Grants and the Cost of Toothpaste

We recently began filling out A LOT of grant paperwork.  It’s interesting, the information total strangers want to know about you before giving you their money.   Many of the forms, though long, are reasonable enough, and I can appreciate that most organizations are simply trying to be a good stewards of their funds.  Others, on the other hand, are complicated, and feel straight-up invasive.  At times, I have flashbacks of reading Thoreau’s Walden, where he listed every single, stinkin’ plank of wood in his home and denoted that each cost precisely ¼ of a cent.  [Did anyone else have to suffer through give a presentation on Walden in high school?  No, just me?  Also, I may not have actually finished it.  Moving on . . .]

One particular form we spent much energy obsessing over, wanted us to delineate how much money we spend each year on “personal care items.”

So, we had to have a conversation that went something like this:

DA:  This one wants to know how much we spend on “personal care items.”

Me:  You mean, like shampoo and soap and toilet paper?
DA:  I don’t know, I guess.  How do we figure that out?

Me:  OK, let’s tackle this methodically.  This should be simple.  Google how much a tube of toothpaste costs.  How many times a year do we actually buy it?  All we have to do is multiply.

DA:  I don’t know.

Me:  OK, how about [picking a random number] three times a year—or four?  Does that sound right?  Or does that sound like we don’t practice appropriate dental hygiene—we wouldn’t want anyone calling CPS, because they think we don’t make our kids brush.  Oh, the kids!  Should the final number include the children’s toothpaste in the upstairs bathroom cabinet?  We keep on hand a tube of Dora, a tube of Thomas, and there’s that dried up infant tube—the one with Little Bear on it.  But Yay was born in 2009, so that probably wasn’t bought during the 2011 fiscal year, right?

DA:  I don’t know.  Should we move on to soap, now?  Do we want to figure out hand soap, body wash, baby wash, or dishwasher tablets?

Me:  All right.  Whichever.  Are you writing all this down?

No one should have to have these conversations during Christmas break while trying to enjoy “Cheese Plate Dinner.”  No one.  [That reminds me, what is our current cracker budget?!  Excuse me while I freak out a bit . . .]

Somehow we managed to complete some of the forms as truthfully as we possibly could.  A few more are in the process of being finished.  In any case, in a couple of months, we should start hearing back from these grant organizations.  Please pray that they will be generous to us in their distribution of funds.  I’m hoping to update this blog soon with where we currently stand in our fundraising.

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