Grantwriters’ #1 Problem and What to Do About It

My mother's advice just doesn't work!


Why don't you work ahead__ (

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 .  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!

How Can A Big Grant Be “Game-Changer”?

Despite the fact that government funding


CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO WATCH THE VIDEO:  Grantwriting 2 Minutes at a Time:  Game Changers

“Despite the fact that government funding has been hit hard, federal grants are still available and can be ‘game changers’ for nonprofits and their clients.” What do I mean by “game changers”? Well, it’s a matter of money. If you can get a million dollars or more over the course of three or five years, you are going to be affecting your organization immensely. And, really, what’s more important than that is the fact that you’re going to be affecting clients.

If you have a grant for 1 million dollars, over four years, that is $250,000 a year. I know organizations that have gotten grants of that size and they’re able to use innovative, evidence-based practices to change the lives of dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of clients over the course of that four year period. It’s astounding!

So, if you think about, you take someone who is an addicted homeless person and you get them off the streets and you get them clean and sober, what impact does that have on their lives? That’s a game changer. And if you multiply that by 50 or 60 people, think about the impact that has. THAT’S a game changer, not only for the individuals but also for the organization. They’re able to ramp up everything that they’re doing. They’re able to collect data and with that data they are able to go on to other organizations, foundations, and the public and say “Look, we have done an excellent job. We change people’s lives. Help us be the game changer that we’ve become.”

I’d like to invite you to download “10 Million-dollar Secrets from Master Grantwriters” from . This report will help you learn how to get more funding for your nonprofit and get one of those million-dollar grants for yourself.

Richard Hoefer
Excellence for Nonprofits

P.S. Post in the comments how a million-dollar grant would be a game changer for YOUR organization!

Grantwriting 2 Minutes at a Time: Excellence

A video series for grantwriters and nonprofit managers

Click on the video below.  Be sure to share this video to your social channels!

11+ Skills for Grantwriters that May Surprise You

Current Grantwriters Share Their Thoughts

01 Grantwriting is a skill

Current grantwriters love to help new grantwriters.  They are willing to share their thoughts and ideas about all things grantwriting.  Active grantwriters have been sharing with me their answers to questions about many different topics.  I want to share what I’ve learned from them.   This post looks at “What skills do grantwriters need?”

Grantwriters shared the most important skills they think that grantwriters need to be successful.  Here are a few of the surprising results!

  • Humility, insatiable curiosity, and absolute dedication to improving your community.
  • You have to be okay with delayed gratification, because you may write a grant and may not hear from them for six months.
  • You also have to be okay with someone telling you, “No,” You have to learn you won’t get them all.
  • You also learn how to target your grants better so that a lot of the work is already done by the time you’re writing the grant.
  • I’m continually learning things, because the climate changes; you know we’ve had changes and the economy affects grants a lot. Politics affects grants a lot; policy and that sort of thing. You’re constantly learning.
  • An ability to design a program and to look at it from start to completion is a skill. I think one of the skill sets is to be intimately involved with the programming part of the organization so you can write from a place of knowledge.
  • A clear understanding of evaluative tools, evidence based evaluation and outcomes.
  • Some financial knowledge.
  • A really good mastery of community need, because when you’re submitting grants, you’re going to have to know the community from which you are submitting the grant. Local data, as well as national data …
  • You always kind of want to give a really good story.

What’s interesting to me is that the “most important skills” that are described by these grantwriters are not the things that most people think of before they become grantwriters.  These skills are not just the ones you find in textbooks.  What makes for a successful grantwriting career includes not only what you learn in a class or workshop, but also includes character traits like perseverance, willingness to fail and  to keep learning, relationship-building, and strong desire to serve others.

Without the basics, you won’t write successful grants.  But without the correct attitude, you won’t write successful grants for long.