Saturday, March 30, 2013

Starting a Farm, Community Blessings, & God's Training Business

So, we set out on starting a farm.

Well, not exactly that simply, and not exactly that way.

Marissa and I have been on the path to sustainability for some time. We have explored our lives here in the U.S., launching a life of mission. We took our new skills and knowledge of building homes out of recycled materials to the island of Hispaniola. We explored if we could help there and we found that we could.

You see, this last week, it was confirmed by our friends, Sadrac and Leenn Innocent, that we could obtain at least 12 acres in Haiti around Sadrac's village, north of Port-au-Prince. The mayor affirmed her commitment to us being there and will give us clear title to the land. This is huge for us and the first major step of a life of builsing sustainable living solutions for the poor.

Sadrac & Leeann working
at Monkey Jungle
 in Sosua, Dominican Republic.
In short, the homes we build:

  • Provide water for those that lack clean water,
  • Provide food for the starving and hungry,
  • Provide solid shelter for the homeless, and
  • Clean waste on site for the cholera-ridden.

We love this solution. It is simple. It hits the major areas of poverty with one solution. It leverages donor dollars and actually solves poverty with one action.

So, Marissa and I returned to the U.S. to build up the State-side part of our organization, PhilanTropics Foundation. We returned to a renewed vigor for our cause and refreshing thing we did not expect; an active community and desirous team.

You see, we connected with Nate and Ida Mundell who were thrilled in their own lives for sustainable living solutions; simple ways to save money, live on less, to take back more of their free time for the things they love. Their family, their children, and their friends discussed a passion to experience more of the same, including benefiting from our solutions for the development field.

  • Marissa and I wanted to build a demonstration model here, in the U.S., to show potential donors what we were doing in Haiti.
  • The community wanted to live the innovations and solutions themselves.
  • Marissa and I wanted a community to live these principles out with.
  • The community here needed someone to pioneer the way.
  • Marissa and I wanted it to have a truly Glocal ethos; helping local communities WHILE enabling more help for the foreign mission field.
  • The community here, Nate and Ida, Jeff and Kim Hanshaw, Adam Whelchel, and so many more had done ministry or missions, saw the value, AND wanted to make a massive difference right here at home.

It is a perfect fit. So, we are launching a farm.

We briefly put "Pick U: Where You Pick" out there and quickly decided that did not say what we wanted to say. We landed on Grow University Farms; "Grow U".

More to come on this, but it is the natural evolution of the ministry mentality; serve where you are at. It is truly "Think Global, Act Local."

As All This Grows

Marissa doin' what she loves.
I am astounded at what God has done, truly. Marissa and I traveled for what seems like forever, found where we can make a difference (Hispaniola), and have returned to be as prosperous as ever.

  • God granted that Marissa could work at her passion; teaching dive instructing. 
  • This allows me to stay home, build up the non-profit, and find partners such as the Mundells, the Hanshaws, Adam, land partners and financial partners.
  • God has granted that, out of the blue, my training business is exploding. People want to know about Customer Service, I guess, and I have a proprietary way to do that.

Me training at a MOPS meeting.
We are blessed and prosperous all around. God's word is coming to pass.

We are excited to be on this path. Please let us know if you want to partner. Stay tuned for more updates. And watch for our "Rookie Missionary Manifesto" coming out in the next few days!

Be Blessed,

Grant R. Nieddu

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Paradigm of Paralysis 2: Dirt Diggin'

You see, there was another guy standing on the shore. He watched the old man set out and fade to a speck on the shore. He wondered what the other shore looked like. He saw all the interesting unique trinkets the first man would return with. He didn't want the trinkets himself; he wanted to see the world that created such unique interesting things.

This is a lesson in itself. People in general do not want the trinkets; the latest gadgets, the run-way model clothes, the Bughatti Veyron. They are more intrigued with the life that was able to obtain them.

This second man, decided that he too would set off and follow the man. So, he hopped in a boat, grabbed the oars, and dug in.

He drove the oars hard; they resisted with every stroke. The first man had made it look so easy. The second manwatched the shore; it refused to fade. It was the same as when he first started. The first man had drifted to the horizon so quickly.

The man's sweat soaked his shirt. He would glance furtively over his shoulder to see if he was catching up with the first man. He would glance at the shore and see that he was not making any progress.

This would certainly be frustrating for any of us. 

But it was especially frustrating for the man when his neighbor sauntered by and mocked, "When are you going to put that boat in the water?"

Though this could be a lesson on choosing a career, putting your efforts to the right work, it is, for now, merely a lesson on paradigm.


Monday, March 25, 2013

A Paradigm of Paralysis Part 1

A man rowed a boat. He pointed the small, wooden vessel in the direction of his destination. Climbing into the timbered slip, he grasped his well-worn oars, plunged them into the water, and leaned his back into it.

The horizon in front of him drew further and further away. The chaotic noises of the land drifted quietly into the distance. Gulls and their cry quickly filled his ears. The dipping of the oars into the water, the sweat of his back slapping the wooden panels in the boat, and the cool breeze enlivened him.

Every now and again he would look left or right and briefly glance over his shoulder to see if he was making progress. For a bit, he would watch the fading shore to determine if he was making progress. Eventually, though, he realized that the glance over his shoulder and the shore that was now a grey line on the horizon would not be the standard of measure of his progress.

At that point, what should he use to determine his progress?

There are a lot of people who are stuck.

In my time working with missionaries, or working with training clients, I find that many people have great characteristic, strengths and intrinsic value(s). Yet they still do not get the results they want.

How do I know this? Because they are generally unhappy. If they are working, they are unhappy that they are not on the mission field or not in the business they want. If they are on the field, they are unhappy that they are so far from their family. If they are in the business they want, they are unhappy  with the client load they have.

Now, you and I both know that they really are getting the results they want. By the standard of measures they had before, they have made progress. They should be at peace with where they are, the need for the energy they are putting in at the moment, and they should measure success by their ability to carry on; knowing full well that they will arrive at their destination, that their old destination does not matter, and that the only healthy focus is to continue the work.

What it normally looks like for the people we know, however, is what it looks like for the second guy.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creepy Voodoo Bead & All That You Have

What I joke is my creepy, voodoo bead
is my reminder of resourcefulness.
Don't tell me you have nothing.
Do not tell me that you don't have enough resources.
Do not tell me you cannot start right where you are at with what you have in your two hands.

On a steamy afternoon in downtown Sosua on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, +Marissa Nieddu and walked quickly to catch a gua-gua, the local bus. As usual, we passed the cigar maker (is he Belgium, I am not sure.) We shuffled passed the ladies offering foot massages. Then, we passed two Haitian women on the sidewalk.

They were homely. Haitians are greatly discriminated against in the DR. They are often pushed to the side, forgotten, and poor. One of the women immediately gave up offering us anything as we breezed by her in our hurry. The other woman was far more insistent. She grabbed my wrist and offered me this bead.

I told her 'no.' I told her that I have no money. I told her that I was in a hurry.

Yet, she held onto my wrist and insisted on giving it to me, saying 'gift' in broken Keyol-English. I yielded.

As she tied it onto my backpack, I realized that it was woven of human hair. She finished quickly, I reached into my pocket and gave her a few pesos, and we rushed off.

"Its human hair!" I exclaimed to Marissa. She looked closer.
"Wow," Marissa marveled.
"What if we are missionaries and this is a creepy voodoo bead!" I joked with her. We chuckled and hopped the bus.

Seated on the way back to our room, I thought about this woman. She used the only things she had; 3 beads and her own hair. She made something unique and odd and daring with it to create the breakthrough she needed for that day.

And, maybe she gained a few pesos from it; a lunch or a cup of coffee. Don't tell me you don't have something to work with! Get with it, friend.

We have a world to help. Your resources here are vast. Your resourcefulness is more so.
  • My friend, +Jason Northington, uses his knowledge alone to make an impact. 
  • My other friend, +Jeremy Cranor, consciously uses his story-telling ability to sell shirts that fund missionaries around the world. 
  • My buddy +Chantz Cutts uses his experiences from Dell and life to make a difference with human exploitation.
  • +Natalie Kale recently told me about an acquaintance of her family who uses Civil War re-enactments  He dresses like a Civil War priest, goes out onto the field after the reenacted battle, and prays over people. He comforts the Civil War-era newly widowed. And you know what? He usually has very real services set up outdoors with very real commitments to the faith. (What in the world?! CRAZY! Amazing. I know.)

Use what you got. No more excuses. You have the resources you need right now. Now, GO. DO.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DANG! Red Cross Only Spends What?!

I was, literally, floored by what I found.

To put together my fundraising presentation for our sustainable home project in Haiti and here, I wanted to compare data with the industry standard. So, I looked up American Red Cross's IRS filings; their Form 990. All charities are required to file these annually.

This is what I found.

American Red Cross Cash Flow

Now, let it be said that American Red Cross does a lot of good things. Let is also be said that their report on Charity Navigator gives them a glowing report.
  • Charity Navigator gave them a 59 out of 70; that's 84%!
  • It also reports that Administrative Expenses accounts for only 4% of their expenses. It says that Program Expenses are 92.2% of their expenses.
Now, this sounds great...on Charity Navigator. How on earth they sort these expenses like this, I am not sure. This boggles me when I read the Form 990 line by line.

How Does This Look At Our Scale

To compare, our organization promotes that that we can build sustainable homes for approximately $5,500. As a good business principle, I need to make sure that the client receives what they expect or better (under-promise, over-deliver.) That is the price it would take to complete that building.

A donor client would expect that $5,500 would go to build that house. If they found out that only $2,090 made it to the field, the building was not complete, and that I will need more donations to complete that building, they would be pretty upset. That is just not good public relations.

I am not opposed to paying salaries. Someone has to get paid. Someone has to administer medical care (Red Cross) or pound a tire (PhilanTropics Foundation.) But tell the whole story. 

In our case, we can complete a sustainable home for $5,500, a sustainable community for about $44,000. This would include the labor for the build itself. To continue to maintain the administration, however, we would need at least another $36,000 a year.

What it takes to manage an entity that large, I can only guess. Yet, I appeal, treat that donor client responsibly. The nonprofit sector is in dire need of building trust agents.
  • If that donor client knew that 60% of their donations went to salaries, would they want to continue to partner with that organization? 
  • Finally, would YOU include the Administration Expense/Salaries in the per unit production cost? 
  • If not, how would you present it?


Grant R. Nieddu

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to File Your Non-Profit

The document is also on Scribd.
A Sparked Guide to Official Organization

[Version 2.0 - Included the application with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.]

Recently at an appointment with an awesome couple launching their own cause-driven non-profit, they asked me to help them with their official organizing documents. Having done this a handful of times, I had some resources they could use.

Following is the information I sent to them. Get the information now. Use the documents listed as this will go up on and soon as a paid document.

As a sidebar, to make sure your organization is formed exactly the way you want, I would always recommend that you consult a lawyer. (If you are in the Lakeland area, you could use the guy I used, Sam.)

 This is the general outline of what the process looks like.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. Articles of Incorporation
    1. Cost: $35 is the minimum fee. Get copies of your documents once they are posted online by clicking the PDF download and printing from there. Get additional, stamped hard copies sent directly to you from the State office for additional fees.
    2. Apply Offline: Do this OFFline because applying online has set, standard Articles of Incorporation. This looks well and good, but when you get to Step 3, applying for the 501(c)3, you will be required to have specific language in your Articles of Incorporation. That will require you to file an Articles of Amendment which, typically, can only be done offline anyway. Save yourself the time and money; apply offline first.
  2. Apply with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
    1. Cost: The fees start at $10. The first year most organizations will only pay this. There is a sliding scale of up to $400.
    2. Apply Offline:
      1. Get the form here.
      2. The Department does not offer the option to register your charity online yet.
    3. Renew Annually!
  3. Obtain EIN
    1. Go here:
    2. You should be familiar with the IRS website and everything having to do with Nonprofits. That link will take you directly to the application. But take your time to get familiar with the website; they have great resources.
  4. Apply 501(c)3
    1. This is a 25 page document that will require additional sheets when you are completed. Take your time with it! You currently only have 3 times you can reapply until you have to pay the $750 fee again!
    2. Working with a lawyer can seriously cut down on the time it takes and can help you become confident that you are forming the type of entity you want to form.


  1. Check the
    1. Verify your trademark, brand, name, and phrasing are available by doing a search.
    2. I recommend applying online if possible before forming your company. I had a friend who lost his entire brand and $8,000 of product because this was not established first.
  2. Check your website domain availability.
    1. Go to
    2. See if your domain name is available.
      1. If it is not, try variations of your slogan or phrase.
      2. If you are still stuck, the WhoIs information will be available for you to consider contacting the current owner.
  3. Apply to the State.
    1. Download the form from your state’s website. (Here in Florida.)
    2. Add the language required by the IRS for Public Charities.
      1. Dissolution Clause
        1. An example is included in this document.
      2. Purpose Clause
        1. Pull language from the IRS website for Tax-Exempt purpose.
        2. An example is included in this document.
      3. Conflict of Interest Policy
        1. This will ultimately be part of your By Laws. You can avoid this on your application for the 501(c)3, but you will have to answer additional questions.
        2. An example is included in this document.
      4. Limitations Clause
        1. This clause will simply ensure that your organization will limit its actions to be in accordance with its tax exempt purposes.
        2. An example is included in this document.
  4. Apply to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
    1. Get the form here:
    2. Select ‘Registration for Charitable Organizations’.
    3. Fill out.
    4. Include your fee.
    5. Mail to the Dept of Ag & Consumer Services.
    6. You do not have to wait to receive this before applying for your EIN.
  5. Apply for an EIN.
    2. Follow the prompts.
  6. Apply for your 501(c)3.
    1. Download the Form 1023 from the IRS website.
    2. Step by step, fill out each of the questions in detail.
    3. I have included several examples of actual applications for you to use.
    4. I highly recommend working with an experienced lawyer on the application. If you are on a budget, however, you can feel confident that these two applications were actually used.
    5. Contact us if you have any questions.

    Examples of Articles

    Language for Your State Articles of Incorporation Required by the IRS


    Said corporation is organized exclusively for:


    Board of Directors



    The board is responsible for overall policy and direction of the organization, and assigns responsibility of day-to-day operations to the staff.


    The board shall have up to 12, but not fewer than 3 members.


    Board members do not receive compensation, except the Executive Director.

    a. The Executive Director receives reasonable compensation approved by the board in accordance with the Conflict of Interest policy.

    b. Compensation shall be approved in advance of paying compensation.

    c. The approval process will be documented in writing, recording the decision made by each individual.

    d. Compensation amount will be approved by basing compensation of similarly situated taxable and tax-exempt organizations for similar services.

    e. The information on which was relied to base and its source(s) will be documented in writing.


    The initial Board of Directors is as follows:

    Name: _____________________   Address: ____________________________________________________
    Name: _____________________   Address: ____________________________________________________
    Name: _____________________   Address: ____________________________________________________

    Section 3 – POWERS

    The Board of Directors shall govern the Corporation, and shall have all the rights and powers of a board of directors under the laws of the State of Florida and of the United States, as well as such other rights and authority as are herein granted.  Such rights and powers shall include, but not be limited to, the power to adopt and amend the by-laws and other corporate governing documents, by a majority vote, in any way not inconsistent with the Articles of Incorporation, the laws of the State of Florida, or the laws of the United States.

    Section 4 — TERMS:

    All board members shall serve two-year terms, but are eligible for reappointment for up to five consecutive terms.

    Section 5 — MEETINGS AND NOTICE:

    The board shall meet at least quarterly, at an agreed upon time and place.

    Section 6 — BOARD APPOINTMENT:

    During the last quarter of each fiscal year of the corporation, the Executive Director of the Corporation shall appoint Directors to replace those whose terms will expire at the end of the fiscal year.

    Section 7 — OFFICERS AND DUTIES:

    There shall be a minimum of three officers of the board, consisting of a executive director, secretary and treasurer.


    Resignation from the board must be in writing and received by the secretary. A board member can be terminated from the board due to excess absences, more than two unexcused absences from board meetings in a year. A board member may be removed for other reasons at the sole discretion of the Executive Director.


    At all times the following shall operate as conditions restricting the operations and activities of the corporation:

    1. No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article Third hereof.

    2. No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

    3. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or (b) by a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.

    Dissolution of Assets

    Upon the dissolution of the corporation, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, to the legitimate local government where the corporation dominantly served as determined by the Board of Directors for a public purpose. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by a Court of Competent Jurisdiction of the county in which the principal office of the corporation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.

    Debt Obligations and Personal Liability

    No officer or director of this corporation shall be personally liable for the debts or obligations of this corporation of any nature whatsoever, nor shall any of the property of the members, officers or directors be subject to the payment of debts or obligations of this corporation.

    Documents You Will Need

    As promised, following are the documents you will need.

    Florida Applications:
    FORM 1023 [Applying for 501(c)3]:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rookie Missionary Tip 045: Permaculture

A permaculture plan for a small farm.
One of the biggest concerns I have on the field is that many missionaries and humanitarians starting out do not have many practical skills to offer.

The goal is to a) connect with the locals in a relevant meaningful way, to b) implement and sustain something that improves their lives, so that c) the experience a more sustainable prosperity.

Here is one powerful way to do that!

Rookie Missionary Tip 045: Permaculture & Working With Nature. What can you do on the field that is sustainable, contributes to the local needs, offers cutting-edge ideas and is an appropriate technology? Permaculture achieves all of these and more.

Also check out (non-affiliate link) and our friend and fellow Biotecture student, Nick Burtner.

Grant and Marissa Nieddu, live from the mission field on the Island of Hispaniola, offer their daily Rookie Missionary Tips and Mistakes.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Everyone a Rookie Missionary

About to Launch; What About Your Leap?

Having just recently returned from being on the field for the last 9 months, I have returned to a changed world. And I like it.

Everyone in my community are in a major transition in their lives. It is not always an externally critical moment. Many times there is a massive internal adjustment happening.

Rookie Missionary launched while we were on the field in the Dominican Republic because we were constantly encountering people who want to do huge things on the field. Some were motivated by basic evangelical yearnings. Most, however, just wanted to help vulnerable people in a massive way. I have a passion to help this latter group.

You see, being a Rookie Missionary is someone on the edge of their seat about to launch a mission. Hear me on this; they are people about to launch any mission.

A mission is that cause, that need, that art, you cannot let go. It lives in between the cells in your marrow. It ekes out in the in-between moments.

A Type of Freedom

As the world spins out of control, as popes quit, comets hit, Chavez dips, and the economy flips, we arrive at a type of freedom. We quickly accept that we can really trust very little of others' dreams. That is when we begin to dream again.

And when we dream, we quiet ourselves to listen to our internal dreamer, our spirit. And it is crying out to us from our marrow and reminding us of the thing we are passionate about. It is reminding us of our calling. It is reminding us of our mission.

You see, we are all Rookie Missionaries, striking out anew on a mission on our heart.

Speaking at MOPS I encountered
many passionate people with their
own causes and drives.
As an example, in returning to Lakeland, I have encountered no less than 4 different small teams of people wanting to launch a cause.

Many point and say, "See, the non-profit segment is inundated!"

I say, "Look! Passionate people rising!"

In fact, there has been so much interest that I am considering putting on a Saturday session, bring in professionals, and help launch these wonderful causes.

They, like you, need massive professional input. They, like you, need to get acquainted with the ins and outs of your cause, of the non-profit sector, and of high-lid leadership skills for the humanitarian field.

We need to equip.
We need to learn.
We need to implement, or partner with implementers.

I say all this to say that I am deeply encouraged.

I am deeply hopeful. Light up the cause in your heart. Light up the mission under your skin. Let me know if I can help. (And, let me know if you want to be involved in a powerful session, too!)

Now, go out, be a Rookie Missionary on something, and let us know how you're doing!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bamboo Fencing and Problem Solving

Part of our work in creating Sustainable Communities for underdeveloped areas, we have several terms.

  • Materials must be truly sustainable*.
  • They must be able to be sourced locally.
  • They must have some aesthetically pleasing qualities.

These being our principles, +Marissa Nieddu and I will install a privacy fence on our teaching & demonstration model sustainable home. We want to have a privacy fence on our property in the U.S. so that we can innovate without being hassled by local code enforcement before we were ready. We want to do things by the law. At the same time, we want to be able to show people that a technology works before it gets shut down.

To that end, we were deciding on different types of fencing. However, we hit a snag. As we read the code we realized that a privacy fence can only be 6 feet high. That is all well and good, but to a curious code enforcement worker or nosy neighbor, that is not too difficult to look over.

Thus, we then began searching for a work around. The idea arose to plant a fence. That's right, plant a fence.

I wanted to visualize how it looked so I drew this up quickly.
Bamboo was an obvious choice. It can easily grow 20+ feet high. It can be planted in one location and swiftly spread. The only challenge would be having controlled growth which can be accomplished with a lined bed of sort.

It naturally grows that high. It is not technically a privacy fence as much as it is landscaping. We will see how long that holds up.

No, this is not exactly on topic for Rookie Missionary or humanitarian development work. It does have to do with setting up our teaching and demo model. 

It is also insight into the problem solving necessary to implement the vision on your heart. Get busy solving problems!

Rookie Missionary Tip: 044 Multi-Tool

Rookie #Missionary Tip of the Day: 044 - Bring a Multi-Tool

When we originally shot this, we were in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic. The day before, the toilet clogged and we had to use a coat hangar to get the toilet working again. This is the follow up video to that, letting you know how to maneuver the coat hangar.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Polk County Planning Seems Hopeful

Phew! Moving our sustainable community incubator forward another step. Just got off the phone with the #PolkPlanningDepartment .

Apparently you can apply for a "Pre-Application Review" where several city specialists will review and potentially sign off on items at a weekly meeting. The fee is $100 and it occurs at the Bartow office.

The City Planner on call returned my call the next day, listened to my questions, and gave me direction. I am happy with that service.

I am still jumpy with the unknown cost and time-expense of the planning process. How many appointments like this will be required? How many $100 this and $100 that will I have to go through? Why is it not a clear process?