The majority of non profit organizations wish to integrate foundation and government grants into their funding mix. It is a prudent course of action but not always simple. Grant research and writing require time and honed research and writing abilities. If your organization has a long-standing grants program, you may be fortunate enough to have a grant writer on staff with extensive experience. However, this is not the case for most non profit organizations, and it may be prudent to employ a grant writing specialist or consultant.
Do You Need To Hire an External Grant Writer?
Whether you just started your non profit organization or it needs additional capital, there are two ways to manage cash. The first is to expand the number of donors, and the second is to submit grant applications. Federal awards are often the longest and most complex, but have the most funding attached. Some state awards are also sponsored by the federal government and are sophisticated, highly detailed, and need substantial grant writing experience. If you want to expand the reach of your program and are looking for a grant, hiring an external grant writing company or experience grant writing consultant is inevitable.
Sections of Grants
The following sections are often present in grant proposals:
An abstract that provides a summary of the grant
A description of community needs and the non profit organization's capabilities to deliver the services
The actual services to be offered, the necessary personnel, and how your non profit organization will recruit and retain qualified employees
The execution of fidelity testing or an external evaluation, and the cost of the project
Begin with the Budget
Your grant proposal starts with a budget. You must demonstrate and describe in detail each of the services that you intend to provide, and assign the appropriate employee and the necessary supplies to each service. This combination must also have an affordable price.
When providing services, your first measurable component is the number of clients that your non profit organization will serve. You must create scenarios of costs associated to serve fifty families, one thousand households or 25, and each situation must have a budget. A skilled grant writer will assist you in defining your objectives and estimating expenses based on your community needs. Their external knowledge in this field is of paramount importance to successfully being able to obtain federal funding.
Needs Statement – Community Assessment
Employing a professional grant writer has a number of advantages, one of which is that the statement of need can be drafted concurrently with the process. A complete list of needs and services in a particular community is a useful document to have and use. The majority of non profit organizations do not make the investment in creating such a document; nonetheless, having access to such a record gives you thorough documentation of what the community needs and what already exists. You can then utilize this document to ensure that your services are optimal, and you can refer to this document while writing a funding proposal for your non profit.
An important part of any community assessment is feedback from the locals, such as surveys, focus groups with families, and in-person interviews with key informants. Other factors to consider are public health insurance coverage and prevalence of common disorders such as teen pregnancies and infants with low birth weight; employment and public transportation patterns; food deserts; and a list of available resources, including wait lists.
Depending on your non profit organization's objectives, the number of families to serve must be determined, but a competent grant writer may assist you in answering these issues.
A well-thought-out logic model is beneficial to this procedure. A logic model outlines the inputs or the services that will be provided and aids in the writing of the activities and the budget. The outputs are the second portion of the logic model. Attendance at the workshops and on a daily basis throughout the program are two examples of outputs. Typically, outcomes are more difficult to write and measure.
The outline of the activities is created by identifying each service together with the specifics of that service section. In this part, you should demonstrate how your actions are supported by research into best practices. Once again, a seasoned grant writer will be familiar with industry standards and best practices for non profit organizations that provide social services. Furthermore, a professional grant writer can quickly and effectively investigate relevant best practices to strengthen your proposal.
Evaluation and Reports
As an example of a metric your organization may wish to standardize, let's consider tracking the percentage of girls who participate in your program. Frequently, an external evaluator is required to evaluate a grant program and review its implementation. Numerous funders need an external assessor to be included in grant proposals.
An independent evaluator conducts an objective review of the grant operations, including fiscal procedures as well as purchases, even if this is not part of the requirements. Most funders perform program audits; an external evaluator assists with this. You are kept on track, and your outcomes and outputs are measured.
Choosing a Grant Writer
The best indicator of a successful grant request is the grant writer's batting average. The first question you should ask a grant writer is their success rate, and your goal is to locate someone with a success percentage of at least 82%. Sunshine Nonprofit Solutions has over 20 years of experience providing grant writing services to non profit organizations. With approximately 8-10 proposals per year for over 20 years, there were only 4 grants that were not awarded - one of which received an 87 with the cutoff being at 90. This track record of success is what you should be evaluating.
If you're looking to hire a grant writer full-time, it's important that you choose someone whose personal and professional goals match those of your company. If you are employing a grant writer from the outside, you will evaluate their proposal and prior clients. Are prior clients satisfied with their business? Grant writers who focus on environmental concerns and those who focus on helping children and families have different skill sets.
When employing a grant writer from the outside, obtain a proposal outlining the grant. This will guide your decision; a comprehensive, proposal-aligned framework is necessary. If you are going to hire a grant writer from outside your company, you might find it beneficial to work with the same grant writer on many proposals. The more familiar they become with your non profit organization and also the services it offers, the more successful you will be also.