Becoming a Grantwriter
For many nonprofits hiring a professional grantwriter is simply not an option. If you have someone in-house with the necessary experience and know-how, that’s great. But in many cases you may simply have someone who’s good at writing but needs to learnt the ins and outs of grantwriting.
The good news is that there are more and more free resources available on the internet. They are a great place to start assuming you have someone who is a good writer, has sting analytical ability and is painstakingly detail-oriented.
Newbies will not of course have the sophistication and expertise of a professional, but often foundations actually prefer the genuine voice that comes from an “amateur” who is simply passionate about what they are doing. (Of course, the writing must still be good and basic tools like spellchecker should always be used!)
There is a wealth of information available on this GrantProposal.info site. There are also some free or inexpensive classes, tutorials and webinars available. We include some of them here:
An excellent Proposal Writing Short Course is available free at the Foundation Center. The Foundation Center is always worth checking for grant-related information.
Do Write a Grant Proposal That Gets Noticed: This excellent resource from the Minnesota Council on Foundations provides great advice about grant writing and about how to make your proposal stand out from all the rest.
Pet Peeves and High Praise from Program Officers: Another offering from the Minnesota Council on Foundations offers enlightening advice about writing a proposal that gets funded. Particularly valuable that the tips come from Minnesota grant making staff themselves.
Non-Profit Guides offers free grant-writing tools for nonprofit organizations.
Consultants: to Hire or Not to Hire
Grantwriting fees vary greatly depending on the type of grant (government or non-government), the experience of the grant writer, and more. Those fees can easily exceed several thousand dollars and come with no guarantee that your project will be funded. (It is also considered unethical for grant writers to be paid on any sort of contingency fee arrangement.) If you feel you seriously need some professional assistance, you might just pay for an important piece of basically every proposal, such as your case statement. It would describe your nonprofit and your projects and could be carefully used in proposals to more than one foundation.
You might also consider joining forces with other nonprofits in your community. You could offer some resources and talent that they lack and they might be able to contribute experienced grant-writing staff for a project that you jointly sponsor. Particularly if you are new on the nonprofit scene, partnering could result in you being more favorably viewed than if you were to apply on your own.
If you decide to hire a consultant always be sure to see examples of their writing, speak to others who have hired them in the past, and see if you can have a consultant do a small project for you before jumping in with both feet. Very few if any consultants if any will do pro bono work unless it is for organizations they already know well and love dearly.
Some associations provide lists of grantwriting consultants available for hire . Be aware though that names are probably on a list because they paid to be there — the list does not necessarily vouch for the quality of that person’s work.
Check with your local United Way office to see if they might recommend some quality local writers.
You might also check with a reputable outfit like odesk.com to hire someone to write for you. Be sure to look carefully through that person’s reviews and see if you can speak to previous customers. You can also check to see if a grant writer is “certified” by using the link below.
You can find a list of Certified Grantwriters at the American Grantwriters Association, Inc.