5 Reasons Why a Consultant May Be the Right Choice for You
When I worked as a grant writer in a nonprofit years ago, I thought to myself, “How could an outside grant writing consultant know what’s going on inside a nonprofit? A consultant couldn’t possibly be as passionate about our organization as I am. How could they effectively tell our story?” Well, after working for almost a decade as an independent consultant, I’ve learned there are many reasons why organizations should consider hiring a grant writing consultant instead of opting for an in-house employee. First, make sure your organization is grant ready. An excellent example of a grant readiness tool is the GRASP (Grant Readiness Assessment Strategy Prep). Next, consider these 5 things when looking to hire a consultant:
Experience - A seasoned consultant typically has much more experience writing grants, case statements, and/or fundraising appeals for all different types of agencies across multiple disciplines. The depth and breadth of their experience and exposure to various organizations and grant applications often outweighs someone with experience working for only one agency.
Cost - Consultants are typically issued a 1099 for their work, which means an agency does not have to shoulder the burden of paying for payroll taxes, benefits, space, computer equipment, subscriptions to grant databases, professional development, etc. Hiring a consultant may be a less expensive option for a cash-strapped nonprofit.
Professional Ethics – Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that scam others to make a quick buck. Any grant or fundraising professional who belongs to a professional organization typically signs a code of ethics. Consultants who are members of the Grants Professional Association (GPA) or the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)agree to follow a professional code of ethics. If a consultant isn’t a member of a professional organization, ask why.
Responsiveness – Consultants are often laser-focused on providing the best customer service for their clients (including responsiveness). We all want to be highly-respected in our field because our name means everything. When communicating with a consultant, make sure they respond in a timely manner while discussing your potential engagement/contract with them. If not, this could be an indicator of future difficulty in working with them or potentially being forced to submit grant applications at the last minute (or missing the deadline altogether!).
Track Record - Does the consultant have a successful track record of writing award-winning grant proposals? Ask. Quality, longevity, and successful outcomes matter.
Ultimately, each organization has to make a choice that’s right for them. Make sure to do your due diligence on whomever you decide to hire. But, before you post that job description and spend hours interviewing potential new employees, make sure to interview a few consultants too.
Kim Joyce, GPC, began her career in education and has been in the nonprofit sector first as a volunteer and then a professional for a total of over 20 years. She provides services in the areas of grant writing, grant coaching, grant writing training, and nonprofit capacity building. Her clients have included nonprofits providing services in the areas of health and human services, education, at-risk youth, homelessness, healthcare, and the arts, and also school districts, charter schools, faith-based organizations, and units of local government. Kim has assisted clients in receiving grant awards of more than $35 million. Kim is a Grant Professional Certified, and one of only 20 in the state of Arizona. Kim is also a member of the Grant Professionals Association, the GPA – Arizona Founding Chapter, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofit Leadership Council.