CEO and Founder, Professional Grant Writers
Many nonprofits look to an outside grant writing consultant to help them pursue funding from government entities and foundations. An expert grant writer can certainly be the secret sauce you need to get more grant funding, but it’s not the right move for every nonprofit organization.
Is your organization grant ready?
Before hiring a grant writer, whether in-house or on a contract, you’ll want to determine if your organization is ready to apply for grants in the first place. Our company, Professional Grant Writers, often turns down business—you read that right—if a nonprofit is not well positioned to receive grants. That’s because we know how competitive the grant selection process is, and we understand that nonprofits are on slim budgets. We’re not here to waste anyone’s already limited money.
Nonprofits need to have many pieces in place before they start applying for grants. First, many foundations will not accept an application without three years of financial statements, so most new nonprofits won’t immediately qualify. Other important considerations include a strong board of directors, measurable outcomes, a track record of success, and diverse funding streams.
Making the hire
If your organization has all these things in place, perhaps you are in fact ready for help from an outside grants consultant. If your nonprofit is stretched thin and doesn’t have a designated staff person with the experience – and the time – to take on grant writing, a consultant can be a welcome alternative. You may also save money by hiring a contractor rather than a full-time employee, as you won’t have to provide fringe benefits for the contractor.
You can also select a model that works best for your organization’s situation. Maybe you aren’t ready for a full-time grant writer and want to start with grants on a more selective, piecemeal basis. Most grant writing companies offer the flexibility to customize a package of services that best fits your organization’s needs.
You’ll also have a wider applicant pool if you open your search up to outside consultants and make a hire regardless of the person’s location. Many grant writing consultants are just as effective working remotely, and you can easily find someone with the knowledge and experience necessary to increase your chances of grant writing success. This is often true even if your organization works in an extremely niche environment.
Get the most out of your grant writing consultant
Working with a grant writing consultant requires a commitment to a long-term process and a lot of collaboration. You’ll be working closely with the consultant to ensure she receives the information necessary to develop strong proposals. You’ll also want to communicate your organization’s changing needs and challenges, and any structural developments like new programs and staff or board member changes. You will also work closely with the grant writer to ensure the application narratives are accurate and thorough.
Grant writing is an all-hands-on-deck project, even once you hire an outside consultant. Once a grant is received, that situation is still true, as you’ll have to adequately manage the funds and report back to the funder on how the grant money is being used.
Grant writing often isn’t successful right off the bat, so it’s important to have realistic expectations. You should be prepared for a long-term process that gradually builds relationships with funders and sees success through a patient, concerted effort. These are all areas a grant writing consultant can help with, if your organization is prepared to do its part to help the process along.
About the Author
Megan Hill is the founder and CEO of Professional Grant Writers, a team of skilled nonprofit professionals working with organizations around the world.More Content by Megan Hill