Monday, August 2, 2010

Top Ten Fiscal Considerations for Grant Writing Consultants

When I went out on my own as a grant writing consultant eleven years or so back, I did some things right and some things carelessly. After completing my extended taxes yesterday, I was reminded of some key mistakes I’ve made regarding my taxes that I’ll share to inform you about pitfalls in case you are a new consultant or planning to go out on your own.

Now I realize that many people are more careful about money than I am, and some are less so. Take this advice for what it’s worth to you, and if you end up saying “well, duh!” to these suggestions, this post simply wasn’t written for you. It’s more for the remedial book keepers out there like I used to be.

Grant Writing Consultants TOP TEN FISCAL DO LIST:

1. Pay your quarterly taxes on time, and in full. (It’s so EASY to put it off and so costly to do so)
2. Hire a book keeper on an hourly rate to keep the books and remind you of all the stuff you don’t know is required in running a business. (You will cringe every time they come in the office, but it’s a good cringe, trust me.)
3. Photocopy every check you receive and staple it to the invoice that generated it. (Not everyone who pays you is as organized as they should be and you may need to refer to it later)
4. Keep a mileage journal for your car! (Miles add up so fast you will end up cheating yourself and at $0.55 per mile, it adds up very fast.)
5. Keep your receipts! (Keep every receipt for everything you buy or spend related to the business. I store mine in envelopes marked by the month.)
6. Be aware of opportunities to save costs – (If a large document needs copying, ask the client to do it; need postage, arrange for the client to mail it; need special software or online access ask the client to provide it as part of the contract even if you have to give it back at the end of the contract)
7. Invoice Promptly (Few clients pay promptly but you can do your part)
8. Follow Up on slow paying clients – (Gentle reminders about payment are not inappropriate.)
9. Use a written agreement or contract – (Always put it in writing or you’ll get burned, guaranteed.)
10. Pay your quarterly taxes on time, and in full. (Yes, I know it was number 1, it’s important enough to put in here twice!)

Those are my suggestions on keeping your fiscal house in order. Consulting is rewarding but what you don’t know can sink your business. So get the expertise you need before you step into some deep IRS, State, or Municipal fiscal sinkhole!


Anonymous said...

I am new to all this... so a question. If I don't pay my taxes quarterly, will I be penalized at the end of the year? Or is this a safeguard for myself, so that I "pay as I go" (so to speak) and don't get hit with a large tax bill at the end of the year?
- Lucy, New Jersey

Derek said...

Hi Lucy,

Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, you will be charged penalties and interest if you miss paying your quarterly taxes on time (been there, done that). It can really add up and the end of the year so be careful!

About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
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.