This list includes some of the most common questions I hear from new and potential clients. If you do not see the answer to your question addressed below, please feel free to contact me or post your question as a comment.
Q: I’m interested in working with you. How do we get started?
A: Please email me with a description of your project and the services you are interested in. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and to provide a quote upon request.
Q: What is your fee structure?
A: I charge an hourly rate, which varies depending on the nature of the project. Please contact me with the details of your project and I will provide a customized quote.
Q: Will you work for my organization on a contingency basis? (i.e. will you work for a percentage of funds raised?)
A: No. Paying a grant writer or fundraising professional on commission is generally frowned upon by professional associations and funding institutions. In fact, most institutional funders will not allow for grant writer or fundraiser fees to be included in the budget at all.
Proposals fail or succeed for a number of reasons, many of which are beyond the grant writer’s control. Success may depend on:
- Compatibility of the project with the funder’s priorities for giving;
- Degree of demonstrated need for the project or service in the community;
- Timing of the proposal and the funder’s existing commitments to other organizations;
- Originality of the project (i.e. there are no similar competing projects);
- Reputation and track record of the organization;
- Relationship with the funder;
- Number of competing proposals;
- Fiscal health of your organization;
- Demonstrated organizational capacity to carry out the proposed work;
- History of submitting grant reports on time.
No matter what the outcome of a proposal, I have still worked hard to complete it on my client’s behalf. The finished product always belongs to the organization, which can use its content for future grant applications, sponsorship proposals, donor appeals, etc.
For more information on this topic, please visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ FAQ page on Fundraising Ethics and scroll down to section 2, entitled “Percentage Compensation.”
Q: Can you guarantee that my organization will receive a grant?
A: No. Unfortunately, in grant seeking there are no guarantees — the outcome of your proposal actually depends on much more than just the written content. Factors beyond my control as the grant writer include: an organization’s track record for successful programming; history of financial responsibility; reputation in the community; prior contact and/or experience with the funder; and history of support from the community and other funders.
I can guarantee that I will meet deadlines, produce proposals that are complete and professional, and do everything I can to put your organization’s best face forward. If my gut tells me that your organization has a poor chance of securing a certain grant, I will share that professional opinion honestly.
Q: What can my organization do to improve our chances of success with grants?
A: Successful grants usually start with person-to-person contact, often between your organization’s Executive Director or Development Officer and a foundation’s Program Officer. Having a conversation with a potential funder will help your organization determine whether or not your project is in line with their priorities. If the match is a good one, the Program Officer will provide further instructions on how to request a grant. This is often the point at which a professional grant writer should be engaged.
Make sure that your project aligns closely with the foundation’s priorities and guidelines for giving. If it seems like a stretch to you, there is a good chance that the foundation will think so, too.
Q: What if I can’t get a meeting with a Program Officer?
A: While meeting with a funder or having a phone conversation is the ideal way to start the grant seeking process, there are many foundations that do not publish contact information for their staff. These are often small family foundations that have no paid staff, or large national corporations with charitable giving arms. Before you give up, be sure to consult with your organization’s board of directors. One of your board members may have a connection to the funder that you were not previously aware of.
Do some research: has the funder in question supported programs like yours in the past? Do they generally contribute to organizations in your geographic region? Do they have substantial assets, or do they make just a few grants per year?
If your research suggests that the funder is a good fit, it can’t hurt to submit something and hope for the best. However, you must use your judgement in deciding whether or not to engage a professional grant writer for so-called “cold” proposals — applications that have not been preceded by contact with the funder — as the success rate for such requests is substantially lower.
For more information, please contact me: