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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Grant-seeking essentials: Your checklist before investing in a nonprofit grant writer

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Are you a nonprofit organization hoping to secure funding to advance your mission and projects? I mean, who isn’t? If you answered yes, you've likely contemplated hiring a grant writer to navigate the intricate landscape of grant applications. However, before taking that step, evaluating your organization's readiness for grants is crucial. In this guide, we'll delve into the key considerations you should address before hiring an expert grant writer.

Understanding grant readiness

The term “grant readiness” encompasses the preparedness of a nonprofit to pursue and manage grant funding effectively. While a proficient grant writer is indispensable, it's equally vital to ensure that your organization possesses the requisite infrastructure, capability, and readiness to embark on grant opportunities.

Mission, vision, and value clarity

Ensure your organization has a clearly defined mission statement aligning with the goals and priorities of potential funders. Grantmakers seek to support organizations with a robust sense of purpose and direction.

Organizational capacity

Evaluate your organization's ability to handle grant funding, including administrative capacities, financial management systems, and programming. Grantmakers will ask for evidence of your capability to efficiently execute and financially sustain proposed projects.

Track record

Highlight past successes and achievements, such as previous grant awards, successful projects, and measurable outcomes. Demonstrating a track record of impact and accountability enhances your credibility with potential funders.

Collaborative partnerships

Explore collaborative opportunities with other organizations, community groups, and stakeholders. Collaborative endeavors can boost grant applications and amplify the likelihood of success.

Essential preparations

Make sure that you've completed these items first before engaging a grant writer:

  • Regulatory compliance: Ensure full compliance with federal and state/local regulations.
  • Financial tracking system: Have a financial tracking system that works; QuickBooks is a common choice (and discounted for nonprofits through TechSoup).
  • Organizational documentation: Prepare an organization chart and compile a list of board members with details like their annual giving pledges, affiliations, race/ethnicity, and more.
  • Online presence: Establish a website or, at a minimum, a Facebook page. Be sure to have a donation page set up.
  • Visual identity: Have a logo ready that represents your organization.
  • Budgets: Have a basic organizational and program budget ready; approved by your Board and reviewed at least annually.
  • Strategic plan: Have a strategic plan with SMART goals that can be referenced by your grant writer. Often, grant writers can help you with creating a Strategic or Annual plan if needed. 
  • Policies: Have established bylaws and policies, including Conflict of Interest, Anti-Discrimination, Gift Acceptance, and Social Media policies.

The role of a grant writer

A skillful grant writer can significantly strengthen your organization's funding endeavors by crafting compelling proposals and navigating the complexities of the application process. When, hiring an individual grant writer or agency, be sure to do your due diligence. Things you should look for in a grant writer when you are grant ready include:

Qualifications and experience

Find a grant writer with relevant experience in your organization's field or sector, along with a proven track record in securing grant funding. Strong writing skills, attention to detail, and familiarity with grant application procedures are essential.

Alignment with organizational values

Ensure the grant writer understands and aligns with your organization's mission, values, and objectives. Effective collaboration necessitates a shared vision and commitment to your organizational goals.

Clear communication and expectations

Establish transparent communication channels and articulate clear expectations from the outset. Define the scope of work, timelines, and deliverables to foster a productive and proactive working relationship.

Before engaging a nonprofit grant writer, you should first conduct a thorough assessment of your organization's readiness to pursue grant funding. By ensuring clarity of mission, robust organizational capacity, and a proven track record, you enhance your appeal to potential funders and are less likely to spend money on a gamble. Moreover, select a grant writer possessing the requisite skills, experience, and values alignment to facilitate your funding goals. With thorough preparation and the right support, your organization can unlock opportunities for growth and impact through grant funding!

Alex Aryaan is a results-driven nonprofit strategist, boasting $6.73 million in grants secured for early-stage nonprofits in 2023. A member of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Alex is currently pursuing CFRE certification while working as a freelance grant writer and strategist, serving on two nonprofit boards, and also teaching at ASU. With a Master's in Urban Planning & Policy and a BA in Sociology, Alex blends her expertise in strategy, funding, and problem solving, excelling in challenging nonprofit environments.

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Alex Aryaan


ASU Lodestar Center Blog