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What new nonprofits need before hiring a grant writer

Too many new nonprofits  look to hire a grant writer before they’re ready to write grants. Or they try to hire a grant writer long before they have the funds to pay them.


New nonprofits need to be patient, rather than hire a grant writer. Grants are not free money. Grants are not an essential piece of your new nonprofit’s funding. If you try to hire a grant writer 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 you hire 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. We see 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 hire a grant writer.


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.

What new nonprofits need before hiring a grant writer was last modified: by


  • Tamar Cloyd

    09.11.2011 at 15:45 Reply

    LOVE this!! Thanks for always providing honest feedback on what it is to be a grant writer. “We” appreciate you 🙂

  • Applying for Non Profit Grants? Before you Hire a Nonprofit Grant Writer… | | i Start A Nonprofiti Start A Nonprofit

    25.02.2012 at 09:26 Reply

    […] 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 […]

  • Lance Leasure

    18.04.2014 at 07:17 Reply

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Megan! Your advice is just as valid (though maybe from a slightly different perspective) for those who’ve already hired a grant writer and are experiencing difficulties making progress. Not to mention, your tips are also a good way for a newly hired grant writer to set expectations with their org. Thanks for the post!

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