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BusinessNonprofit Management

When should we hire a grant writer?

Inevitably, when founders are starting their nonprofit organizations, the topic of funding comes up. From my experience, the majority of nonprofit organizations are initially funded by their passionate founders and their network of family, friends, and business associates.

If you’re interested in launching a nonprofit, be prepared to put your money where your heart is.

There’s a certain learning curve that happens after an organization is up and running. This is the same learning curve that happens when anybody starts anything. Nobody knows it all and “trial by fire” and “on the job training” take on a whole new meaning.

After a year or two or three, you’ll probably discover what’s working, what didn’t work, who you can rely on, and the skills each person brings to your organization’s proverbial table.

Programs are the backbone of nonprofit organizations – they are reason an organization exists. Programs also cost money. A great way to help pay for programs is through grants. But in order to receive a grant, you need a “grant writer.”

A grant writer is a person who researches foundations and grants and pairs those grant makers/grants up with individual charities. The Foundation Center is an online hub to find those grant makers. In order to access their database, you’ll need to purchase a membership.

Nonprofits have to pay to play, too.

Using the Foundation Center’s database, you’ll be able to narrow your search down to only the most appropriate grants. You can search by geographic location, population served, gender, religion, area of study, etc.

If your organizations feeds the homeless in Houston, Texas, submitting a grant proposal to a foundation who’s geographic focus is New Hampshire wouldn’t make much sense.

Most smaller nonprofits just don’t have anybody with the technical writing skills or knowledge to draft grant proposals, so they hire a grant writer. Hiring a grant writer isn’t without risk. There is no guarantee a grant proposal will be funded, even though you’ll need to pay your grant writer for the time it takes them to research possible grants and draft the detailed and lengthy proposal.

When the risk is “worth it” to an organization is usually about the time they hire a grant writer.

Have a question or comment about nonprofits, grant proposals or hiring a grant writer? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comment below.

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