Grant Writing: An Investment

Why It’s Important to Invest in Grant Writing

Can you imagine a restaurant that has no vegetarian dishes on their menu or a clothing boutique that only sells a size small?  Or how about a coffee shop that has no alternative milk options?  In today’s world, to be a successful business you must be forward thinking and adaptable.  Sure, only serving your current clients’ needs is fine – but if you want to be competitive, if you want to grow and serve more, you have to adapt to the emerging needs of the market.  The same exact business advice pertains to nonprofit organizations and community causes equally.  It’s easy to forget that a nonprofit is a business, and has to run as such if they are to create real impact in the field.  Even more important is to realize that nonprofits are the one’s solving society’s most pressing issues – from fighting for the rights of our most oppressed to providing access to human need such as housing, food and health care – nonprofits are the ones getting the job done.

Interestingly, as clear as it is that nonprofits are an essential part of society, they do not always put their resources in areas that will yield sustainability and growth and instead spend funds only on immediate needs.  Yes, paying your bills is important.  But what’s even more critical is planning for the future.  What happens if you don’t have enough funds to run your program next year and have to close your doors?  What will happen to those you serve then?

This is a scary but very realistic situation for many nonprofit organizations.  I’ve seen it in more times than you can imagine…the brokenhearted program director who has twenty families who desperately need access to medical care or food, yet no money in their current operating budget to serve these individuals.  So often nonprofits reach out to a grant writer in times of crisis – with bills and debt looming in the not too far distance.

Grant writing is one of the most underfunded yet essential activities of running a successful nonprofit organization.  It’s not about the fast money, it’s about creating sustainability and growth for your organization.  It’s about forward thinking, strategic business planning, and creating a vision for your organization.  This is what will keep your doors open and your voices heard.  Instead of seeing grant writing and related activities as an additional expense, it must be seen as a key activity to sustain your organization for the long run.  Submitting one or two applications per year won’t get the job done.  Sure, you may get awarded – if you’re lucky.  But what happens when the money runs out? Or if the funder doesn’t fund you the following year?  

Investing in quality grant writing and development activities is equally as important as having a strong Executive Director or passionate Program Director to run your programs.  And believe it or not, it doesn’t have to cost as much as your think. 

A quick search on The US Department of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for a professional writer with a Bachelor’s Degree and no specialized training in grants or grant funding in the United States is $63,200[1]. Now, add in a bit of grant training and the numbers go up to an average of $68,560 per year including benefits, with the top earners making over $100,000 per year [2]

While these numbers may alarm you, hiring a full time grant writer gives us a baseline idea of expense. Hiring a consultant – someone outside of your organization – to work their magic may be a better – and more affordable – option.

“A woman with vision is unstoppable, a woman who is always increasing her skills multiplies. Along with passion this woman is undeniable.”
― Janna Cachola