To Hire or Not To Hire a Grant Writer
Updated: Jul 2
(I may not be Shakespeare, but I do have some great lines every now and then.)
It seems like we are getting tons of requests along the lines of, "My organization wants to seek grants, but we aren't sure if we should hire a professional grant writer." As a business owner, I should say, "You do want to hire one, specifically me!". However, as a person who wants to help make the world a better place, I'm writing a post with some thinking points for you to consider if you do need to hire a professional.
You're Playing Whack-a-Mole
Hiring a professional grant writer allows you to focus on your daily activities, so you can keep serving those in need. If you are playing whack-a-mole all day long and finding that you don't have the time you thought you did to research a new opportunity because you were feeding hungry babies, hiring a professional may free up your bandwidth.
You Want to Focus on Your Strengths
If you already have someone on staff who writes grants and they have been successful, hiring a writer allows you to focus on your organization's strengths. Additionally, what an outside writer can do is research opportunities your writer on staff did not have the capacity to seek. You don’t ever have to worry about any one person being stretched too thin when there is someone (or a whole firm) assisting in your fundraising goals. We have a couple clients who have full time staff dedicated to grants management, and they still contract with Sharpshooter because we are able to pick up some slack to free them up to write extensive grants (or do the brunt work of larger grants). One client in particular has a gift when it comes to managing large grants and coordinating with multiple departments to knock out federal grants. That is truly her strength. We are able to support her strengths and the organization by managing the deadlines and knocking out smaller (and still very important) grants.
Let me tell you from experience, many federal grants are all hands on deck, and it is so easy for other, vital grants to fall through the cracks.
Federal Grants are a Beast
If you have written a federal grant or even read the RFP of one you'd know just how intense they are. I felt compelled to make this its own category because federal grants are really their own beast. Grant writing requires a lot of attention to detail, and a federal grant requires even more. Having another person in your corner who is familiar with your organization and with federal grants making the daunting task of a federal grant more manageable. Additionally, when you are wrapped up in a federal grant, other foundational grant deadlines are still there. Reports are still due. If you find yourself wishing you had a helping hand, I would urge you to consider contracting a grant writer.
You Want to Grow
If you have won the same grant every year for many years, it may be time for you to think outside-of-the-box and go for grants that are larger, or maybe from a different funder. Our Point Report is intentionally designed to target funders that may be new-to-you and help your organization stretch. Constantly, we have to worry about diversifying our revenue streams, foundations changing their priorities, pandemics disrupting funding timelines... Having a resource like an outside grant writer (and perhaps the Point Report) could give your organization invaluable insight to growing your foundational and corporate funding partners.
You Want an Outside (and Inside) Eye
One of the slightly obvious benefits of hiring a grant writer is having an outside eye to review your case statements and materials. However, one not-so-obvious benefit is that oftentimes the grant writer you're hiring have access to reviewer notes from foundations, have inside information about a funder they have gathered from working on previous grants and have wisdom from seeking grants from particular funders you may be interested in. I cannot count the number of times I've learned invaluable information from a funder's process that I was then able to share with my clients - and it made all the difference.
At the end of the day, you know what is best for your organization, budget and way of working. Just like with the infamous "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Hamlet, only you can decide to hire or not to hire a grant writer. However, I do hope this post can answer some questions and provide clarity.