The growing need for a nonprofit grant consultant is more clear than ever as nonprofits rely heavily on securing grants to fund the programs and initiatives that serve our communities. Grant writing services for nonprofit organizations are often handled by staff that have many other responsibilities as well. A grant writing consultant can work with existing staff to maximize the chances of success. Inhouse grant writers can also benefit from a grant consultant to build the necessary tracking and reporting skills to ensure success.
What is a Nonprofit Grant Consultant?
A nonprofit grant consultant reviews the organization’s mission and finds grants that fit the mission. An outsourced grant consultant will also work with staff to make current grant applications align with funding requirements. A consultant can review, edit, and make suggestions to increase the chances of submitting a successful grant application.
What is Grant Management?
Grant management for nonprofits requires skill, time, and experience. Every grant comes with funder expectations for reporting, tracking of expenditures and program outcomes. Restrictions may also be placed on what the funds may be expended on. Tracking and reporting expenditures, properly allocating funds to allowed expenses, as well as measuring and evaluating program outcomes fall under the purview of grant management.
What Does a Nonprofit Grant Consultant Provide?
One of the critical functions of a nonprofit grant consultant is in strategizing funding support for specific initiatives and programs. A grant consultants experience with Federal, State, and private or corporate foundations can be an invaluable asset to a nonprofit that is struggling to secure grant funding, or would like to increase their grant success rate. It takes a well written, compelling grant application that is closely aligned with a funders social investment priorities to stand out from the many, many grant applications that funders receive each year. A grant consultant can be the difference between an application that is merely adequate and one that rises to the top and is awarded funding. A grant consulting firm can provide many options for scope and type of service to help with grant writing for nonprofits.
Nonprofit grant consultants provide multilevel support for the grant process:
To write a competitive application for funding, a grant writer must understand the organization’s programs, goals, and mission. The grant writing process requires skillful management of narrative, word count, budget information, as well as close adherence to funder guidelines. The grant consultant can be a thought partner and resource for your in-house grant writer or provide stand alone grant writing services.
- Researching the available grants that align with the nonprofit’s mission
- Monitoring due dates for the applications
- Gathering the necessary information to draft the application
- Drafting the strongest application prossible
Grant makers’ decisions are based on the strength of the written grant application and supporting documents. A strong, well written application that adheres to the funders application guidelines is imperative. Also critical is matching agency mission with a funder’s philanthropic priorities. This is the piece that many organizations miss. Submitting grant applications in a scattershot approach wastes time and resources and is rarely successful. Knowing this, a grant consultant can be a valuable addition to your grant writing strategy.
There are three types of grants available to nonprofits:
Federal Grants: Federal grants are highly competitive, with as few as five US agencies awarded grants from tens of thousands of nonprofits nationwide. Federal grant writers are valuable to a nonprofit and possess the needed skills and knowledge to navigate the application process.
State Grants: New York State grant website is cumbersome and somewhat challenging to a novice grant writer. State grant application systems vary by State and require a grant writer with intimate knowledge of the system to be successful.
Private and Corporate Foundations: These grants are more straightforward, but generally limited to the interests and focus areas of the foundations trustees, corporate culture, philanthropic interests or geographical area. Building the relationship between your organization and the grantor is paramount.
For any grant, application deadlines are critical. An experienced grant consultant will be well-versed in managing the grant writing process to meet submission deadlines.
It is a rare funder that does not require reporting on grant expenditures and program or project outcomes. Funders want to know that their investment has had an impact. As mentioned, financial reports are required in conjunction with program goals. How did you do? Did you meet your goals and the program goals? How have you managed the funds, and was the program successful? What are the outcomes? How did you measure it?
Often, the grant consultant plays a role at various stages of the grant process:
- Advise, review, or create the financial goals of the nonprofit.
- Communicate with the organization’s legal and accounting firms if the information is needed during the grant writing process.
- Train and conduct internal workshops on budgeting, fund development, and financial management.
- Strategic planning to include goal development and stakeholder engagement.
- Outreach and communication to develop the organization’s community presence and increase engagement through messaging and activities.
Should your nonprofit hire a grant consultant?
Just as a small business owner cannot successfully wear multiple hats, a nonprofit Executive Director is also challenged with time-consuming roles. However, the value and importance of securing grants requires time, attention, and, most important, skill and experience. For these reasons, a grant consultant may be a good investment. Hiring a grant consultant does not have to be expensive or all-consuming
- An outsourced grant consultant can be engaged on an as-needed basis
- It is what they do! You are hiring someone engaged and ready to help your organization at the top of their game.
- A grant consultant has only your best interest in mind. They help you understand your goals, fine-tune your strategies, and get the funding you need to succeed.
Still not sure if you need a grant consultant? Contact our Director of Nonprofit Services, Katie Stair
About Capital CFO+
Capital CFO+ LLC is based in Saratoga Springs, New York, providing bookkeeping, accounting, and CFO services. Capital CFO+ helps small firms access the economies of scale, efficiency, and expertise that large companies enjoy. Visit Pearl, our branch manager at capitalcfollc.com, or LinkedIn for more information.