Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
NEW NONPROFITS, FOR-PROFITS, BUSINESSES
WORK OUTSIDE COLORADO
BUYING A BUILDING OR LAND
RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSALS
There are many reasons why a grant proposal is funded:
1) The funder is familiar with the nonprofit, and likes the work they do.
2) The organization has a history of success, and can demonstrate that it has made an impact.
3) The organization applying for the grant has developed an innovative, exciting project.
4) The organization has a strong business model, including a strategic plan, a fund-raising plan, and diversified funding.
5) The organization's financial statements document that the organization is in a strong financial position, and spends money efficiently.
6) Staff from the organization have cultivated personal connections with a foundation or company's staff ahead of a grant submission.
7) The organization submits a strong grant proposal.
In other words, it takes more than just writing a strong grant proposal to obtain funding. You will typically be competing for limited funds with hundreds of other organizations. To be successful, a proposal writer needs a great product to sell. Your organization should first take the time to plan a great program, develop an effective management structure, and demonstrate that you can be successful before seeking grant funding.
See our tool for information on key questions to ask before pursuing grant funding.
For another take on this, go to "Is Your Nonprofit Ready to Apply for a Foundation Grant?"
It depends. For establish nonprofits, we typically turn around grant propsals in two to three weeks. For newer organizations or first-time grant applicants, it can take longer. Most funders require financial statements, such as an annual budget, year-end financial statements, and/or year-to-date financial statements. Many ask questions related to your business plan. What's your three to five year strategic plan? What's your long-term fund-raising plan? How will you measure the success of your proposal? These might take a newer nonprofit a couple of weeks to plan and pull together. Once your organization is clear on these types of issues, we can turn around a proposal very quickly.
The other issue here, though, is grant deadlines. Each funder establishes deadlines for proposals, and may only have one or two deadlines per year. Most funders take about three to five months to respond to a grant request.
TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS WE HELP
Do you work for new nonprofit organizations?
We typically do not work for brand new nonprofits with no track record for the reasons identified above. We recommend developing your grassroots fundraising strategies - donations from individuals, small businesses, fund-raising events - before seeking grant funding.
There are exceptions to this rule, but most organizations that are brand new are not likely to immediately be competitive for grant funding. Grantors typically want to see some evidence that your organization is making an impact. They also want to see how effectively you are building a strong and active board of directors, creating and managing budgets, carrying out quality control, and more. This can take time to demonstrate.
Do you work for organizations outside of Colorado?
We work primarily in Colorado and southern California (see our sister website here). We have extensive familiarity with these geographic areas, including the funding climate, the landscape of grantors, and regional needs and resources.
We will occasionally provide one-time services to an out-of-state organization, but typically only work on large foundation, state or federal grants for large or mid-size organizations or institutions.
Outside of scholarships, typically there is not much funding for individuals. Acclaimed artists, research scientists, and university professors obtain grant funding all the time. In the charitable arena, however, individuals rarely are eligible to apply for grant funding.
There are no grants available to start or expand a business. There's some funding for high-technology innovations. On rare occasions, some funders allow for-profit businesses that provide a charitable service to apply for grant funding.
We regularly help faith-based organizations find grants for charitable purposes, such as running a homeless shelter, operating a food bank, and providing healthcare services.
However, we do not have the expertise or knowledge to help organizations that are pursuing grant funding for religious purposes.
Do you work for organizations based in other countries?
No. We lack the expertise related to the fund-raising strategies, legal requirement and culture of organizations that are not based inside the United States.
Do you work for international organizations based in the United States?
We typically do not work for international organizations. The challenge for international organizations is more than writing the grant proposal: it's getting face or telephone time with a prospective funder. Because grants made to international organizations are harder to monitor, international grantors are often more cautious about their grantmaking process.
BUYING A BUILDING OR LAND
Most private foundations want a nonprofit organization to raise between 50% and 75% of funds for a major capital project before they will consider a grant request. In other words, they want organizations to show that they have strong community support and financial backers before determining whether or not they will support your project. A capital campaign is a long process with a number of phases; for more details, see our capital campaign newsletter.
RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSALS
We develop proposals that incorporate a research component, such as a tobacco education project designed to reduce teen smoking. We do not work on project that have a pure scientific research component, such as experimental trials of medical treatments. If what you do can be explained in layman's terms, we can help you with your project. If it's more complicated and involves a lot of hard science, we probably will not be able to gain the scientific knowledge and expertise needed to write a strong proposal.
What do you charge to write a proposal?
We provide flat rate pricing on the total cost of your job. Each funding source develops their own grant guidelines, and requirements vary widely. Our flat rate to develop a grant proposal in the Colorado common grant format typically is in the $1200 to $1500 range. More complex proposals are more costly. We do provide some discounts if you already have some materials in hand. If you have a specific funding opportunity in mind, send us the grant guidelines and we'll provide you with a bid.
Do you work on commission?
We do not work on commission. We follow the Association for Fund-Raising Professionals code of ethics, which states that fund-raising professionals should not work on commission. Also, the decision to fund a grant proposal is based on many factors outside of the proposal writer's control.