Working with a professional grant expert is a powerful way to improve your organization's grantseeking outcomes. Pros know where to find grant opportunities, they can help you organize your materials and optimize your processes, and they can elevate your organization's narrative so funders are moved to support your work. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right grant expert to work with.
Are you ready to apply for grants?
Grant experts do a whole lot more than just write grants. Many experts are skilled grant readiness coaches who bring grant applicants through a self-assessment process to ensure the applicant is ready to pursue and effectively deploy grant funding. If you're new to grantseeking, working with a coach is a very good way to begin. Aspects of readiness include having:clear and concise ways of explaining the work of the organization and its missionorganized financial accounting practices that explain how money is allocatedclear plans for tracking the outcomes of grant-funded programs.In just a few hours of work together, a skilled grant readiness coach can help an organization prepare itself for successful grantseeking.
Do you have other grants to draw language from?
The first grant is always the toughest and most time-consuming because you are coming up with the best way to efficiently and effectively describe your work. If you're hiring a grant expert at this stage, look for someone who has deep experience with your subject area and who you feel comfortable working with in a creative and iterative process. You'll be sharing lots of drafts and comments back and forth and may need to navigate differences of opinion. For example, you may feel it's very important to delve deeply into the origins of your mission, while your expert may believe that valuable space in your application should highlight your current projects instead. Be prepared to budget a bit more for this kind of work, which is worth it because this initial investment returns value over the long term as you reuse the language you develop for future grant applications.If you have a number of grants you've already written and your organization's narrative is well-established, you may want to consider finding an expert to work with who has experience with the specific grant or type of grant you're interested in. They'll be able to use your existing grant language and materials you provide them to tailor your grant application to a particular grantmaker or grant type they are familiar with.
Know your targets and budget beforehand.
If you don't know where to apply, you should strongly consider hiring a grant prospector to work with your organization to create a list of appropriate grant prospects. Knowing which grants you're interested in applying to can give you an idea of how many hours of work you may need, which can help you determine a budget for working with a grant expert. Grant prospectors can help you find grant opportunities much more efficiently than searching on your own because they have knowledge of the grant landscape and are often familiar with searching grants databases. Think of them almost like real estate agents who learn about the type of home you're looking for and then show you houses, as opposed to just driving around on your own looking for homes for sale.Once you have identified the right grants to go after, you can begin to estimate how much work will be required. A typical private foundation grant requires 15 to 20 hours to complete, while federal applications can require 100 hours or more. Share your scope of work and budget upfront so both parties can quickly determine if working together makes sense.Payment — grant experts generally do not accept payment plans and most consider it unethical to be paid by percentage of the grant award. Hiring a professional grant expert can costs between $30 and $200 per hour. Prices vary significantly by region, tenure, and type of grant. Simple grants (5 pages or fewer) may take up to 20 hours to research and complete. Complex capital and federal grants may take 100 hours or more to complete.
Look for alignment of expertise and grant type.
Another way to think of a grant expert is as a coach — if your organization is a hockey team, for example, a track and field coach could probably train your players in fitness and general competition, but the fit wouldn't be ideal for the nuances of your sport. Likewise with grant experts, you'll do best when working with someone who has experience with the core subject matter of your organization's work. Even better, try to work with an expert who not only has familiarity with your subject matter, but also with the specific grant you're applying for.Identify an expert who is familiar with your field, local area, or the population you serve.Ask to view samples of grants similar to yours. Don’t count them out if they don’t have a similar sample, as they may have examples that highlight transferable skills.If they're just getting started and don't have many grants under their belt yet, use your best judgement based on the quality of their writing samples and their level of professionalism.
Strive for lasting relationships.
A grant expert who cares about your organization and who can communicate effectively in its voice is an extremely valuable resource. As your programs and/or funders evolve, having this person on your team can make adjusting to these changes a much smoother process, which helps to avoid missing key funding opportunities. Someone who has worked with your organization over many grant cycles will have developed efficient processes and they are uniquely able to scan the grants landscape for potential opportunities that are a good fit for your organization.
There are tens of thousands of freelance grant experts out there, and the key is to find the ones with the experience and expertise you need. Our database connects you with the best experts who specialize in everything from education grants, arts & culture grants, health care grants, and more. Grantable is here to help you find the perfect match for your needs so you can focus on what matters most!