Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Learn When to Say "No!"

Non-profit consultant and grant writing expert, Derek Link, shares some thoughts on risk taking and when to say "no" to a client:

Grant writers who make a living doing freelance work take a big risk in doing so. It’s also tough because the nature of grant making, especially in poor economic conditions, is highly competitive. Your reputation can be injured with a client if the grant you’ve written fails to get funded; so, it’s important to know when to say “No, thanks” to a grant writing contract.

Not all grant clients are created equal, in each grant competition, some clients are more likely to be funded than others. This fact means you need to have a full understanding of the grant writing opportunities presented to you in terms of:
  1. Funding Levels – How much money is available in a particular competition? If it’s a national competition and there’s only 12 grants available, it’s important to consider how qualified your client is in other areas.
  2. Geographic Distribution – If your client is rural and the funding source only allocates a small percentage of the funding toward rural projects, then it’s important to look at other considerations to estimate likelihood of writing a successful proposal.
  3. Demographic Preferences – If your client serves only English fluent adults and the funding agency has a preference for funding programs serving immigrants who speak a foreign language, then it’s important to look at other factors to consider the likelihood of funding.
  4. Organization Preferences – If your client is a public agency and the funder previously has shown a strong preference for community-based organizations, then it’s important to consider as you evaluate their “fundability”. Maybe there is a CBO that can apply with your client as a partner, or maybe your client just needs a CBO partner to be a viable applicant.
  5. Program Preferences – This is the old round peg in a square hole thing. If your client is trying to stretch the truth, or if they are trying for funding that clearly is outside of what you know the funder wants to give grants for, then you need to be very honest with the client about that.
Free lance grant writing is a tough business and the financial risk of running your own business is always a little scary. But saying "No" to a client who is clearly a bad candidate for a particular grant is thousands of times better than saying "Yes," taking their money, then having to explain why the grant wasn’t funded. Protect your reputation as a grant writer by learning to say "No" when you have to.

Related Posts:

Are You a Risk Taker?

How Competitive is TOO Competitive?


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Jessica Adkisson said...

THANK YOU!! This post is absolutely right on target for where I am right now!! Thanks for this encouraging post - I have a couple of projects I need to say no to today. :)

Veronica Robbins said...

Thanks, Jessica! It's something I need to be reminded about, too. I want to say 'yes' to everybody, but that leads to overcommitment, and then nobody wins.

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Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.