Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Outsource or hire an internal grant writer?

Naturally, we at Arrowhead Management are biased, as our services include outsourced grant writing!

But, here are a few things to think about as you decide whether to outsource or not.

Hire Outside
Any one of these alone is enough to justify hiring an outsider:
  • You’re not eligible for many grants. You may need to hire us to know that :), but seriously. Your organization may be terrific, but you may receive too much government funding to be eligible for many. Or, your operating budget is under $500K.  Or, you’re new (under 5 years old).
  • The few grants you can apply to are concentrated at the time of your gala and your staff is simply stretched.
  • You really don’t have enough money to hire someone full-time or even part-time, but you have some funds. Hiring an outsider for some time is a way to scale up to a full-time grants person, if there are enough grants.
  • Sure, you could add grants to an existing employee’s plate, but is s/he really qualified? If s/he messes up, what’s the ramification?
  • Are you between full-time staff?
  • You have a full-time grant writer but you have a bottleneck of several grants due on the same day/within a couple weeks.
  • If you’re applying for a complex government grant and you’ve never done government grants (and no one on your staff has). Trust us, every dotted I matters. It’s a waste of your time to apply if you’ve never done it before and you actually have other responsibilities for the three months leading up to the grant (oh, we kid. You’ll only have 6 weeks for government grants). Hire an expert in government grants.

An outside grant writer won’t solve your internal organizational failings.
A well-written proposal won’t compensate for the 30% of board members not giving. 

You’re noticing the incessant reference to 100% of boards giving - because it’s what we see and hear in too many nonprofits.

Hire an employee
Some reasons to hire an employee:
  • You have a consistent flow of grant submissions and grant reports.
  • Your part-time grant person is drowning and you’re missing grant opportunities because s/he is already working overtime. 
  • Your budget is somewhere around $5MM and at least 10% comes from grants.
  • You have a terrific communications person working part-time who wants to work full-time. You don’t have enough communications work for him/her. Send him/her to a couple grant writing classes and get him/her to spend some time with programs.
  • You have some communications work that isn’t getting done and if you hired a full-time person who can do 50% grants and 50% communications, you’ll be set.
  • Your average grant is $50K and you receive at least 4 such grants a year…not including the numerous $5K grants coming your way.
  • Your mission involves education.