Change as a Fact of Life Editorial

2002 by Rich Avanzino


We occasionally hear from grant writers who wonder about our "ever-changing" guidelines.

Our grant guidelines do change with some regularity but we don't change them to bedevil people. Maddie's Fund is trying a very non-traditional approach to grant giving. And with only three years under our belt, our grant guidelines are based as much on principles and goals as they are on experience. As the principles are put into practice in a wide variety of diverse locations, new information is learned from our funded projects and we get a better handle on what is needed. We then modify our guidelines accordingly.

For example, most people in the animal welfare movement believe the key to ending pet overpopulation is spay/neuter. Groups who apply for Maddie's Fund grants are eager to get funding to perform as many surgeries as possible. As a result, we initially established goals and funding that called for ten spay/neuter surgeries for each adoption paid for by Maddie's Fund. However, our funded projects experienced difficulty in achieving this objective and asked us to modify the guidelines. The goal is now five to one.

We also make changes when we see the need for more clarity. For example, one of our goals is to help organizations become more economically self-sufficient. But we came to realize that just stating the goal didn't provide enough detail about what was intended. So we added a new guideline urging funded projects to raise additional funds equal to 10% of the first year's Maddie's Fund grant (increasing each year of the grant) using a modest portion of the Maddie grant to accomplish this purpose.

Similarly, we have always advocated collaboration with private practice veterinarians but again, there wasn't enough information in our guidelines to illustrate what that meant. Our guidelines now ask that private veterinary hospitals perform 65% of the spay/neuter surgeries funded by our grants.

One good thing about our changes - they work to the advantage of the grantee. A perfect example: recognizing the time consuming nature of our record-keeping and reporting requirements, we added an additional 7% of the total grant amount to each grant specifically to pay for this all-important administrative task.

The fact is, as we continue to gather information, our guidelines will continue to change. But in today's world, change is the norm, not the exception.

Think about the stock market, credit card interest rates, cellular phone plans and airline fares. They all change, practically from day to day. We just have to stay on top it.

It's pretty easy to keep up with Maddie's Fund changes. Just check out our Grant Giving section.


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