Lisa Johnson was the Founder of the highly publicized mentoring program, Bossed Up Academy in South Los Angeles. In the past 5 years, she’s been on the cover of every entrepreneurial magazine, been interviewed on every major network, and guest hosted on over 100 business podcasts. But as she pulls another late-nighter, writing yet another grant, she can’t help but feel frustrated.
She’d finally given in and scheduled a meeting with a high-priced grant writer in hopes of finally landing a grant. During the meeting, the grant writer provided Lisa with a rundown of her services: research funding opportunities, gather organization information, develop a competitive proposal, and submission to the funding agency. She recounted her success with similar organizations and assured her that with her fame and notoriety, she should yield similar, if not better, results.
Two weeks later, the grant writer contacted Lisa to let her know she had submitted the grant and, while there were no guarantees, the mentoring program had hit all the funding areas and therefore was in a good position to be funded.
Three months and $2,000 later, Lisa was informed that her program had not been funded. Frustrated, she met with a 30-year nonprofit veteran referred to her by a trusted friend. After hearing her story, the nonprofit consultant asked Lisa for a budget. Lisa said she didn’t have one. The consultant asked Lisa how many youths she had mentored since the organization’s inception. Lisa said she needed to check her records, but she thought around 500.
When asked, “What type of results the mentoring program had produced in the community?” Lisa said that meaningful relationships between the mentors and mentees had been formed, and many of them had been introduced to new professions and exposed to different social and recreational experiences as a result of the monthly outings sponsored by the organization.
The consultant also reviewed Lisa’s website. There were pictures of Lisa with celebrities and noted officials, receiving awards, and videos of her interviews, but no pictures of the mentees or the mentors delivering programs. There was a gallery of photos featuring Lisa and several mentees holding up certificates of participation, Lisa and mentees attending a variety of galas and events, and Lisa at the podium speaking.
The URL for the organization was .com— www.thementoringprogram.com—as was her email address: email@example.com. And her mailing address was a PO Box. There was no telephone number listed on the website. Also, there was no mention of any of her board members on the site.