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Grants Are NOT Easy Money

How many times have you heard, “just write a grant!” Like this is something you can do while waiting in the carpool lane or while you are juggling multiple projects. Whether it’s a board member, your E.D. or program director, you just have to smile and “thank you.”

New and emerging nonprofit leaders often tell me their fundraising plan is to “get a grant.”

Many people believe that grants are easy money. Maybe because they’ve seen one grant award for thousands of dollars. But what they don’t see is all the rejection letters or the countless hours spent on research, writing narratives, and carefully managing programs. On average, a good grant writer is awarded four out of ten grant proposals submitted. With organizations brand-new to grants, I’ve seen results of one in 10 would be funded.

The “just write a grant” people also don’t see the entire framework involved in total process. Much like the donor cycle, there are multiple steps in successful grant seeking.

Grants are not easy money, nor should they be the largest portion of your fundraising strategy.

Check out my article HERE on evaluating grant success.

According to Giving USA, foundations only give about 20% of all philanthropic dollars. Individual donors give close to 80% of dollars raised annually.

Here are some suggestions that will help you build support from private foundations:

· Follow the directions to submit your proposal.

· Allow ample time to prepare your proposal.

· Have more than one person proof your writing for spelling and grammar, and whether or not you answered the questions.

· Build relationships with local foundation program officers.

· Do research. Which foundations support your mission?

· Be grant ready. Which documents are generally required? Gather those documents in one file that is easily accessible.

· Include measurable impact benchmarks in your program development.

· Don’t chase the money. Don’t create a new program to go after new funding.

· Join Grant Professionals Association for resources, best practices and professional development.

As a seasoned grant writer, I understand the temptation to “just write a grant” so I advise my clients that grants should be a balanced part of your integrated fundraising plan.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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