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Ask Mandisa 14 – Writing Grants for Non-Profits


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/01/20

Mandisa Thomas is the Founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc (Twitter & Facebook). One of the, if not the, largest organization for African-American or black nonbelievers or atheists in America.

The organization is intended to give secular fellowship, provide nurturance and support for nonbelievers, encourage a sense of pride in irreligion, and promote charity in the non-religious community.

I reached out to begin an educational series with one of the, and again if not the, most prominent African-American woman nonbeliever grassroots activists in the United States. Here, we talk about grants for non-profits.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You went about filling some forms for grants, for financial assistance. How does this relate to the work of Black Nonbelievers, Inc.?

Mandisa Thomas: Yes, the grant is through the Soros Foundation. The name of the grant is the Soros Equality Fellowship, which is focused on racial justice. One of the members of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. forwarded the grant to me. She saw relevance to the organization, especially with racial justice and what we are fighting for within our demographic.

I previously considered applying for grants through the organization. It is possible, still, to do, but it has helped me with writing grants for the future. I will have some experience. Another member is a grant writer. She also helped with the project for me.

I am very appreciative for it.

Jacobsen: What are the difficulties that come along with completing a grant oriented either racial justice or secular activism?

Thomas: The writing tends to be one of the most daunting tasks. You must, first, look at the specifications on the application. You must make sure that you follow them to the letter. Also, it is important to look at the organization or foundation offering the grant.

It is making sure that what you are proposing is also what they are looking to fund. It is to make sure the language through the application fits the specifications and the directions. Even one small misstep could cause you to be rejected, it can be very time consuming and writing can be very daunting.

I think those are some of the challenges with it. It is the time commitment. It is also filling out the form and following the process properly.

Jacobsen: How does this detract from resources or other efforts of an organization such as yours?

Thomas: Of course, I would have to put some tasks to the side for the time being to focus on the grant. It is important to bear in mind. I have family and other responsibilities outside of the organization. I am completing this project at the same time.

It is trying to maximize my time to manage it correctly does play an important part. I tend to be a decent writer. Also, because I have had practice, it has helped with the grant writing process. I am having to multi-task, a bit better. I am having to prioritize what I do while I work on this project.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mandisa.

Thomas: Thank you!


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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