An Interview with Dana Beck

The person I chose to interview is Dana Beck, co-founder of a non-profit organization called North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter (NCISN). The mission of NCISN ( is not only to provide low-cost spay/neuter services to local residents, but also to provide low-cost vaccinations for their cats and dogs. It is a no-kill shelter based in Battle Ground, IN and is housed by Crystal Creek Kennels; its owners, Nita Pollock and Bernie Wulle generously donated the shelter space. Dogs and cats alike come from people who can no longer care for them, overflowing animal shelters around the state, rescued animals from abusive situations, and strays that are brought in by individuals or by Tippecanoe County Animal Control. The animals’ food, care, and anything else they need (bowls, blankets, etc.) is provided almost exclusively by donations from individuals and local groups. All work, including cleaning, feeding, and transportation, is done by volunteers. Volunteers also are charged with running the local adopt-a-thons. Obviously, the medical care is done by local veterinarians; a group of veterinarians from Bloomington also comes to town to transport animals to their clinic for treatment. These veterinarians provide high-quality, low-cost care to encourage individuals to do their part in reducing dog and cat overpopulation.

In addition to the significant time she spends at NCISN, Dana also works at Purdue in the admissions office. One of the things she does at NCISN is the grant writing and fundraising. She has been doing these jobs for about a year; prior to that, she was primarily involved in advertising, coordinating volunteers, and all-around support. The role of grant writer is an integral one for any non-profit organization. Time is spent researching groups that provide funding, figuring out which groups support organizations such as the one where he grant writer works, and then writing the proposals to present one’s case to those who do the funding. Grant writing is very time consuming and requires diligence to find the right sources of funding. Before any work can be done to obtain grants, the non-profit organization must have a clear idea of its goals, its needs, and costs that it incurs. That’s another area where Dana Beck comes in. As the co-founder and one who works many hours at NCISN, she is aware of what occurs at the shelter on a daily basis and knows better than anyone how much everything costs.

My interview with Dana is scheduled for 11:30 on Wednesday, April 2, 2008. Because we are meeting during her lunch hour, we have rather limited time for the interview. I’ll most likely have to follow up with some questions via e-mail. This is the current set-up for the interview:

The interview begins with introductions, followed by thanking Dana for taking to share her experiences and knowledge about grant writing. A reminder of the interview’s purpose serves to clarify that not only is she helping to teach us about grant writing, but also she is helping to emphasize the importance of her work and how valuable grants are to non-profits. Since we are meeting during her lunch break—and because she is doing me a great favor—I feel it is appropriate that I should offer to pay for her lunch. Offering to pick up something on the way to campus is also an option; that way, we are able to meet in a quiet area to talk while having lunch.

1: Dana, I understand that you’re one of the co-founders of NCISN. How long has it been in operation?

2: How did you get the idea for North Central Indiana Spay/Neuter?

3: Do you spend a lot of time with the animals, or is most of your time spent “behind the scenes,” so to speak?

4: You do a large part of the fundraising, which includes writing grants. How did you learn to do this?

5: Could you go through the main steps of the process? (This question should give me a lot of information.)

6: How do you find groups that having funding for organizations like this one? Basically, how do you know where to look and find out that they have the money?”

7: Is there a set format or structure that you use to write a grant proposal? (i.e., Is there certain information that’s always included in a proposal?) If not, how do you structure them?

8: Can you tell me about a recent grant proposal that was successful?

9: How much funding resulted from it?

10: How are you putting those funds to use?

11: Are the grants you get usually for specific things (e.g., paying the vets who do the spay/neuter services; shelter and food for animals), or are they generally ones that you can apply as needed for the NCISN?

12: The work you do—both as an individual and as an organization—is so important in this community. Is there anything you want my classmates to know about North Central Indiana Spay/Neuter?

(Here is where I thank Dana again.)