the  m p w c Foundation,  inc. 

Correspondence
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This page may have posted to it, from time to time, replies (paragraphs) from us as to questions that require detailed explanations.   So, rather than for us to re-invent the wheel each time a Grantee (current or prospective) asks a question, we will reprint "extracts from" them here - the most recent questions and answers are on top.

The below was published on Mar 15 2012

Subject: Changes in the way we will (or will not) pay grants 

This foundations has existed since 2001 and the Founder has been giving donations since 1995. To date, we have given almost us$120,000 in grants and our current estimate of the Foundation's endowment after my death is now more than us$3,200,000. From the beginning, in addition to selecting organizations that have missions (and beneficiaries) that we want to support, we have also insisted upon the need for transparency and continuity. Transparency was virtually non-existent when we started thinking about it and now it is closing in on universal in San Miguel (even though this still requires improvement) Obviously, organizations realize that transparency helps THEM with its benefits in managing their own organizations, with full disclosure to potential and current contributors, with required reports to IRS and other bureaucracies, and with just about all of your other constituents including your own current and future volunteers and your own beneficiaries.

Continuity, on the other hand, while even more beneficial to each organization, is not nearly universal, probably closer to the opposite extreme. If an organization does not yet realize that in this community, their volunteers (and others) will die, will move away, will change interests, and in other ways will leave their volunteer jobs behind, then that organization does not know how to plan for the future and will hit major and minor bumps in the road quite often. Once again, we suggest you read our entire webpage on this subject http://www.mpwcf.org/continuity.htm

But, enough about the past. What about the future?.

We have warned you for years about the need for continuity and for transparency and we constantly attempted to make it easier and easier for you to respond on a yearly basis. And we warned you that we did not have infinite patience waiting for you to comply (basically for two reasons - we felt it was your responsibility to benefit your organization, and, secondly, my health was rapidly failing and I could no longer do all of the work that had been, and still continues to be, required of me in both reviewing your annual input and processing ideas on how to make it easier for you without destroying the raison d'etre for each input. So now, all excess time for both me and your organization has elapsed.

I was not able to (for both physical and emotional reasons) to review your input that was due on (1st) October 31, 2011, (2nd) on January 15, 2012, and (3rd) on January 31, 2012. The first problem I had with my being able to review all of this was due to the emotional scars that remained from years of receiving such bad input from so many of you, followed by the new fact that NONE OF YOU met all of the "due dates" that were specifically laid out years in advance and that with even a modicum of continuity, you could have started to comply with months in advance of the due dates and then met the due dates. NONE OF YOU!!!!! As a result, two members (your prime respondent and a backup) from each of your organizations were sent an email from me dated February 14, 2012 explaining Why "due dates" are critically important to both you and us and What we have decided to do from now on. What the latter promised was "no more leeway" on meeting due dates. However, as explained above, there were two reasons for the lack of our review this year. Although I warned you many times in the past that this was coming, it finally arrived this year. I can no longer do this by myself.

My first thought was to train a replacement for me to take my place in the future, and this idea was put into practice. But this assumed that you would all get better and better in your parts of providing the annual input. And that did not happen. So now, I make the following additional change in our practice.

You are now being given two options, either of which you may choose. But you will be held to fulfill your part in this based upon your choice. I will not be able to process any further changes that you wish to make after you make this choice. We will consider your response as your acceptance of this new contract between us.

option #1 - you may receive your grant this year (meaning between now and June 30th) amounting to the same amount as you were paid the last time you got a grant (presumably, about a year ago, but maybe two years ago). We still will not review your recent input and this will mean that you are irrevocably opting out of our program, no chance to ever return, no chance to ever get your share of our us$3,200,000 or more endowment whenever I die and my replacement takes over. Just tell us (within one month from today) that you are taking option #1 and send us both an email to that effect AND a paper copy of it stating the same thing and be sure that the paper is physically-hand-signed by your President (or CEO) and the Treasurer and one other principal. And we wish you well and say goodbye.

option #2 - you will do what used to be my review (instead of me doing it) and prepare the resultant comments letter yourself. Sounds easy, but I assure you it is not. Normally, I review all input and send you two comments letters each year. The first letter normally comments on any problems that must be fixed within a month from then and before you get your grant (this letter will not be necessary this year as you yourself will get to fix any problems you find yourself - as described in my thoughts that follow for the second letter). The second letter usually pointed out other problems that we saw and asked you to either fix them for next year or (only if absolutely impossible to do) explain in detail why you could not fix them. This year, since I am no longer willing to do this review myself, you are to do the review (both for things that CAN still be fixed this year and things that you promise to fix for next year). What can be fixed this year, must be fixed before re-submitting all input for my follow-up review this year But since continuity is part of your problem, I strongly (!!!!!) suggest that you have more than one person (the original prime person should not do any of this since he or she would be merely reviewing his or her own work) do the work so that you get a critical (and I mean "critical!!") analysis of what you've done both right and wrong in the past and this year. And be definitely sure that the "Continuity" paper gets the most attention and is most complete of all. ( Once you've done all of this (and it all must be submitted within three months of today), submit your entire 3-part (properly labeled in accordance with our web-site "templates" for each of the 3 due dates) input (as now revised by you for 2012) once again AND your now internally written 2012 "comments" letter (this replaces what I used to send to you - now you send your "almost perfect" review letter to me for MY review of everything). I will review your input and your comments letter and if I think you've made a real and complete effort as well as a great improvement over the (yup, this is the only word that describes it) crap you've sent me in the past, I will accept your comments letter (and possibly add a few comments of my own, not too many or that will tell me you've not done your part in this completely) and expect you to put into practice next year what either of us commented upon this year. Just tell us (within one month from today) that you are taking option #2 and send us both an email to that effect AND a paper copy of it stating the same thing and be sure that the paper is physically-hand-signed by your President (or CEO) and the Treasurer and one other principal. In this case, just as in option #1 too, you'll be getting this year's grant (even though it will be in advance of your new and revised input and comments letter for grant year 2012). Of course, in the future, we will also expect your input for grant year 2013 (all due ON TIME at 10/31/12, 1/15/13, and 1/31/13). 2014, 2015, etc. to be as good as the revised 2012 input (which is now due from you within 3 months from today) and to incorporate all comments made by either us or yourselves each year into each following year's input. As suggested on the Templates, you can start by using our Templates (of questions, etc.) and use your prior year's answers as a "starting point" to be edited to suit the even better answers that you will give in each succeeding year. All of this means that we will then again expect you to do the review of 2013 in much the same way as we described above for 2012 except that this 2013 review will be done and submitted to us based upon each due date (10/31/12, 1/15/13, and 1/31/13) and submitted to us at the same time each input was due. A similar or identical process will be expected for each succeeding year. In few (or any) other ways has anything else changed, except as noted in Note #3 below. The main change here should create a "shove in the right direction" for you to have both personnel and document backups for any job in both the input to us AND any other job within your organization. Remember, people are not forever static. San Miguel organizations have HIGH and unexpected personnel turnover . Again, I suggest you re-read http://www.mpwcf.org/continuity.htm and use your creativity and imagination to implement the ideas expressed on that page that aid your organization. This also means that your input is to be much more accurate and complete than in prior years. I will continue to do a spot-check type of review but my review will have to take both less time and be more critical of the problems I do find (see following paragraph). After all, you've all had many (too many) years to get up to speed on all of this.

Starting with the new 2012 input (and each year thereafter), your input (and your own internal review as well) will be graded on a very strict point system for your (on time, detailed, complete, and transparent as well as continuity-wise) answer to every question asked and you will get points for your answers (I am not even sure that I will have – or take – the time to tell you what points you are getting or why you did or did not do well). I’m obviously quite fed up with all or at least most of you and I could be quite satisfied to admit I failed in bringing Transparency and Continuity to SMA. As a result of my failure, the default USA organizations (the American Civil Liberties Union and/or Rider University) will get (I will choose one of the following: all, a large portion, a small portion, or none of) what would otherwise be your organization's allocation of SMA’s share of the us$3,200,000 or more Foundation endowment. I have to confess that I have been pushed by some of you to the point where I really don’t care that much anymore. You’ve driven me to this stand. Cumulatively, you’ve all received almost us$125,000 from me already, and I'm embarrassed that that has not aided in accomplishing what I hoped to accomplish. I am hardly sure that the future looks better but that is now completely up to each of you. If I continue to sense that you, too, don't care, than why should I?

Note #3 - If you opt for option #2 and things go well, meaning that you constantly improve your input, your transparency, and most definitely your organization-wide continuity, and your initial reviews and our follow-up reviews continue to show you know what you're doing and your backup people know what they are expected to do (or are doing), you will proceed along the same path as we all expected you to proceed in the years just prior to this year. However, since our ability to review is now limited to assessing the entire critical nature of your own reviews, we will give you a bonus for doing this well. Instead of our holding the endowment forever and giving each grantee their proportional share of each future year's income, we will transfer that portion of the endowment allocated to you and you will receive the income from this endowment as well. In addition, you will be able to spend more of your own previous endowment money (whenever you choose) as this endowment that we give you will be restricted from your use except for the income received from it (this is the same as you would have received under previous plans except that you HOLD the endowment, we don't). Within 2 or 3 years after I die, and based upon how well you have improved your annual input (prior to my death) and made it a normal ongoing process within your organization (after my death), this Foundation will have determined how much of the us$3,200,000 (or whatever it is at that time, probably higher) MPWCF endowment goes to you and how much goes to others - including USA default organizations - and then the MPWCF will dissolve forever. Continuity is a concern of ours as well and, under current circumstances, our decision is to complete our work within 2 to 3 years after the Founder's death, which is the main (or only) change from our previous plan to be perpetual. But we will expect you to continue with transparency and continuity in your own organizations under controls that were set up (and in effect for some years now) prior to this change of who holds the endowment.

A note regarding input. Unless you KNOW that we would have no comments nor wish to edit anything regarding any document you send, send us documents using ONLY .doc (not .docx) or .xls (not .xlsx) formats. You may send input using .pdf or .jpg formats but ONLY if they are copies of what you sent to (for example) governmental organizations, like a copy of your form 990ez or a picture of something, but ONLY if we asked for that copy. Otherwise do not send us anything that we did not specifically ask for. The norm must be a .doc or a .xls format.

If you have any questions, ask them via email as soon as possible (you, not I, are responsible for the right responses; not understanding the purpose of or the question itself, means you will have the wrong response; ask NOW), as time is running out on the three months you have to take option #2 and note #3. And one other reminder (to those of you where this applies), stop answering questions like you are just trying to mollify me; if you don't answer completely, it is not answered). And stop referring me to other places that you (or I) will have to go to when the response should be where the question was asked. (Why do you suppose I finally decided on "templates"?) Finally, if you opt for #1, please tell us as soon as possible.

The below was published on Feb 14 2012

Subject: due dates for your annual input to the MPWCF

Why "due dates" are critically important to both you and us - we spent years developing and then refining our requirements and we found that certain requirements should best be met at varying times of each year. This spreads out the year's work for both of us. There are many parts of the requirements that should be considered by your organization and that can get accomplished better by starting earlier in each grant year (i.e., the due dates are "DUE dates", not "get ready to START dates"). And we, too, have to have a definitive scheduling of our time so that time set aside for our review does not have to be changed year after year due to some grantee missing any one due date. In addition, by getting each grantee's requirements met at the same due date, we can compare one grantee against another and discover common problems. Then we can help you address the problem. And lastly, by comparing your input to other's input, we can slowly evolve our own opinions of how well you are meeting our requirements (which, ultimately, ends up effecting the final allocation of our endowment apportioned to your organization).

What we have decided to do from now on (after June 2012). We will continue to slightly amend our webpages each year as a result of our review of the input that we receive from you. We will continue to expect that you will supply us with the information required at each of the three due dates (see links below) and that your input will continue to evolve based upon our two "comments" letters each year, most especially in the areas of "Continuity" and "Transparency". The only change we are now making is that there is NO MORE LEEWAY in input due on each "due date". The now non-negotiable due date is such an elementary part of the process towards Continuity that we don't see how you can ignore it. You know that people die, people get sick, people get temporarily unavailable, people move, and people change their work responsibilities. Therefore Continuity DEMANDS that for each task performed, in ANY part of your organization, there be some backup plan (any combination of documentation of personnel training with backup persons, backup files, records, documents, web-sites, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.) so that anything anyone does in your entire organization has a trained replacement for any conceivable eventuality. No more leeway means that if a Due Date is missed, your late input will not be read in time and no grant will be given that year. The information will nonetheless still be due and it will be reviewed (at some future date when time is next available to us) to ascertain your progress nonetheless. If the progress has retrogressed in any significant way (and this is true whether the input was received on time or was late), it will be evaluated accordingly. You will still be expected to meet the following year's due dates in order to continue in our program and to be considered for the vastly larger grants made after the Founder dies. I have written many of you many times in the past that time was running out (for both of us) and time continues to run out even more so every day.

For your reference, we list certain URLs (links) to specific pages on our web-site. Please be aware that these are the pages that are most important and apply most to the "due date" problem. However, all website pages (and all links to all other pages) are useful and necessary reading, just lesser so than these below.

http://www.mpwcf.org/site_map.htm     site map for MPWCF  (use as our "home page")
http://www.mpwcf.org/calendar.htm    Calendar   the MPWCF calendar for your and our deadlines 
http://www.mpwcf.org/checklist_(summary).htm   Checklist (summary)   starting point for use as a checklist to meet requirements
http://www.mpwcf.org/templates.htm    templates   use to submit all emails and attachments to meet MPWCF requirements
http://www.mpwcf.org/due_oct_31st.htm     due Oct 31st   start preparing parts of this NOW and submit before the due date
http://www.mpwcf.org/due-Nov1-Jan15.htm      due Nov1-Jan15   start preparing parts of this NOW and submit before the due date
http://www.mpwcf.org/due-Jan31.htm       due Jan 31st  start preparing parts of this NOW and submit before the due date
http://www.mpwcf.org/and_next.htm      and next   (what to expect after January 31st)
http://www.mpwcf.org/continuity.htm      continuity    a discussion and definition on this subject
http://www.mpwcf.org/transparency.htm      transparency   a discussion and definition on this subject
http://www.mpwcf.org/finls-example.htm      financials-example a format for you to use in your Financial Statements
http://www.mpwcf.org/disclosures.htm     Disclosures (and Notes to the Financial Statements)
http://www.mpwcf.org/require-2.htm        ongoing requirements after the first year
http://www.mpwcf.org/some_details.htm     some details especially "how to reply to us"
http://www.mpwcf.org/correspondence.htm        Correspondence  some late questions and answers
http://www.mpwcf.org/subsequent_changes.htm      subsequent changes after the Founder has died

The below was published prior to 2011

 ...Although each of the "due (dates)" are critically important for all grantees to meet (because, if we DO NOT receive all input from ALL grantees at the SAME TIME, we are forced to review the ones that do not meet our deadlines out of our normal efficient zone for review.   That costs us time that we can not spare AND it costs the grantee a tougher and more critical review (so, you, too, lose by your laxity).  Too many times, it is apparent that the work itself was done at the last minute and this, too, will later require more additional work by the grantee AS our review will again be tougher.  The correct and proper method in every case is to make sure that your work is documented in a written procedure (continuity!!!!!!!) and updated and amended each year for changes that are either new or recently thought about.  What this really suggests is that all work should be started way in advance, not at the last minute.  Each "due (date)"  has many parts, some of which can be done well before the due date.   We strongly suggest that ignoring these principles will COST you more than it costs us.  Ignore it at your own future risk...

...We have asked repeatedly for questions (submitted well before December 31st each year) from you whenever you do not understand something.  Those who do not ask, now five or more years into the program, have no excuses for not complying completely with our requirements...

... as part of overall organizational continuity ... be sure that YOUR own position and all of its processes and its relationship with this Foundation has been documented so that next year NOTHING that we have had to discuss, criticize, and/or correct this year has to be repeated, other than for changes in circumstances (and even those should have been at least semi-solved by prior discussions now documented for future readers)...

...If you think you MUST physically talk to me, my first choice is to use Skype (free software from skype.com) and second would be local landline. I have no truck wit dem nu-fangled tings call celfones. I am usually available between 8:45am and 11:00am to START a phone call and again between 2:15pm and 3:30pm seven days a week. But I ask that you have your browser open to the page that you want to discuss and your thoughts in order. I don't have enough oxygen to breathe, balance a phone, look at my browser, etc., for long periods of time...

...as far as the Due Oct 31, AND/OR the Due Jan 31 responses are concerned, if you ever even attempted to figure out what continuity actually means, you would have used what was acceptable from prior years and read, reviewed, and then updated everything by correcting, adding, deleting, amending, adjusting, re-focusing, re-evaluating, etc, but do not reinvent the wheel when so much of what you've done before can be re-applied (INCLUDING changes for our comments thereon made in the past). That is part of continuity. Don't exclude the past from the present. Have you ever taken a course called "History"? Learn and use. This is when continuity gets translated into WRITTEN words that can TEACH and EDUCATE your volunteers. Surely it doesn't take a college professor to have some inkling of the value of teaching and education...

The below was published prior to 2008

...I have earned my fortune in management consulting. I have successfully consulted professionally for organizations larger and smaller than yours. The only new factor is that you have an unpaid volunteer organization drawn from a small and ever changing available population. That IS a problem. But I have known that to be the case for all of SMA organizations since I first pondered it back in 1996, well before there was a MPWCF, and our grant process was designed by me to acknowledge the differences between SMA and the rest of the world. Hence there is no (and never was a) need for an experienced grant writer. The questions we ask and the responses we are looking for relate ONLY to SMA organizations, not those one might find apply to other places...

... as we have spent countless hours over many years creating this web-site and more time updating it whenever necessary, we encourage any grantee to have spent some time reading and understanding it, because (now in our own maturity)  we no longer have the time to  "re-invent the wheel" with each new volunteer at each individual grantee and what those new volunteers think are their own unique questions...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Underpromise and Overdeliver”

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