Most grant experts hate being asked for their win rate and here's why - because it's almost meaningless. Numerous factors contribute to the success or failure of a grant application to win funding and most have little to do with the people writing the grant or even the writing, itself. Here are some other ways to measure value when working with a grant expert.
Is proposal quality improving?
A good grant expert helping you write grant proposals should be able to elevate your proposal quality in the following ways:Economy - conveying just as much or more information with fewer wordsReadability - comprehension is easy and enjoyableStructure - the grant and its parts harmonize to convey a clear and complete pictureOptimization - choosing the best data and narrative elements to featureIf you're making progress in these ways, don't be discouraged by a few rejections. The work you're doing to move your proposal quality in the right direction is of value, and will likely translate to financial success in the future.
Are you applying for more grants?
Grant experts often help an organization to find good-fitting grant opportunities to apply for and they increase the organizations capacity to submit applications. In some respects, grantseeking is a numbers game and the more grants you apply for, the more money you're likely to win. Even grants that are unsuccessful but receive good feedback from the grantor are well-positioned to reapply in the following cycle, and have a much stronger likelihood of being selected for funding. If you were applying for one grant each month without your expert and now you're up to three grants each month, you're on the right track to build a robust grantseeking program for you organization.
Is your grantseeking well organized?
Are all your grant materials centrally located and easy to search? Can you view all your grants in one place to understand the status of your grantseeking program at any time? Assuming you've empowered your grant expert to help you streamline your grantseeking processes, they should be able to help you come up with ways to organize yourself in ways that save you time and minimize errors. I've had clients of mine go from routinely scrambling at the last minute to meet application deadlines they lost track of to a new norm where applications are always submitted days in advance of deadlines, leaving time for unforeseen hiccups that may arise.
Do you have more peace of mind?
Small business owners and nonprofit leaders have overwhelming workloads and responsibilities. Grantseeking, especially when the application is full of questions already answered a thousand times before, can be a painfully redundant and time-consuming process. Can you hand off a grant application to your trusted expert and know that it will get done on-time and with exceptional quality? A strong partnership like that is bound to bring value given enough time.
Are you making progress on your grantseeking journey?
Progress looks different depending on where you are in your grantseeking journey. If your organization is at the beginning of your grantseeking journey, winning your first few grants, for example, is a huge milestone, and a grant expert who helps you achieve that should be recognized for that success. For organizations in the middle stages of their journey, streamlining processes and applying to more and different types of grantors is an indicator of strong progress. For advanced grantseekers, growing existing grants into larger awards, and gaining support from national-level grantors constitutes progress.
Grants are awarded based on factors mostly outside of the control of grant experts and simplistic win rates don't even come close to telling the whole story. Evaluate your relationship with grant experts based on what is in your shared control to improve. As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.