Sunday, June 21, 2009

What Grant Writing Is, and What It Is Not...

Top 10 Clarifying Facts; What Grant Writing Is and Is Not...

10. Grant writing is not a short term solution for a current debilitating deficit. Grant writing is one fundraising method (among others) that requires research, planning, implementation, writing, submission, and waiting-for-a-response...time. For more on this discussion read

9. Grant writing is not simply sitting down one afternoon to write a grant proposal, without having done any research to locate potential donors who are likely to give to your organization, without research, without networking, without getting a sense of the organization's professional field (in whichever region(s) the organization serves), without demographics research and more. For more on this discussion read

8. Successful grant raising is not the result of having hired or contracted with a grant writer who works alone. It is a team effort; the executive director, bookkeeper, programs manager, development director and more are most often involved and working with the grant writer together as a team, over the duration of the grant writing work. For more on this discussion read

7. Grants are not won only because you hired a grant writer who has some huge success rate in writing and raising grants. Grants are earned. They are earned because, yes, to a lesser degree the grant writer must have talent, experience, excellent skill, and current knowledge; but grants are earned in a larger part because the applicant nonprofit is well run and operated, who are successful in their mission, who are known in their respective professional and beneficiaries' communities (for more on this point read the post ), has an excellent reputation (has not had recent bad press, is not known for shady or unethical professionalism, and is not reputed for dishonest bookkeeping or tax reporting, etc.), and because they are proposing to provide a compelling, currently needed, a truly potentially viable and successful, well researched and thought out, current program or project that truly meets a real current need in its community that is currently not being served or met. For more on how to conduct excellent nonprofit operations read

6. Grant writing should not be an organization or even a single project or program's only source of funding at any one time. Diversifying the fundraising used over the course of a year, for instance, to bring a nonprofit income from many different types of fundraising methods (e.g. grant writing, annual appeal letter, donation remittance envelopes inserted into newsletters, special events such as formal dinners or golf tournaments, etc.) reduce the amount of exposure a nonprofit or even a single project has if one method is not as successful, this year, as it maybe was the past few years. Have room in your overall fundraising plan to learn, year to year, what your donors enjoy now and what fundraisers have fallen out of interest or even popularity. For more on this discussion read

5. Grant writing is not a skill that anyone can't learn. If you want to go ahead and give it a try but know nothing about it - that's O.K. (and good). Just be sure to learn about grant writing, what the professional best practices are today, and what works to really truly raise grants and what does not. Do not just leap in and think that you can wade through the work. There are certain basics that grant donors expect, today, in applications, among potential donors' interaction with them, etc. Especially in this economy, if you don't follow through with any potential grant donor to the degree that they are now (today) accustomed to; it can place your organization's grant application into the 'do not fund this giving cycle' pile before anyone at the grant donor's office has truly read it. To discover some excellent, reputable, and well respected resources to learn more about grant writing read

4. Grant writing is an excellent fundraising method, once a program is put into place at any nonprofit who has invested in its grant writing program and has committed itself to the long term program and its work. It is completely viable as long as a nonprofit that implements it understands what it is and what it isn't and what the realistic time line is (typically) in grant raising.

3. Grant writing is one of the many fundraising methods that nonprofits may to choose to use that, when successful, raises large single donations at a time (instead of several small donations raised at one time). It can be very powerful to mix the fundraising methods that an organization uses thinking about the number of donations each method is expected to raise in ratio to the amount that can be realistically expected to raise.

2. Grant writing is one of the best and most sure ways to force the planning of new programs, projects, and even new nonprofit organizations' launches. If you can not clearly define for any potential donor (including grant donors) what it is that you are proposing to do with their large donation (in this case, a grant) why should they invest in your organization and its proposed project when they have many other excellent programs run by other excellent nonprofits to select from. Make a strong, compelling, thorough, honest, and clear case why a donor should give, in any grant proposal. To do this, all applicant nonprofits who will be seriously considered will have done their homework; and it will show. For more on this discussion read

1. Grant writing is an option to any nonprofit; from start up to a long established 150 year old nonprofit. Whether the agency has ever attempted grant writing or not - it is a viable and excellent fundraising method to integrate into your organization's annual fundraising plan, year to year. Just be sure to learn about it and allow it the time required to be successful. (See number 7., above, and the suggested further reading for more).


Joanne Fritz said...

Love your post, Arlene! You are a wonderful expert. I've linked to you.

Joanne Fritz

Anonymous said...

Love it...Now can you tell my boss.

Arlene M. Spencer said...

Anon, I have been there and I empathize with you! Arlene

Anonymous said...

you are a wonderful wealth of information and I so appreciate your sharing!

Arlene M. Spencer said...

Anon, You are welcome! Arlene