Updated: Jul 20
When you're passionate about your nonprofit's mission, it's easy to think grant funders are going to immediately jump on board with you. But grant writing is more than just needing money. Of the 1.5 million charitable organizations in the United States, I'd imagine there are very few, if any, that don't need money. Your job, as a grant writer, is to do your due diligence and prepare your nonprofit to submit high-quality, competitive proposals.
So to help you on your way to getting funded requests, let's bust some myths! Here are 7 misunderstandings that many new grant writers have that may prevent you from getting awarded requests.
Anybody who can write well can submit a winning grant proposal. Grant writing is an art and a science. While exceptional writing skills are absolutely expected, you have to understand the nuances of grant writing and fundraising to be successful with proposal drafting. This is where hiring a professional pays off. You can certainly learn from experience, but a professional grant writer will understand how to craft your message in the most appealing and donation-inspiring way.
Grant administrators are scary. So, listen. I get it. Cold calling of any kind can be intimidating. There are two significant tasks under the scope of a grant administrator's job description that benefit you, the grant writer: a grant administrator can provide you with real-time feedback about the interests of the review committee and he or she can save you (and in turn the review committee) the time of submitting an application that doesn't make it past an inbox. Need help with what to say when they answer your call? Click here to read our blog post and get your free downloadable script.
Our nonprofit just got our IRS designation. The grants are going to come pouring in! Nope. Well, highly unlikely. Most funders want to know that your organization can effectively manage its programs, is making a difference in the world, and is efficient and responsible with other funding. You can't just promise those things will happen. You need time to prove that you're a worthy investment. In most cases, that's going to be at least 2-3 years.
We can use the grant funds for whatever we want whenever we want. As a grant recipient, you are responsible for using the funds for the purpose described in your grant proposal. In some cases, you may be able to adjust that purpose if you can back it up with solid reasons why. But you need to contact the funder before making any shifts in spending. Think you can skip that step? Think again. I worked for a nonprofit that had to return tens of thousands of dollars because they spent the grant on something other than what it was requested to support.
We're struggling financially. We just need one, big grant to get us over the hump. Grant writing is a marathon and not a sprint. Requesting grant funds for the first time should never be your first tactic for increased revenue when your nonprofit is struggling financially. Grants take time to cultivate, research, create proposals, submit, wait on deadlines and review committees, get a response, and receive the funds. Similar to individual major gift fundraising, grants can take months to get a response. You are much better off investing your time cultivating and engaging individual donors or launching a small campaign when your nonprofit has tightened its belt.
We exist; therefore there are grant funds available for our nonprofit. Grant funding ebbs and flows. There is no black-and-white, yes-or-no when it comes to grant writing. Remember when so many funders shifted their interests to COVID-19 response in March and April of 2020? Government grants and private and corporate funders can be responsive to current events and can shift their areas of support pretty easily. This may mean a potential influx of opportunities for your organization, but it may also mean a drought for others. When you work with a professional grant writer, he or she can let you know what the funding climate is like for organizations and needs like yours before you invest time and resources into grant writing.
Most grant requests are funded. In 2020, there were 900 federal grant programs offered by 26 different agencies. In December 2019, there were 119,791 private and community foundations in the US. The same year, there were 1,729,101 nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS. You don't have to be a math wizard to see how competitive grant writing is when there is more than 14 times the number of nonprofits versus foundations. To believe the myth that most grant requests are funded will lead you down a very disappointing road. Regardless of your skills and experience, about 20-30% of all grant requests are funded (depending on who you ask or how you Google search that statistic). That means that only 2-3 out of every 10 applications you submit may be funded. Having a strategy for grant writing that complements your overall campaign and not relying solely on grant awards as your only source of income are critical elements of successful nonprofit fundraising.
Need a professional grant writer to help your nonprofit take its fundraising strategy to the next level? Just Write Grants can be your nonprofit's virtual grant writer, providing high-quality proposals, research, and submissions based on more than a decade of experience and multiple millions of dollars of grant funds secured.
To learn more about Just Write Grants and our affordable grant writing subscriptions and get 30 minutes of free custom grant research, click here or call 1-866-7GRANTS to speak to a grant expert today.