Too many new nonprofits jump into the grant writing game before they’re ready. Or they try to hire a grant writer long before they have the funds to pay them.
New nonprofits need to be patient. Grants are not free money. Grants are not an essential piece of your new nonprofit’s funding. If you try to hire someone before your nonprofit is grant ready, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money.
Here are some things new nonprofits absolutely need before hiring a grant writer:
1. Stable funding. Grant writers do not work on commission. If you are somehow able to cajole a grant writer into working for a percentage of a grant award, you’re not getting a good grant writer. Wait until you have plenty of funds to pay someone before trying to do so. Also, there’s a Catch-22 with grant writing. Foundations want to see that you have money coming in before they give you money. They want to make sure your organization isn’t going to fold, that their investment won’t go to waste. Make sure you can prove that before you submit a grant.
2. Accomplishments. You can certainly start a new program through a grant, but you cannot start a new organization with one, unless you know someone at a big foundation who can help you get a grant. Wait until you have some accomplishments to speak of, to prove to the funding organization that you’re ready to handle their money.
3. Direction. Capable leadership is part of direction, but you also need focus. I see way too many well-intentioned do-gooders trying to start a new nonprofit that promises the world, that provides a bunch of random services. Get organized before you start grant writing.
4. Details. Grants are like business plans. The good ones are extremely detailed, outlining exactly who will do what, where things will happen, on what days and times, etc. You can’t make these details up as you go through a grant narrative. Not only is it frustrating to the grant writer, but it’s extremely ineffective. Our suggestion is to look at some grant applications before you start grant writing, so you know what information you’ll need to develop.
Grant writing for new nonprofits is extremely challenging, especially in today’s economy. Wait until you’re ready, and you’ll be glad you did.
Learn more about our grant writing services here.