankees/Orioles ALDS Game 2 at Camden Yards. Rain was the culprit and, unfortunately, there’s no controlling mother nature.
BTF was curious as to how MLB grounds crews take lead in rain delays and the protocols they follow. We turned to Nicole Sherry, Head Groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, for some answers. See below for her Major League thoughts, protocols and methods to manage inclement weather and ensure player/fan safety:
– The Head Groundskeeper watches for any threatening weather that may impact the start of or play of the game and must be aware of any severe weather alerts
– Once an official weather alert is issued for the ballpark location, the head groundskeeper must alert club officials
– At this time, it is the groundskeeper’s decision to pull the tarp onto the field anytime he or she desires before a game
– The Head Groundskeeper must consistently watch the radar and alert the designated crew chief umpire of any potential threat, timing and duration of storms
– It is then up to the crew chief umpire to make the final call to delay the game by calling for the tarp to be pulled
– A crew chief umpire can also determine the field is still playable during rain, and the grounds crew will apply drying agent to the dirt areas of the field
– Once a game starts, it is crew chief umpire who controls the field of play and the groundskeeper is responsible for feeding the radar information to him
Keep dry and carry on!
In addition to other fundraising techniques, non-profit organizations should always consider applying for grants, especially when planning a specific project. Though the application process will differ from foundation to foundation, there are many grant writing strategies to keep in mind when writing a grant. Several years ago, Sue Davies, an expert in the field, agreed to share her insight and grant writing tips with our readers. We thought it was worth another review today. Thank you, Sue!
About Sue Davies
Sue Davies has raised more than $30 million dollars over the past 20 years from individuals as well as foundation, corporate and government sources. Currently, she is the Associate Vice President for Major Gifts at RutgersUniversity. At Rutgers, she supervises a team of 11 Directors of Development at schools and institutes throughout the University. In addition, Ms. Davies has held fundraising positions at the American Cancer Society, BarnardCollege, the New York Academy of Sciences, MercyCollege and elsewhere.
Ms. Davies also serves as an Adjunct Professor at New York University (NYU) where she teaches courses in grant writing and government fundraising. She has presented trainings at: Do Something, the FoundationCenter, Marymount College, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDHMH), the Nonprofit Success Forum and elsewhere. Over the course of her career, she has been a grant writing consultant for numerous organizations, including the: NYCDHMH, Lymphatic Research Foundation, New York Academy of Sciences, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and others. Moreover, she serves on the Board of Directors of Women in Development, a membership organization of 800 women development professionals in New York City.
BTF: What are the benefits of using a professional grant writer?
Sue Davies: Hiring a professional grant writer as a consultant can be helpful when a nonprofit is beginning to do approach foundation, corporate and government sources. Professional grant writers know the “lay of the land” and can provide direction to an organization that it new to the grant writing process.
BTF: Many volunteer-run non-profits cannot afford professional grant writing help. Are there any free resources for people to improve grant writing skills?
SD: The Foundation Center (www.foundationcenter.org) and its cooperating libraries are an important resource for all nonprofits. These libraries maintain extensive databases on foundations, corporations and other matters pertaining to fundraising. They also offer courses on researching foundations and writing proposal. Access to the library’s collection and databases and many of the courses are free onsite. There is a charge for online access to the databases as well as for some of the courses. Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) also provides free access to 990s (tax returns) for nonprofit organizations, including foundations.
BTF: What planning should be done prior to starting the grant-writing process? What type of information should the grant writer look for when conducting preliminary research about the grant making organization? Is it helpful to research the organizations and projects that have received grants from the grant making organization previously?
SD: The grant writer should be looking to make a match between an important priority of the organization and a giving interest of the foundation. Preliminary research should start with the foundation directory which gives a good synopsis of a foundation’s interests as well as a thorough reading of the foundation’s website (if there is one). It can be important to see the actual grants that a foundation has awarded, but that does not determine future giving.
The grant writer should then work with the leadership of the organizations to identify a program or project that seems to fit within the foundation’s interests. Once this has been done, I always recommend that the organizations call the foundation to see if it is possible to speak or meet with the program officer. If it is possible to have a conversation with the foundation, then I would recommend letting the program officer know that you have reviewed the available information and to ask some specific questions pertaining to the foundation and the program area that is being pursued.
BTF: What are the necessary skills to write a successful grant? Is there a certain writing style that should be used when writing a grant?
SD: First of all, a good match with the foundation’s interests and the nonprofit’s priorities is required. After that, comes the writing. The writing should be clear and in the active voice. The proposal should answer the question: why should this foundation fund this organization for this project at this time. Jargon should be avoided and every effort should be made to write the grant so that someone that does not know the organization and its work can understand the proposal.
BTF: What information must always be provided in a grant request? Is there any information that should not be included?
SD: If the foundation does not have a specific application form, I would recommend following some version of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers (NYRAG) common application form which can be found at (http://www.nyrag.org/s_nyrag/sec.asp?CID=5494&DID=11895).
BTF: Organizations often apply for several grants for the same project. What is the benefit of submitting multiple grants? If applying for several grants, how important is it to tailor a grant request to each funding organizations?
SD: I always recommend that a proposal be submitted to more than one funder as it does increase the chance of the project getting funded. The proposal, however, must be tailored to each funder.
BTF: What are the most common mistakes people make when writing grants? How can they be avoided?
SD: The most common errors that I see in my student’s writing are: 1) assuming that the reader already knows about the organization and program area; 2) illogical arguments; 3) jargon, jargon and more jargon; and 4) whining or overstating that the sky is falling in. Lastly, many grants are not proofread, resulting in numerous typos and other problems that really distract the reader and undermine the effort to obtain funding. Many of these problems will come to light if you have one or more people that are not familiar with your organization or project read the proposal before it is submitted.
BTF: What are the three most important things to keep in mind when writing a grant?
SD: First, foundations are people, so relationship building is key. Second, partnerships advance both organizations’ missions, so make sure to approach funders that share goals with your organization. Thirdly, you will receive more rejections than approvals—don’t forget that you can build a relationship off of a rejection and that re-applications can be successful.
If you are a grant writer and have other tips or advice, we would love to hear from you!
For most grant-making organizations, an applicant’s ability to demonstrate available matching funds to support the proposed project and sustain the program or facility is a key factor of the evaluation criteria. Many grant-making organizations prefer to be one of many sources of funding for an organization or project.
Keep these notes in mind when you are applying for a grant:
- Matching funds may include cash already raised or allocated for the proposed project.
- Matching funds may include donated labor, services or materials relevant to the proposed project – also called in-kind funding. You can estimate the value of in-kind funding by using current cost estimates for the donation (i.e. how much you would have to pay for the item or service if it wasn’t donated.)
- Depending upon the type of project, such as a construction project, it may be very important that the applicant demonstrate available cash for cost increases, overruns or other unexpected costs. Grantmakers will look carefully and think twice if all available matching funds is in-kind with no cash.
- Do not wait until after you submit a grant application to a foundation or corporation to begin your fundraising campaign to individuals. According to data from Giving USA 2012, the Annual Report on Philanthropy highlighted on CharityNavigator.org, giving by individuals represents nearly 9 out of every 10 dollars donated, compared to corporate giving which accounted for just 5% of the total giving last year.
- Think about new and innovative ways to raise funding locally. Consider online donations, fun and casual events like Happy Hours (for adults only, of course), online auctions with donated products and services from local businesses or sponsors, etc. Hold a brainstorming session with members of your organization to make a list of who and what to target. Ask around: see what other non-profits are doing in your community to raise money.
If you only remember one thing: start your local fundraising campaign to individuals and local businesses before applying for a grant from a foundation or corporation.
Many organizations are in this situation. However, it’s important to make an educated decision when accepting a donation of wood poles or purchasing a new system. Before assuming wood poles are the only feasible option, it’s important to learn about the long-term costs and dangers associated with wood poles as well as the benefits and long-term cost savings of other types of poles. Remember, if your organization decides to install field lighting, it becomes your responsibility to the players to provide quality, consistent lighting for their safety and confidence on the field.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is proud to partner with Musco Lighting, Inc. Musco Lighting specializes in the design and manufacture of systems for lighting recreation and athletic fields. Iowa-based with a worldwide reach, Musco is recognized as a world-class leader in sports lighting. Musco’s Light–Structure Green technology reduces by half or more the cost of operating and maintaining ballfield lighting systems, and reduces spill and glare by half or more. More information about Musco Lighting can be found at www.musco.com.
Musco’s publication, Sports Lighting-Answers to 7 Common Questions, includes the following chapter discussing wood poles and other types: Musco – Wooden Poles vs. Steel Poles. No matter what manufacturer or type of poles you decide to install, please read this information before making a decision.
Our friends at Musco are happy to provide free consultation to discuss your particular situation and budget to help you make this important decision. Feel free to call 1-800-825-6030 to talk with a Musco representative.
Submitting a grant proposal is a thrilling and terrifying experience. The fear of rejection and the giddy anticipation of securing the grant co-exist throughout the process. One way grant proposals are rejected is because of small, common and easy to avoid mistakes, also known as “red flags.”
The Foundation Center is the worldwide leading source of philanthropy and philanthropic organization information. The Foundation Center interviewed three executives in the philanthropic sphere to identify top “red flags” that negatively affect the applicant in the grant proposal review.
Richard Brown, Vice President of Philanthropy – American Express
- Incorrectly addressed proposal. This indicates that an organization isn’t paying attention to detail and could be sending proposals in mass.
- It’s important to take the time and tailor each proposal to specific organizations and programs.
Amy Barger, Senior Program Officer – Tiger Foundation
- Finances. If an organization finances are not in order, the foundation will need further clarification.
John Colborn, Vice President of Operations – Ford Foundation
- Budget. If a grantee’s budget does not match up with the activities stated in the proposal
- Outcomes. If an organization has not clearly stated and outlined the expected outcomes of a project.
- Staffing. If there is a lack of clarity to the staffing and organizational capacity of the grantee to support the proposed program.
It is important, when submitting a grant for review, to consider the big picture, but also always take into account the small details. When composing your grant proposal remember the above common mistakes, or “red flags.” Carefully explaining details, finances, budgets and outcomes will ensure one doesn’t fall into the pitfalls of avoidable mistakes.
It’s hard to believe the summer is winding down and that Labor Day Weekend is upon us. We’re looking forward to celebrating it, not in the traditional summer weekend way, but in Austria, with grant recipient, the Austrian Baseball Federation.
On Saturday, September 1st, the Austrian Baseball Federation (ABF) will announce the completion of a new youth baseball field at Athletics Ballpark, home of the Attnang-Puchheim Athletic Club. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) awarded the organization a $104,456 grant to assist in the construction of the field, which was completed in less than six months. Below, Sebastian watches over the construction of the new youth field in Attnang-Puchheim!
The new youth field will support over 300 players from local youth programs and provide a host site for international youth tournaments. The Athletics Ballpark facility is now complete with one regulation baseball field, one youth baseball field, a clubhouse and batting cages, and is the official coaching center for Austria.
Rainer L. Krankl, Vice President Finances of the Austrian Baseball Federation, stated, “The completion of this project marks the realization of a dream for this organization and the community as a whole. Without the support of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, construction of this youth field would not have been possible.”
The Austrian Baseball Federation is the fifth European organization to receive a Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant.
Monday September 3 – Wednesday September 5: Tampa Bay Rays Equipment Collection at Tropicana Field. Donate new or gently used baseball and softball equipment before the games to benefit local Tampa youth leagues.
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
The Mariners hosted a Field Maintenance Clinic yesterday, August 23rd, at Safeco Field. It was the fifth MLB/BTF field maintenance clinic this season and it was a wonderful success. Over eighty participants attended the clinic with representatives coming from Seattle City Parks & Recreation and the Kennewick American Youth Baseball. The clinic focused on providing attendees with practical tips and tricks that they could take back and implement to maintain safe playing fields in the Seattle area.
Baseball Tomorrow Fund’s Executive Director, Cathy Bradley, was on hand for the clinic and snapped some great photos of the attendees and the pros:
Friday August 24th: Pittsburgh Pirates – BTF Equipment Day check presentation
Saturday August 25th: New York Mets – 2012 Equipment Day Collection at Citi Field
Fall Maintenance Checklist
|Perform soil and tissue tests|
|Aerate the field|
|De-thatch or verticut turf|
|Over-seed and top dress the field|
|Fertilize the field|
|Apply post-emergent herbicides|
|Add ground limestone every other year|
|Complete renovations or reconstruction projects if needed|
Last Saturday, August 11th, marked the fourth BTF/MLB Field Maintenance Education Clinic. This one was a group effort. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, SNY and the New York Mets partnered to make it a wonderfully successful event.
Youth baseball and softball organizations from the Tri-State area were invited to attend the private clinic lead by Mets head groundskeeper, Bill Deacon, and his entire crew. They arrived in small groups, the excitement radiating. Photos were snapped behind the microphone in the Mets media room, baseball hats were tried on and adjusted and pens hit notepads to ensure they worked before the clinic began. Just over 30 attendees participated in the clinic, taking part in 4 rotating stations that addressed topics such as; infield maintenance, mound and home plate management, game day preparation and turf management. It was a day dedicated to providing practical, easy to install tips and techniques that would aid in the long term maintenance of fields and provide the highest level of safety. BTF Executive Director, Cathy Bradley, stated, “We hope that this clinic, along with the grants awarded, will support the sustainability of safe and playable youth baseball and softball facilities in the area.”
BTF, along with SNY and their Play Ball initiative, awarded two $5,000 grants to the Dyker Heights Athletic Association and Elmjack Community Little League, to be used for field upkeep and the purcahse of needed field maintenance equipment.
There’s one remaining Field Maintenance Education Program scheduled for this season, and it’s taking place August 23rd in partnership with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Invest in a few key signs to help educate and encourage everyone to pitch in. The slideshow above contains a few helpful signs we’ve seen in facilities around the country.