Increasing your organization’s capacity to compete for grants can be a key strategy for expanding your income sources. Do you have the bandwidth to pursue opportunities and succeed? Finding the right grant writer – whether hiring internally or engaging outside help — can make all the difference.

Here are some key qualities to look for:

A Track Record of Success

First and foremost, seek out a grant writer with a proven track record of securing grants from various sources. This includes private foundations, as well as county, state, and federal sources. A successful grant writer should be able to share tangible results they have achieved, such as amount of funding secured and the impact the funding has had on the organization’s mission.

Knowledge of Fit with Funders

Understanding that alignment between your mission and the interests of potential funders is critical. A skilled grant writer should be able to assess whether your organization’s mission and programs track with a particular funder’s guidelines in terms of relevant criteria, which can include geography, thematic areas of interest, and organization size.

Proficiency in Reviewing Funders’ Fundamentals

Grant writers should be adept at analyzing a funder’s financials, such as their Form 990, to discern past giving patterns and preferences, notes Barbara Wille, Capacity Partners Partner Consultant. Additionally, they should be able to determine whether a funder accepts unsolicited proposals or if they require a prior relationship or a direct invitation. This knowledge can save time and resources by focusing efforts on the most promising opportunities. “Many funders are not open to unsolicited proposals, no matter what a great match you are with their interests,” says Wille.

Experience in Developing Essential Components

Crafting a compelling grant proposal requires more than just writing skills. A good grant writer is also a good project manager and collaborator. A proficient grant writer should be experienced in managing and pulling together essential components such as mission statements, organizational history, impact assessments, goals and objectives, and leadership profiles. Furthermore, they should understand the ancillary materials that sometimes are necessary for submissions, such as board lists, IRS documentation, and financial statements. They also must be able to work with those in your organization who can provide them.

Bringing In an Outsider’s Perspective

Hiring a grant writer who brings an outsider’s point of view can provide valuable insights into gaps in your narrative and presentation, notes Capacity Partners consultant Laura Apelbaum. They can offer fresh perspectives that you may overlook, ensuring that your proposal effectively communicates your organization’s strengths and potential impact while infusing new energy into the content of your submission. One strategy for managing your grant application development process is to develop your proposals internally and then bring in an outside consultant to give them a final review to give them a polish and vigor that can take them across the finish line.

 Ability To Elevate a Submission

A skilled grant writer goes beyond simply drafting text – they understand the importance of overall presentation. This includes strengthening the budget with explanatory notes, reworking tired narratives, and ensuring coherence and consistency throughout the proposal. Their expertise can elevate the quality of your submission and increase its chances of success.

In the competitive landscape of nonprofit grant writing, selecting the right grant writer is paramount to securing essential funding. By seeking professionals with a proven track record, a thorough understanding of funders’ interests, proficiency in financial analysis, and the ability to enhance presentation, organizations can maximize their chances of success.

Capacity Partners has a proven track record of providing successful grant writing assistance that has taken organizations to the next level. Read more here.