When I was in college, I once told my mother how busy I was and what the work demands were. Like mothers everywhere, she wanted to help, so she gave me the following advice:
“Why don’t you just work ahead a little bit every day?”
“Thanks, what a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?” was my unspoken thought.
When grantwriters tell me what their #1 challenge is, there’s sort of a similar dynamic—I’m told over and over again, that the most difficult challenge is that there’s never enough time in the day to research the grant opportunities from government and foundations, develop relationships with potential funders, research needs in the community, find evidence-based solutions to propose, work with program staff to ensure the plans made are realistic, coordinate budgets with the financial people in the agency, write the actual proposal, submit it on time, and do this on top of their other work.
I’m curious why this happens, but I definitely don’t ask them “Why don’t you work ahead?”
What I do ask, though, is what they do when the work can be crushing and the tendency to abandon “self-care” is strong.
Here are some of the actual responses I’ve received:
- “I schedule my work in blocks of time.”
- “Better time management.”
- “Working a lot.”
- “I carve out time weekend days to write grants.”
- “Better communication as to why it is in their interest to give me the information I need.”
- “Spending more personal time on grantwriting.”
These are short-term solutions, at best, as are many more that I hear. But so often, it sounds like they’re just telling themselves to “work ahead”.
When this doesn’t work, it may lead to another case of grantwriter burnout, like the grantwriter who said “I’ve basically given up.” Or the one who admitted “I’m looking for another job.”
Other grantwriters tell me a different story, one that sounds more hopeful, and one that pulls in resources beyond just themselves.
- “I work more closely with my CEO/mentor.”
- “To talk with the different people to generate ideas.”
Sometimes, grantwriters have no one else in their organization to turn to for mentorship, or they feel that they don’t want to be vulnerable in asking for help from within their organization.
I’ve been in that spot, and I know how valuable it can be to have someone to talk ideas over with, or seek counsel from, or just get a fresh perspective from. Even this can be hard to do, if you don’t have anyone you trust to be objective and knowledgeable.
You may not have ever thought to hire someone to be that person who coaches and mentors you, who can give you a clear critique of a current draft of a proposal, or just help you with information you might not know.
I could be that person for you, just as I have with many others.
Not forever, not for the long term, not even for very many hours. But just enough to let you relax and talk over a few ideas, and to help you get over a particular stumbling block.
You don’t need a lot of help, or very often. But you may need it now as grant season heats up again (as it always does in the Spring).
Aren’t you tired of facing the grind and the #1 challenge of grantwriters all on your own?
The fee is affordable and well-worth the hope and help you’ll receive.
If this is something you’d like to consider, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll set up a time to see if what I can do is what you need doing. If not, no harm done.
Write to set up a time to chat—there’s nothing to lose and possibly lots to gain: your peace of mind, a burden shared, burnout avoided, and, possibly, thousands or even millions of dollars for your organization.
What’s YOUR #1 challenge as a grantwriter or nonprofit executive? Write and share!