August 23, 2022

You Need A Grantwriter

When it's time to approach your Board about this, come to the table prepared.

You *know* you need a grant writer. You know exactly how many missed opportunities you have sitting in your inbox and it makes you cringe. Your development team is too busy with your golf event, your program director is in the middle of a funder audit, your well-meaning volunteer doesn’t know where to start, and you’d like to go to sleep before 1 AM some time before you die.

But convincing your Board of Directors that you need a grant writer is another story. Some of them will get it. Others will need some cajoling. It feels like too much of a financial investment. What if they don’t bring anything in for us? Why can’t you just do it, (name of Executive Director), it can’t be that hard!

We get it. It’s a big leap of faith to pay money to people who don’t know your organization like you do. But there’s money you’re leaving on the table, and in the long run those missed opportunities will cost you more than hiring a grant writer.

When it’s time to approach your Board about this, come to the table prepared:

1) Show them what they’re missing. If you’ve done your research already and have opportunities and funders to present, bring them to the discussion so that your Board can actually see the list. Make sure you show them information about their typical grant size, and who else they fund in your area to make the “why not us?” case. If you don’t know where to start doing that research, give KDS a call…we often start our long-term relationships with clients with opportunity research that presents well-vetted opportunities that match your needs. That way, your Board can see the universe you’re dealing with.

2) Show them what it takes. If funders have application forms and instructions available, bring those to the discussion with an estimate of how much time it would take you or your staff to complete all of these. Then monetize that effort, and explain what you’d be taking time and effort *off of* to get this done.

3) Show them options. Come to the discussion having already spoken with highly qualified grant professionals and their rates. Do your research on the cost of outsourcing to a consultant vs bringing on a part-time or full-time, in house writer.

4) Show them you know what you’re doing. Grant writers don’t work well in silos…they work best as a part of a team of people who are on the frontlines of the programmatic and development work you do. Come prepared with a plan to integrate the writer into your development team, or if you’re a smaller organization, with the leaders and decisionmakers at your organization so that your board understands how the writer will work with you to get the best results.

5) Show them the ROI. Break down the relationship you want to get into with a grant writer into dollars and cents. If you have a universe of $250,000 of opportunities, and you’re paying a grant writer a $25,000 fee to get the proposals developed, at best you’re looking at a 10:1 return on investment. A good grant writer is going to make sure you, at least, break even, at which point you’ve lost nothing on your risk. And at the end of the day, you’ll have high-quality narrative to use to try again next year…you paid for it, and it belongs to you! And if you’re successful? Even a 20% ROI will make a difference for your organization, and will lay the groundwork for a longer, sustained relationship with the funders from whom you’ve won grants. Small successes can yield growing gains over time.

If you’d like to discuss strategy for how to convince your board you need a grant writer, set up some time to speak with KDS.