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Storytelling the key to success for The Grant Advantage

IMG_7956If Alice Ruhnke had to pick one word to describe the essence of her small business, the choice would be simple: storytelling.

Not to be confused with the fictional form of writing, The Grant Advantage assists nonprofit organizations working to make real change in their communities by identifying an organization’s strengths, clarifying its goals and effectively telling its story in the form of grant writing.

Since 2006, The Grant Advantage has raised over $5 million from federal, state, corporate and foundation sources to help nonprofit organizations working in West Virginia and surrounding states have a greater impact on the communities they serve.

In addition to grant writing, The Grant Advantage assists clients by locating funding sources, developing programs, completing qualitative evaluations and much more.

During the business’ initial years of operation, Ruhnke ran the business from her home in Charleston.

“Really ever since I started, there’s been work out there to do, but it wasn’t until I worked with Terry Cyfers at the Small Business Development Center that I considered expanding,” she said.

After learning about the Charleston Area Alliance’s small business incubator program, which provides small start-ups affordable office space, Ruhnke began the expansion process.

With the help of Mike Aeiker, vice president of real estate service for the Charleston Area Alliance, The Grant Advantage moved to an office on the fourth floor of the Alliance building located on Smith Street in September 2013.

“I think this has really increased my profile,” Ruhnke said. “I’ve actually gotten one client simply because they walked by. I feel like I’m a little more productive. It separates my work from my home and helps it to look and feel like a real business.”

Ruhnke was also able to hire a second employee, Elizabeth Hardy, to assist with grant writing and project development. With the added help, Ruhnke has been able to expand The Grant Advantage’s services.

After completing lengthy trainings, Ruhnke recently added the service of appreciative inquiry facilitation, which helps organizations manage the process of change. Ruhnke explained that the method seeks out the best of “what is” in an organization to help ignite the collective imagination of “what might be,” rather than focusing on the negative side of an organization’s situation.

In addition to helping organizations manage and achieve positive change and develop new programs, Ruhnke said she’s happy that The Grant Advantage can help organizations of all sizes secure funding sources.

“The little guys are really important to me. Being able to work and keep my prices at a place where a little, new nonprofit can afford my services is very important,” she said.

With over 15 years of experience in the field, Ruhnke said she doesn’t plan on leaving the field of grant writing, or storytelling, any time soon.

“I always wanted to be a grant writer. I started this because I love the work,” Ruhnke said. “What I have is a dream.”

Since 1986, the Charleston Area Alliance has supported local entrepreneurs and small start-ups in the Kanawha Valley region by providing affordable office and warehouse work locations, along with the guidance, consulting and office amenities needed to ensure success.

Click HERE to learn more about the program.

To learn more about The Grant Advantage and the services it provides, visit www.thegrantadvantage.net or call 304-400-4894.

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admin in Announcements,In the News on November 20 2014 » 0 comments
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