Lynn Calder

Lynn Calder


Lynn Calder (Co-Founder, Grant writer) has twenty-five years of experience in development and communications for a variety of nonprofit organizations. 

Ellisha Caplan

Ellisha Caplan


Ellisha Caplan (Co-Founder, Grant writer) turned to nonprofit consulting after fifteen years in mostly small not-for-profits. The “all hands on deck” nature of small organizations afforded her extensive experience in all areas of fundraising, leadership development, marketing, communications, and event planning.



Non-profit grant writing

We are in our second year partnering with Shoestring Solutions and feel completely supported by Ellisha and Lynn’s talents.  They are part of our strategic vision and are very in tune with our mission and helping us bring it to life for Girls on the Run.  We have seen a significant improvement in our grant dollars since entering into this winning partnership.

Carrie Johnson

Executive Director, Girls on the Run of Lancaster and Lebanon

About ShoeString Solutions for Non-Profits

Shoestring Solutions for Nonprofits was founded on the belief that many nonprofit organizations are not able to pursue strong grant programs due to staff or budget limitations. The Company helps nonprofits secure grants and assists larger organizations with enhancing their foundation and corporate giving programs.

About Ellisha Caplan and Lynn Calder, the Founders

Before Shoestring Solutions, Lynn Carter was a freelance grant writer. Lynn previously was Assistant Director, Foundation Relations at Winterthur Museum and Country Estate.  Prior to moving to Delaware, she served as Director of Communications, North America at the American University of Beirut’s New York Office and Assistant Director of Communications at the American University in Cairo.

Prior to co-founding Shoestring Solutions, Ellisha was the Director of Young Leadership at the Jewish Federation of Delaware. Prior to that, she was Annual Campaign Director at The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation, Associate Director for Planning and Community Outreach, and Director of Young Adult and Women’s Divisions at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washtenaw County. Ellisha is deeply devoted to volunteerism. 

Hands-on Grant Writing & Grant Research: Shoestring knows that most non-profits lack the resources and funding to provide the high level of research and writing required to be competitive in securing grants. They work closely with you to assess your needs, discuss your goals and develop a plan that will help you attain maximum funding. Then, they put their excellent research and writing experience to work for you. They have helped non-profits secure over $XX million in grants and funding.

Lacing up successful grants at an affordable cost to nonprofits

Strategy, Goals and Results


As a participant in one of my Growth Strategies Webinar Series, Ellisha and Lynn were seeking to scale the business. They wanted to build a team of writers to do most of the grant writing (they would oversee and manage the writers) which would allow them to focus on other areas of the business.

The problem was, they did not know how to make it happen.

The Solution

Shoestring Solutions had great prospects for growth. The Company provided a great array of service offerings (i.e. grant research, grant reporting, development planning, etc.) that would be attractive to all kinds of non-profits. The key was defining the opportunity and then sequencing the action steps in implementing the growth strategy.

The approach we took included the following:

  • Defined and vetted the best opportunities for growth
  • Then we conducted a financial review focusing on cost of service, pricing, profit margin and found that cost of service was higher than Ellisha and Lynn knew, pricing was too low, and the profit margin would not allow them to implement their growth strategy. Subsequently, Ellisha and Lynn created a new pricing structure
  • Developed a customer persona that represented the type of customer that was compatible with Shoestring’s service offering, pricing, and profit margin needs
  • Developed an implementation strategy

Short-term Goals:

  • Reposition the business to secure new clients based on its needs
  • Add new clients
  • Increase top-line revenue
  • Add two writers


Long-term Goals:

  • Build out a robust team of writers
  • National in scope
  • Industry leader


The Final Results

  • Year over year sales increased by 50%
  • Current year sales projected to  double previous year
  • Landed multiple major clients during the year
  • Now up to 4 writers