Utilizing grants to build your nonprofit funding
You and your board know that the two new programs that you want to provide require more money in the budget than can be produced from donors. You have heard about Nonprofit Grants, but you’re a new nonprofit that has never gone after grant money before. It’s an untapped resource that you want to begin to tap. Why leave a potential donation stream to your charity untouched? Your board and you agree. It’s time. You are facing hiring a grant writer as an employee or hiring a professional grant writing service. How does that work?
To raise money you will have to spend money. Sounds crummy? You have already been doing this as a normal course of business. To raise donations from your donor base you send them newsletters complete with donor envelopes, or you mail them annual appeal letters, invite them to special events, and solicit them. The solicitation cost time and money to create, design, print, mail, and manage. These costs are part of the cost of raising money for non-profits.
Hiring a nonprofit grant writer is no different; hiring a professional is the most cost effective way to gain the funding you need. Now remember this, it is unethical to pay a nonprofit grant writer a percentage of any grants your charity may receive. Why? No grant donor is giving the grant to a nonprofit so that you can pay your fundraising staff. They give grants to connect with successful programs that fulfill a given nonprofit’s mission. They give nonprofit grants to the program or project that the grant was requesting funds for. That money is expected to be spent on only what the nonprofit grant proposal asked money for. Nonprofits not in compliance could get a reputation for spending grant money less than ethically and that would be the kiss of death for more than just fundraising grant donations. Further, a nonprofit grant is not received based on whether a grant writer writes a good proposal or not, the proposal must be well written and within guidelines, that is expected. Funds are received because that foundation wants to be a part of completing your mission. A good nonprofit grant proposal is just part of the equation. Your charity’s track record and reputation are equally as important as to whether a nonprofit grant is received or not.
So, the budget for your nonprofit grant writer. Don’t have room in the budget to hire one? Add a one-time-only fundraiser to the year and raise the money to do so. Expect the grant writer to be paid fees that match their reputation. If you hire a college student for 10.00 an hour expect results to be limited. Expect a professional nonprofit grant writing organization to want to first, get familiar with what information is already pulled together by you, to write a proposal. They will need time to prospect for nonprofit grant donors to apply to, to get familiar with your agency and history, and to write, submit proposals, and end of grant reports, etc.
Keep in mind, too, that foundations typically meet once a quarter or less. It is usually best to mail a proposal for a project at least four months before the project is going to start so that you have time to hear back from the potential funders for that project. When you meet potential grant writers, ask for the time they estimate that is required to do the grant work that your organization needs done. Ask them to include a price quote with that.
It is advisable to hire a firm who already has the skills and expertise to write nonprofit grant proposals sooner than later it’s good to hire a consulting grant writer or consulting firm. Firms that specialize in fundraising and nonprofit organizational management can either provide nonprofit grant writing services or direct you to colleagues who do. Pay attention to whom you click with and communicate well with and who you don’t. Much of nonprofit grant writing is back and forth; learning about the agency, understanding the mission and agency’s work, going over proposal drafts, etc. It is a close working relationship and you want to hire a nonprofit grant writer who you can work with. Ask them for references and check them.
You want to be able to return to a nonprofit grant donor and receive grants again and again in the future. (This requires time, relationship building, and ethical accounting and procedures). You want to receive nonprofit grants based on your charity’s ability to meet its mission and meet it well.
After you’ve hired your nonprofit’s grant writer, work with them and remember that your responses to their questions, or your proofreading, or getting the documents that they need back to them is as necessary to the nonprofit grant writing process as the grant writer sitting down to write. The grant writer is a part of nonprofit grant rising process, but they is not responsible for it, alone. Working together is how it’s done.