November 20, 2013

TGP Year in Review: Client Results and our own Small Business Impact

As we do each year, below is our report on TGP’s prior year of work, as well as some reflections on our experience as a small business. I’m proud to say we are wrapping up our 10th year!

Reflections on Running the Business of TGP

We’ve found New Mexico to be very friendly to small businesses. Beyond our out-of-the-gate questions like ‘How do we set this up again? Where do we go? What forms do we fill out?,’ it has not been difficult. In terms of paperwork, the most difficult thing was hiring our first full-time employee after using a contractor-only model. This was followed by trying to get QuickBooks to behave, and setting up retirement fund deductions. A major plus of being a small business in New Mexico is that folks here are used to working with small businesses, and credit small businesses for the role they play in the economy and community.

If I had to pick our greatest challenge, it is the tension of balancing two client-valued qualities: capacity and expertise to take on a wide variety of projects versus desires to keep our rates as affordable as we can. When we started TGP, it was just Erin and me, a lean and mean cost model! Then as the business grew, we began adding contractors, and as TGP grew more—and our services broadened—it became clear we needed to hire team members as true employees. This helped us build the structure needed for a growing business and the model needed to attract and retain quality team members.

This evolution also comes with the infrastructure costs that our clients are well familiar with like offices, employee benefits, technology needs, paid time off, professional services to manage accounting and other needs, retirement accounts, and incentives to reward our team for their work. Growth also involves an increasing cost specific to for-profit businesses: tax responsibilities. We all want good schools and roads, social services, libraries, and the societal infrastructure for businesses and nonprofits to operate—but our taxes are truly the hardest – and the largest – checks to write! Another challenge has been finding any type of small business health care option that actually makes sense for a small business.

We work to offer a quality service at a reasonable price, but the more we expand our team to serve client needs, the greater our expenses. In order to stay in business, we have to pass that cost along to our clients. To justify the cost, we have to ensure that we offer first-rate expertise and service. This requires a first-rate team, so back to the foundation: employment. We take pains to be cognizant of the whole picture of our small business and of financial challenges our clients faces as well—with the bottom line being a solid return on investment for our clients.

The “Return on Investment” for 2012  

I am very appreciative to our clients, who do the amazing work that we have the pleasure to highlight to funders and the community. Together, we shared the following achievements:

2012 Core Results:

  • Funding awarded: $3,328,303
  • Average grant size: $72,354
  • Proposals: 97 grants submitted with 50 awarded (52% success rate)
  • Funder accountability: 18 funder reports submitted
  • Prospecting: 8 funder research projects completed
  • Average return on investment: $7.27 secured for every client dollar paid

2012 Economic Contributions:

  • Federal and state taxes from TGP: $86,326
  • Organizations supported: 13
  • TGP jobs created/sustained: 7 employees, 2 retained subcontractors, and several on-demand subcontractors.
  • Client jobs created/sustained (estimated): Grants to our nonprofit clients created or sustained 43 jobs in 2012 (and 411 jobs since 2003!); the indirect impact on jobs of proposals we have written is even higher.[1]

2012 Enterprise Tidbits:

  • Consulting service areas provided: 9 – grant writing, grant research, best practices in philanthropy, individual fundraising, technical writing, data analysis, evaluation, reporting, and grants management.
  • Client sectors represented: 9 – arts and culture, economic development, education, healthcare, philanthropy, policy, social services, youth development, and other.
  • Philanthropic funds contributed by TGP to local nonprofits: $8,565.
  • TGP team: 9 team members – 1 with two master’s degrees, 3 with master’s degrees, 1 with graduate studies, all with bachelor’s degrees.

Reflections on a Decade

We started The Grant Plant with the idea of helping New Mexico nonprofit agencies add capacity to run ambitious grant seeking operations without hiring staff or incurring costly overhead personnel expenses. That way, these community groups can focus on delivering their core missions and services. With TGP, you get a highly-experienced team of good sports and hard workers. Our approach – wherein staff are not left to flounder, quality is assured, camaraderie is vital, and fun is valued – means that we raise the level of the work produced so that it is better than what any individual could produce on his or her own. Our track record of quality work inspires client loyalty, which has enabled us to grow in sync with our clients, to contribute to the culture and well-being of people throughout New Mexico, and to foster connections between clients as part of larger community efforts to improve New Mexico’s standard of living.

We have big dreams, big ideas, bold plans, and bold people who can make it happen—we’ve come a long way and we still have spring in our step! I don’t know what 2014 will hold for us as a small business, but I am looking forward to our 11th year of helping incredible nonprofit agencies make a positive difference for New Mexicans. TGP has survived because of collective determination – both on our part and on the part of our clients. Thank you for letting us be a part of your organization, and thank you for being a part of ours.

[1] Economic Impacts of 2010 Grantmaking on the US Economy, sponsored by The Philanthropic Collaborative. The study was conducted by Steven Peterson, Clinical Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Idaho and Benjamin Fujii, Research Assistant, University of Idaho and completed in November 2012


Contact: Tara Gohr, President/CEO,

This post was filed under: