Participant announcement


Join three local nonprofits as they share how they approach grant writing. Each participant will talk briefly about their grant writing. After that introduction, Ara Beal will moderate a discussion between the participants. The morning will end with an open Q&A.

Participating organizations
Tecumseh Land Trust
Yellow Springs Senior Center
Home, Inc.

Tue, June 4, 2019
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Yellow Springs Senior Citizens
227 Xenia Avenue
Yellow Springs, OH 45387

Reserve your spot on Eventbrite now.

RSVP on Facebook.


One month at a time

You can now enroll in a Storybook Workshop with a monthly schedule.

For just $10/mo, you’ll receive one new template and instructions every 30 days. This plan allows you to spread out the payment and the time commitment in completing and implementing you Storybook.

You can cancel at any time, and will retain all materials you’ve downloaded. So give us a try for the cost of your Netflix subscription and see what Storybook Foundry can do for you!

Enroll here:

Ara Beal
WEBINAR registration opens!

On Thursday, June 6, 2019, at 2 pm (Eastern) join us for a 90 minute webinar to learn about how smart branding can strengthen your grant applications.

Participants will complete a Words to Avoid template and a In Their Own Words template as part of the webinar.

You can register for the webinar today, or sign up to receive a reminder email to sign up later!

Learn more here.

Hope to see you there!

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Ara Beal
Grant Writing Roundtable Announced--Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Save the Date!

Join three local nonprofits as they share how they approach grant writing. Each participant will talk briefly about their grant writing. After that introduction, Ara Beal will moderate a discussion between the participants. The morning will end with an open Q&A.

We’ll announce participating organizations in the next few weeks.

Tue, June 4, 2019
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Yellow Springs Senior Citizens
227 Xenia Avenue
Yellow Springs, OH 45387

Reserve your spot on Eventbrite now.

RSVP on Facebook.

New Online Workshop Announced!

Join other nonprofit and small business professionals for a six week online workshop to create your organization’s Storybook! We’ll work to support each other through the process.

Starts March 15, 2019 with new content released each Friday, and last pieces released on April 19th.

However, you’ll have access to the material FOREVER, so if something comes up during the six weeks, no biggie! You can catch up later.

For one payment of $225 or two payments of $120, you’ll get:

1 Storybook full template valued at $107.97
10 templates in individual format valued at $199.70
Two hours of one on one consultation valued at $150


moderation of the workshop in real time by a member of our staff
and access to our users Facebook group to further build your community and network

That’s more than $457.67 worth of tools and services for only $225!

Click here to sign up!

Click here to sign up!

Kitchen Gadgets and Hair Care

Last week, we shared a story about how rejection can clarify your brand integrity.  (If you missed it, you can read it here).  We got lots of nice feedback on the piece, including

[This story] spoke to me, as the sole independent contractor at a very small nonprofit, very specifically. I feel like our size of nonprofit is incredibly overlooked. Us scrappy part-time/strictly-volunteer organizers that are used to googling our ways to solutions that larger orgs would hire someone to do.

--Katie Myers, Center Stage Jackson.  

We loved to hear we’re supporting our friends in their important work, but we owe a bigger thanks for a single word that Katie used earlier in her email.

She referred to our tools.  And, we’ve been saying products.  
And her word is soooooo much better.

Here at Storybook Foundry we enjoy semantics, so we are going to indulge in a short journey into the words tool and product.  (If you aren’t into the philosophy of words, you can skip to the end. We won’t be offended.)

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When thinking of the word product, a couple things come to mind.  
Hair and skin care products—particularly hair gel and mousse.  
Also, mathematics. Product is another way to talk about multiplication.

Do math and hair styling relate to what Storybook Foundry is attempting?  

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Well, the idea of multiplying is good. We like the idea that our clients take what we have and take what they have and multiply them together into something much greater.  

But hair styling?  That doesn’t sit so well, because styling is just temporary.  It’s not long lasting change or improvement.

If we think about products in a business sense, often they are things you buy and then use as they are.  They are static and finished things. Products are the end result of a process, not part of one.

what does the word tool bring to mind?  

Seems we have to acknowledge that ‘tool’ is sometimes used to refer to jerks.  But that’s not the most common way it’s used in the business world. So, we acknowledge it and move on.

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Tools are things that make accomplishing something much, much easier.  Our founder, Ara, does a lot of baking, but without all the fancy tools--like mixers, pastry cutters, or even specialized pans. Things work out, but mixing bread dough by hand takes a lot longer (and a lot more tired muscles) than using an electric mixer and dough hooks.

We’ve all had to ‘Macgyver’ things and make do without the right tools.  But we also all know how much easier it is with them. Ever use a pneumatic ratchet instead of taking your lug nuts off by hand?  

But tools also don’t have to be complicated.  We often overlook the simplest tools we use every day.  A pencil is a tool. So is a broom and a comb.

Katie is right.  We’ve made tools.

We’ve created templates that are simple to use, allowing nonprofits and small businesses accomplish larger projects.  They aren’t a product because they aren’t static. And even after an organization has completed them, they shouldn't get put on the shelf.  They go on to get folded into larger projects and used over and over again.

(We tried to figure out where we even got the word ‘product.’  Best we can sort, it’s because that’s the word that Squarespace uses to describe things you sell. And we failed to take our own advice and think about our words.)

Thanks to Katie for helping us figure out another word that’s one to avoid.  And providing a great example for us to use to share the process of identifying and thinking through Words to Avoid and Words to Use Instead.  

Our clients are:
scrappy parttime.png

Thanks to Katie Meyers for helping us identify our ideal client: Scrappy part-time/strictly-volunteer organizers that are used to googling their way to solutions. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

newsAra BealComment
What you aren't is part of who you are

When we were in the early stages of putting together Storybook Foundry, I met with everyone I could think of to get feedback from those who might use our products and services.  I got great feedback: “that’s so needed” was a phrase I heard over and over.

Then, I had coffee with someone who now is a VP of a multimillion dollar nonprofit.  He brings varied experiences to his current position and is one of those ‘gets things done’ people.  I was excited to hear his ideas about markets, efforts, and products that I hadn’t dreamed up yet.

But that’s not how the conversation went.  

I explained what the Storybook was--a collection of templates that were easy to use that allowed nonprofits to get everyone on the same ‘page.’  That unlike other consulting, there was an option for nonprofit leaders to do the majority of the heavy lifting themselves.

His response:  “I’d just pay a marketing firm a couple thousand dollars to do that.  I don’t have the time or interest in doing it myself.”

While I’m sure he meant to be helpful, it about killed me to hear that.  

Because I heard, “This idea is crap.  No one is going to want it.”

It didn’t help that at this moment in the process, we had hit other roadblocks and it felt like the business would never get off the ground. I’ll be honest, we almost threw in the towel.

But now this conversation is an important part of the Storybook Foundry story.  A turning point, even. This moment of criticism has become a sentiment that has helped Storybook Foundry hone its mission.

The reply to “I would just hire a marketing firm for a couple thousand dollars” is:

“You’re right.  YOU would do that.  But there are so many organizations out there that are running on shoe strings.  Organizations with only several part time staff, that rely on board members to write press releases and annual appeals because they don’t have a marketing or development department.  And there aren’t nearly enough things out there to help these scrappy nonprofits compete with organizations that have more at their disposal. And THAT is where Storybook Foundry comes in.”

I now know I was talking to the wrong audience.  Our clients aren’t multimillion dollar organizations.  Our clients are organizations with $50,000-$250,000 budgets.  Our clients are nonprofits that are scraping together $2,000 for a development consultant that want to get the most out of their investment.  Our clients are those who don’t have a marketing firm on retainer.

I now know that what felt like a blow was actually an affirmation we were on the right track.  

What have you learned your organization isn't and how has that helped you define what you are? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you haven’t thought much about it, give our Words to Avoid template process a try.

Just Pretty Isn't Enough

I learned almost everything I know about nonprofit management, marketing, and design by doing it.  And by doing it, I mean screwing it up and having someone tell me. And then doing it better next time.  

Like the time we sent an appeal letter that was just signed “The board of X.”  I know! Cringe worthy, right? Just one of the times I had someone kindly point out mistakes that made me better at what I do.  

But today’s lesson-learned-the-hard-way story is about emails.

Right after I started my first nonprofit job, I was so excited to send my first email to our email list.  I was just an associate, but was promoting a program I was working on. I was given the log on information for our Constant Contact account.  So, I logged on and figured out how to format an email. I thought it looked pretty nice. It had a nice blue/yellow color scheme, a nice picture, and clear text.  So out it went.

I think the email even had a pretty good open and click rate.  “Success!” I thought.

The company’s marketing and design contractor had a different opinion.  This particular contractor would often tell us we should have him do things or run things by him before sending, printing, etc.  And to some extent he was right. His stuff looked better than our stuff. But there wasn’t always money or time for that.

But he was right on this one.

“Who sent this email out?” he asked next time we all met.  I said I did. He, with some frustration, asked, “Where did you get those colors?  Why doesn’t it have a logo on it? And what the hell is up with this font?”*

Not the kindest of feedback, but when I looked at the email again, I knew he was right.  Nothing besides the “from” email address said that email was ours.

Even though it looked pretty great by itself.

Pretty is not enough.

I learned my lesson the hard way.  And helped that company create templates in Constant Contact that had our logo and colors so it’d be easier to be consistent moving forward, no matter who was creating emails.

Now, I have a Brand Quick Reference that has all my colors, fonts, and logos in one document.  And I have that saved multiple places so it’s always quick to open.  Plus printed copies that travel in my planner and are posted by my desk.  If I had been provided with such a document all those years ago, that first email would have looked a lot better.  Which is exactly why I created the Storybook Foundry, to help your those on your team avoid those missteps and keep your organization looking professional and consistent.

What lessons have you learned the hard way?  What one page piece would you create to help others from making the same mistake?

New Nonprofit FREEbie

Starting a new nonprofit is a lot of work! To help young nonprofits celebrate achieving 501(c)3 status, we'll send you a code for our Mission, Vision, and Elevator Statements page for FREE! Just send us a copy of our 501(c)3 letter that's dated sometime after June 1, 2018 and we'll send you the code. 

Simply email a copy of your letter to and we’ll send you a code. You can black out information besides the date and the organization name, if you’d like. But we promise we’ll respect your privacy!

🎂 Welcome to the nonprofit community!