When is a good time to start thinking about grant funding for my organization?

Funders tend to prioritize organizations that have a good history of programming, a sound budget/financial plan, additional resources to leverage with any request, and data determining community need and organizational effectiveness. If your organization is missing any of these pieces, your proposal may be less competitive. It is also important that your organization truly understands the costs associated with applying for a grant opportunity and managing a grant award. When in doubt, we recommend speaking to the funder’s program officer about your program to assess whether they might be interested. If you have not received grants before, but other organizational pieces are in place, we recommend starting by applying for smaller, local awards and building a portfolio of successful projects that contribute to your strength as an applicant for larger awards. This process can take time, so be patient and expect some rejections along the way. If you feel like your organization has all the pieces above and internal assessment indicates that you are ready to invest time and resources into grant seeking, then you know it is a great time to start going after grants.


Is my organization eligible to receive grants?

The large majority of funders require applicants to be tax-exempt, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations or require applicants to apply through a fiscal sponsor (an organization that has tax-exempt status). To determine eligibility for specific grants, please read the eligibility criteria for the funder closely. Other entities that are often grant-eligible are public agencies and educational institutions.


What organizational materials do I need to apply for grants?

Each funder has their own guidelines and require different documents and information to apply. However, some of the most common documents required by funders include: Copy of the organization’s IRS Tax Exemption Letter; current financial statements; and the organization and/or program budget. You may also be asked for a board of directors list, an organizational chart, and key staff resumes.


Does The Grant Plant work outside of New Mexico?

Yes! We enjoy working with clients out-of-state. We firmly believe that working in other states helps us meet our mission to improve the quality of life in New Mexico. Working with clients outside of New Mexico gives us great opportunities for helping to facilitate regional and national collaborations, learning about the inspiring work happening around the country, learning about best practices that can affect our work at home, and more. Note that any travel requested on behalf of out-of-state clients is the responsibility of the client. We are happy to “meet” via online collaboration tools.


How do I know where to find funders for my organization or project?

There are many different sources for locating grant funds. The Foundation Center, Guidestar, Grants.gov, and the Federal Register are some of the most common. At The Grant Plant, we use a variety of methods to locate the most up-to-date funding sources. We distill those that are applicable to New Mexico into our online grants calendar. Check it out! You can even sign up to get funding alerts delivered to your inbox.


What can I expect from a grant-research project?

Grant research can be an effective use of your organization’s dollars if your organization is ready to start applying for grants but does not know where to begin looking. Our staff has significant experience, proprietary tools, and access to professional databases that detail funders and opportunities. Our resources are not available through online searches and we have the expertise to read between the lines of funder priorities to help you determine which opportunities will truly be a fit. The final research project is comprehensive and will typically include: (1) funders that are a strong fit for your organization, (2) funders that are a potential fit but might not be 100% aligned, and (3) funders that were determined to not be aligned with your organization for a variety of reasons (geographic affinity, eligibility requirements, program incompatibility). The number of matches for any given organization will vary. Just like we cannot guarantee funding when we craft a proposal, we cannot guarantee how many funders we will find that match your organization’s goals or will fund you. But, we will find the opportunities that are your best bet at the time the research is conducted. This can help you to focus your organizational resources effectively by targeting your strongest funding matches first.


If I contract with The Grant Plant, is grant funding guaranteed?

No. We try our best, but grant seeking is highly competitive.


What is The Grant Plant’s success rate?

Please keep in mind that success rates are often not the best indicator of a grant writer’s work for a variety of reasons; some grants hinge on a site visit process, other grants are based on pre-established relationships with members of the funding agency, and not all clients report the outcome of their proposals to grant writers. However, using data over the past 15 years on the well-over 100 proposals we submit annually, our success rate is 56% on proposals in which the outcomes have been reported to us (ranging from 45% – 65%) . The generally accepted national average is one in three proposals (30%), although the only report we have found is by the Grants Office and references  one in six proposals (17%). Over the past several years, average award sizes for our clients ranged from $129,000-$318,000. To date, The Grant Plant has written more than $130 million in funded proposals.


Is The Grant Plant paid on contingency?

No. Within the fundraising profession, it is considered unethical to be personally vested in the outcome of a grant proposal. We offer more information on this in our blog, grassroots. Planted. We do recognize that many nonprofit organizations pursue grant funding because their current or upcoming cash flow is insufficient, so we strive to keep our rates affordable for our clients. Please see the code of ethics for the Grant Professionals Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


Why aren’t you commission based?

Besides being against industry ethical standards, when contracting with The Grant Plant, your organization is paying for a well-crafted, highly-researched, and quality proposal. When it comes to award determinations, many factors come into play that are outside of a grant writer’s control, for instance, funder affinity, number of other proposals submitted to the funder, total dollars available for giving, etc. Our billing structure allows us to ensure that you have a team of experts dedicated to working on our project. While we wish we could guarantee funding for all of our clients all of the time, the one thing we can promise is high-quality and competitive work that positions your organization well and increases the likelihood of funding.


Help! I need funding to keep our program/organization going in the next 3-6 months! Can grants help fill this fiscal gap?

If you are looking for emergency funding to keep your organization or program going, grant funding is typically not the way to go. It is not uncommon for the process to take 8 months or more from the time you begin writing a proposal to when you see your first check. Some grants are reimbursement-based and require your organization to have cash in the bank to cover expenses. Earned income activities, fundraisers, and donor appeals are all typically much faster at providing emergency funding. Grants usually require a more strategic and long-term approach to be successful. It is ideal to cultivate a mixed income stream, which allows your organization to be more resilient. Some funders do have emergency grants available, which are usually reserved for their existing grantees.


What am I really getting when I contract with The Grant Plant for?

Unlike most independent grant writers, The Grant Plant utilizes a team approach. You are getting a highly-experienced group of individuals with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise who work as researchers, writers, and editors on your projects. We allocate our teams strengths to position your organization to be as competitive as possible and all work receives multiple review rounds to catch any issues prior to submitting. In the end, you get peace of mind knowing you are submitting the best possible work and your organization’s valuable staff time is freed up to focus on what truly matters, the important work you do in the community.


Are Tara and Erin twins?

Nope — but we are sisters and we do share the same birthday!