The Muse Writers Center and Give Local 757 Have Grown Together Over Four Years
Michael Khandelwal, Executive Director & Shawn Girvan, Program Associate
The Muse Writers Center
Tammy was nothing but encouraging to us. But, still we were relatively inexperienced using Facebook, and Executive Director, Michael Khandelwal had a lot on his plate running a growing organization. A few weeks before the event, Michael called Tammy “to ask her what to do,” and this has since become an annual phone call. She suggested, because of the late start, trying to win a pre-contest based on the number of likes our logo received on the foundation’s Facebook page. We ended up coming in third.
That little bit of encouragement gave us steam to try our best during the actual fundraiser, even though Michael was helping the City of Norfolk run an election that day. We ended up raising $3,000 from 48 donors. This was our most successful fundraiser to date, and we learned a lot.
Give Local 757 has taught us how to fundraise successfully. It’s taught us how to use Facebook successfully. And it’s reinforced the importance of growing and sustaining our community.
Fast forward four years and The Muse Writers Center is now one of the largest literary centers in the nation. We have a new facility that has allowed us to offer more than just great creative writing classes. We have three or four events a week that attract nearly 6,000 attendees a year. We have space for writers to meet, work, and network. And, of course, our educational offerings have expanded to more than 80 classes, seminars, and workshops offered in each of our three yearly sessions, attracting nearly 400 students per session.
Fundraising has become a big part of our daily work as well. We have now successfully applied for many grants from the city and state as well as private foundations—all vital to ensure we continue our mission and work. Grant writing, though mostly successful, isn’t the most fun part of the day for anyone who works in a nonprofit. There are limited agencies offering limited grants to a limited number of nonprofits. And most of the time, grant applications include pages of narrative information that has to be filled out up to 16 times. It’s tedious at best. Euphoria does come when we receive a positive response, but because the process leading up to that joy is often stressful and frustrating, most grant writers have never described his or her job as a “blast.”
But a “blast” is a great way to describe the Muse’s experience with Give Local 757. This year, especially. More on that in a moment.