Grants Myths and Urban Legends w/ Hisham Ali Bob

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April 20, 2023

Last Updated:

July 6, 2023

If you've ever been frustrated by the grant writing process, you're not alone. There are many misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding grant writing that can make it seem daunting or even impossible. But don't worry - we're here to help you separate fact from fiction and give you the tools you need to succeed.

​During this webinar, we'll cover best practices for effective grant writing that are backed by research and proven results. We'll also provide practical strategies for crafting compelling grant proposals that effectively communicate your organization's mission, objectives, and impact.

​Whether you're new to grant writing or a seasoned pro, this webinar will empower you to overcome common barriers to successful grant funding. By the end of the session, you'll be better prepared to navigate the grant writing process and secure funding for your organization's initiatives. Plus, we're excited to introduce you to Instrumentl - a powerful platform that saves you time and money by finding, tracking, and managing your grants all in one place.

Takeaways by the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar:

  • Common misconceptions/falsehoods surrounding grant writing, as well as best practices for effective grant writing that are backed by research and proven results!
  • ​Practical tools and strategies to craft compelling grant proposals that effectively communicate their organization's mission, objectives, and impact. Most importantly, attendees will be empowered to overcome common barriers to successful grant funding!
  • ​Ultimately, attendees will leave the workshop better prepared to navigate the grant writing process and secure funding for their organizations' initiatives!
  • ​How Instrumentl saves you time and money in finding, tracking and managing your grants all in one place.

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Hisham Ali Bob is a tri-lingual community leader who comes to Mockingbird with ten years experience preventing violence and fundraising for a range of causes to improve the human condition. Hisham began working in Oakland, California as a volunteer to prevent gun violence and since then has worked at nonprofit organizations at the staff, manager and board level and prides himself on "walking the talk" when it comes to helping community organizations do their work. In addition to his nonprofit work, Hisham has worked in local government to support nonprofit organizations working in domestic violence prevention and workforce development. A Sudanese-American, Hisham is a strategic thinker with a track-record of creating empowering engagement opportunities for community stakeholders, elected officials and business professionals. His prevention work has come to focus on building authentic relationships with grassroots and grasstops minority-led nonprofit organizations diligently crafting the solution to their community's problems and to serve as a bridge to the world of traditional philanthropy. Hisham approaches his work from a place of intense curiosity and practices robust self-care. When not working, Hisham enjoys playing basketball, long distance running and visiting new playgrounds with his wife and son.

Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.

Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.

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Grants Myths and Urban Legends w/ Hisham Ali Bob - Grant Training Transcription

Hisham: …few skills in terms of program development along the way. And I've been with Mockingbird for just about half a year. And I've really loved the atmosphere and the great work that we're able to do.

So, our agenda for today is that you're going to hear a little bit of information about Mockingbird Analytics background. We're going to get into the meat and potatoes of today's presentation, which is the Grant Myths and Legends. And then at the end, we will have a little bit of time for questions and answers.

So, a bit of information about Mockingbird Analytics. So, our mission is to help nonprofits tell their stories for sustainable growth and for measurable impact. And since our founding about eight years ago by our founder, Jessica Payne, who's here today, we have been able to do just that. So, Jessica started Mockingbird with a wealth of experience in educational research in nonprofit evaluation, and a wealth of experience in government social programs in the Southern California, Los Angeles area.

And throughout our time, since Mockingbird’s founding, we've been able to add quite a few services in terms of grant writing in the form of our grants team led by Dr. Avril Deterring. And we've got a wonderful research and impact evaluation unit led by Dr. Hillel Savala. And we have quite a few individuals on staff who specialize in CRM Database Administration, or Wizardry, for those of you that don't speak CRM.

And so, we're going to present a number of myths today. And we'd like all of you to stay engaged. And we'll be asking processing questions to help you before and after the questions. So, Dionna, if you could please put poll question number one into the chat. So, we're going to ask all of you to fire up your emoji engine and really engage your creativity. All of these questions will be answerable and encouraged to be answered by emoji.

So, this first one. This first one is about how would you describe the level of effort required to secure grant funding? Is it easy like a rocket ship taking off? Is it a little bit harder, but doable, challenging? Or those of you that have no clue, feel free to be honest. And we hope to answer all of these questions today.

So, Myth #1 is that grants are free money, easy money. It grows on trees. Right? So, this is a quote that I've actually heard quite a bit. Grants are like winning the lottery. All you have to do is apply, put it in an application, and the money just rolls in. So, this is false. Every grant pretty much, regardless of origin, comes with fine print with terms and conditions, either in the grant proposal itself that what you said you would spend the money on or after the grant is awarded. And in the grant agreement itself, there's quite a bit of terms and conditions that you need to abide by.

So, I think a way to think about this is grants are for reimbursing your personal expenditures or for an event that has already been put on. So, very much not free money. And it is really important to carefully note how you're spending that money and to have a certain account for grant money and not commingled funds, because that can lead to issues.

So we're going to go to question two. Dionna, if you could please put poll question two. I'm seeing quite a few amazing emojis. Let's keep going. So Myth #2 is that there is a grant season. This is actually another quote that I'll attribute to someone anonymously. But we can't apply for grants right now. It's not grant season. So, there is a mistaken belief that grants only happen at a certain time of the year. And I think both fortunately and unfortunately, grants come in all shapes. They have deadlines that are convenient, that are inconvenient. They can be due the day before holiday. They could be due on your birthday, on the day of your daughter's piano recital, what have you, and every day in between. So each foundation or grantmaker has its own calendar that they've set, either based on the fiscal year that they follow or just the deadlines that they need to set internally.

So that being said, there is a corporate giving season. And that's usually in the beginning of the calendar year. So, January and February tend to be very heavy with corporate giving. And for individuals, that tends to be concentrated in the tail end of the calendar year towards the holiday season. So in November, December, you start to see individuals feeling the giving spirit or seeing that their yearly budget for charitable contributions is maybe a bit bigger than they thought. And so, we tend to see individuals pile up their contributions towards the tail end of the year.

Why don't we put poll question three into the chat? Please. Wonderful. So Myth #3, I like to refer to as the Lord of the Rings myth, right, that there's one grant proposal to rule them all and that you have to find it. So this, I hear fairly often, let's just focus our energy. Let's write one good grants one goodie, and then we can just shop it out to as many funders as humanly possible. So not only is this false, this risks damaging your good name. It is smart to create boilerplate language and templates. But I think that the idea that you can just wholesale, take one proposal, and Ctrl V into a different proposal to a different funder is mistaken. And I think that that could backfire.

Oftentimes, proposals contain highly specified language or a good deal of personalization that has had to take place to make it aligned with the funding priorities of that specific funder. So, it's never a good idea to just send them out, right? Like, it takes quite a bit of personalization for each funder.

If we could put a poll question four if it exists into the chat, please? Let me just check on all of you in the chat. Very healthy use of emojis. I appreciate this.

Let's go ahead to Myth #4. So, a lot of writing here. But I think for the individuals in the room, you've undoubtedly heard this before. Grants are an immediate solution to our money problems. They're just a money shower that will come and solve all of our problems. We can finally breathe a sigh of relief. So, I like to think of grants like a very big boomerang that it takes quite a bit of like lag time before they can come back, and you'll hear the result or certainly see any money.

So, grants are not instant. They are a long-term investment. It can seem like a waiting game. I think that the grant process can take up to 18 months from when you submit the first LOI or a letter of inquiry to when you have to write the last progress report. And it is never a good idea to rely on grants for financial stability because you don't necessarily have control over when the award will go out. If you're dealing with a large bureaucratic entity, like a city or a county, it may take quite a bit of time before the money can find its way into your coffers.

And I think lastly, most funders want to get a look at your finances. They want to get a sense of your fiscal hygiene, so to speak, and in your practices. And if it looks like you are either not compliant or financially looking close to death, funders are not likely to choose you.

And I think the last point I'd like to make about this is for organizations that apply for a grant that is a sizable percentage of their organization's budget, I think that that's usually not a good time. We're going to talk about this later in the presentation. But it's very important for organizations not to become overly reliant on just one source of funding. But more about that later.

And I believe -- well, question number five maybe in order? Thank you very much. Okay. So, to what degree can you change your program to fit the funders goals? Individuals in Instagram I'm sure have been at the juncture where there's a tantalizing part of funding. But it may not quite fit what your organization does.

So, this is our next myth. The myth is that you can just model your program after whatever the grant maker wants if you're awarded. Right? So, this is a fallacy for a number of reasons. If the funding goes away, you may be stuck with a program that didn't necessarily fit your mission and values. And it's pretty much reliant on this funder’s generosity to award you. So, it is really important to avoid mission creep. And that mission creep is like when you walk into Target to buy shampoo, and you end up with teddy bears for your niece, right? You did not go in there for that. Make sure to stick to what your mission describes.

Next myth. So, this is a really big one and presents a lot of ethical concerns. And I hear this fairly often, which is concerning. But I don't have to pay the grant writer upfront. I can pay them a percentage of the grant that they've won. Right? Once we intend of -- once we receive it, I can either give them some sort of commission or a success fee or -- I've heard it described in a lot of different ways. But let me put this one to rest. This is categorically false. A grant writer is giving their labor, right?

And it's important to pay for their time, regardless of the outcome of the grant. It's also critical to spend a grant’s money in the way that you said you would spend it. So if you did not write a grant writer into the proposal, then it is not ethical to pay a grant writer from that proposal. And at Mockingbird Analytics, we tend to rely heavily on the Grant Professionals Association. And we use their code of ethics as sort of an ethical bedrock for us to evaluate our work. So, the grant Professionals Association explicitly prohibits members from accepting commission style payments. And it's for a number of reasons. It's a very slippery slope if you have someone incentivized by the idea of a bonus.

I think to preview the next question, I think we might want to do poll question seven. Thank you. So poll question number seven is about the next myth. How can you involve other people into the grant writing process to improve your proposal and to increase your chances of securing funding? I’m seeing some good answers. Very few emojis, but a lot of letter C. And I think you all maybe are jumping.

So, the myth here is that I have to write this proposal myself. I think that a lot of people in nonprofit leadership are go-getters, Type As, they are used to getting the job done themselves. But as a grant writer, your realm of responsibility is not to prepare the statement of cash flows. It's not to prepare all the financial goodies that will be necessary. And you're certainly not in charge of the programs for the organization. So, it is critical to reach out and to lean on others in the organization. The individuals who have the information you need, you will need to liaison with them.

So, grant writing is like raising a child, right? It takes a village to write a grant. And I think that it is important to involve others in the process to make sure that the proposal is as strong and effective as possible. So, you are all in this together. And grant writers have to do quite a bit of coordination and reminding and nudging, and all the good stuff. I think we can do poll question eight.

Okay. So, we don't have a poll question eight. No problem. It's like a skyscraper. There's no eighth floor. And that's okay. Let's go on to Myth #8, which is, I’d like to think of this as like the fallacy of the undergrad, right, who's got a deadline at 10am and decides to wake up at 5am and just started that day. So, anybody who has done this? And I'm sure a number of the individuals in this room have done a last-minute proposal. It is an agonizing feeling. It does not feel good to be up against a deadline. You've got 1500 words left to write, and an hour to write them. Right? So, it can feel like your hair is on fire, like the walls are melting, insert metaphor here, right? So if you value your sense of peace, do not do this. There are professionals that you can reach out to in order to get their help, and not to be in the situation.

But again, I think that we've all been faced with this last-minute deadline. But we can agree that it does not produce the best work. It tends to lead to generic or hastily prepared proposals that may not hit the mark. And so, I just can't over stress. Start early, work on it often, collaborate as early as possible, and please don't get into a situation where you're writing a grant and scrambling to turn it in.

I think there is a poll question nine. Let's try. Wonderful. Thank you. So, how can smaller organizations -- I'm sure that a number of you in here today are leading smaller organizations or are a part of smaller organizations.

Wonderful. Wonderful. We got some creativity. Let's go to Myth #9. So, the myth is that only big prestigious storied institutions or organizations get grant money. And this is false for a number of reasons. Thankfully. There are a lot of foundations that are specifically looking for smaller agencies, smaller nonprofit. And it doesn't seem like that because when you are part of an emerging organization, it feels like a tiny ship that is in a harbour next to these giant freighters. And while that imagery may -- it may feel like that. Oftentimes, funders are specifically looking for organizations under a certain budget side. They're looking to diversify the types of organizations that they're funding and working with. And so oftentimes, smaller organizations will be funded. And so, it is -- there is no organization that's too small to get funded.

And I think relevant to the resource that we have to give you all after today's webinar, Mockingbird Analytics has a pre-grant checklist with all the buckets that you need to have, or to the paperwork, the different ins and outs. And as long as you are able to check off all the boxes on that pre-grant checklist, you stand a nonzero chance of winning, of being awarded. So, oftentimes -- we'll get into this later. Organizations will find that funding that they've gotten year after year may just up and disappear. And sometimes, it's because of shifting priorities, new leadership for these fund makers. And a lot of times, they're looking to kind of shake up the ranks of who they are funding.

Is there a poll question 10? Okay. Great. Glad I remember that. So Myth #10 is kind of near and dear probably to a lot of you. I certainly -- the phone wasn't ringing off the hook, but I certainly got a lot of contact from folks I haven't spoken to in a long time about these glittering, very shiny funding opportunities that seem too good to be true. Right? So this -- a certain billionaire philanthropist, Mackenzie Scott, just put out the yield-giving open call. And we all certainly got a bit excited.

But I think that it's important to examine these sorts of high profile opportunities with quite a bit of scrutiny, with a bit of scepticism. There should be -- you should be clear-eyed that this is -- the pool is going to be saturated. Right? Everyone wants to jump in and swim in that water, right, because it's such a large platform and so many folks have heard about it. So, there's certainly a fine print in terms of who can apply. Not all organizations that want to apply will be able to apply. And so, I'm not sure if any of you have heard about this opportunity. But feel free to engage in the chat if you heard about it or what your thoughts are. And I certainly can sympathize with some of these comments.

But again, I think for every MacKenzie Scott open call, there are 5 to 10 funding opportunities that fit your organization that you would be -- it would be best to spend your time pursuing those. So Myth #11, is that smaller grant -- they're smaller and must be easier to get than a large grant. And this is mysteriously false. Right? So, sometimes small grants require just as much time, which really begs the question is this the best use of your time? So, it's very important to give yourself time to research deeply, to have a discussion with anybody that you can bounce ideas off of, to find out if this is worth your time. Right?

And there's also quite a bit of requirements post award that a small grant may turn into 85% of the effort that you'll need to spend on a large grant. And so, it's really about evaluating each opportunity and comparing it to other opportunities and picking what's best for your personnel, the amount of people power that you can put behind pursuing a grant needs to be taken into consideration.

And I think we have poll question 12. If we can go ahead and get folks engaged with that? I love this. Yeah. Is the juice worth the squeeze? I love that. I love that. I honestly can't remember the last time I squeezed any juice. But let's go ahead and go to Myth 12.

So, I may have mentioned this earlier. But there is a myth that grants are reliable -- it's stable. Once I win the grant, I will be awarded next cycle, done deal. So, this is false. This is -- grant should be thought of as a supplemental source of funding, but never should be your only source.

And most grants are what you would call restricted, which means you can only spend the money on the budget that you submitted and was approved by the funder. So, it's not free money that you can just spend on whatever just because those needs have been presented. So, it is really important to think of like a braided funding model for an organization. And by braided, I mean I realize I've got a bald head. But once upon a time I had braids. And for funding, this involves weaving together different sources to make sure that if you do lose one, if there is a shakeup at a foundation or with a funder, that you still have other sources of funding.

It is a kick in the stomach for organizations that may have had a very stable government contract, or whatnot. And then all of a sudden, things have changed, priorities have shifted. So, it's very important to diversify.

I think there's a poll question 13. Pretty sure they're wonderful. I just want to say this is a this is an active group. I appreciate everyone. Big no. Okay. So, what is the best way to seek feedback after rejection, according to this presentation so far? Do you want to wait for the funder to reach out to you and offer feedback? Should you review it? Send them a follow up and say, “Hey, this is how we could have done better.” It's tempting to cry like a baby. I can't tell you how tempted I am.

But this, I tend to think of this myth like the seventh grade middle school dance myth, right? If you ask someone to dance in seventh grade at the dance and they reject you, chances of you asking someone else are very low, right? There's a mix of embarrassment and shame. And was it me?

So, the reason this is a myth is because funders actually look favourably upon organizations that ask for feedback. And oftentimes, they're looking for growth, right, from one funding cycle to the next. And so unless, obviously, a funder has specifically asked you, “Do not apply, you are not a fit,” you should definitely consider applying again. And there's definitely an art to it to politely reaching out to ask for feedback, to ask, touch base, and to figure out where could you have done better.

We have a client who applied to a certain funding source five times and was rejected five times before they were awarded on the sixth time. So, that took quite a bit of persistence. But now thankfully, they've been funded. And it's actually led to new doors being opened, which is great.

I think there's a poll question 14. Let me see. Wonderful. Thank goodness. We can use poll questions 14. Oh, and for those of you that don't have like an emoji keyboard or if you're -- you can just copy the symbol and paste it if you actually do those emojis. But which of the following is true about foundation funding during tough times? So we're thinking about like a negative macro economic outlook, right? Do foundations batten down the hatches and practice austerity measures like some of us might, right, as individuals?

So, it's a myth to believe that foundations just shut their doors during a recession or during a downturn. And it's for a number of reasons, right? Foundations-

Sorry about that. So, it's a myth. And the reason why is because foundations and funders, they're led by people, right? They’re people too. Oftentimes, they are supporting a number of organizations that are very close to the ground. And so foundations, funders, in a way they have their ears to the streets. One of my mentors is a president of a medium-sized foundation. And she makes sure to check in with all of your organizations that have even applied, right, even the ones that aren't being funded. And it's because that's sort of her way of developing insight into what's happening underground. And just maintaining alignment between what the foundation's mission is and what the individuals who are applying are experiencing.

So, there are tax code stipulations that require foundations to give out a certain percentage of their assets. And I think that that percentage varies. But I've seen 5%. I don't know if that's quite uniform. But I believe it's section 4942 of the Internal Revenue Code. And it’s about taxes on failure to distribute income. So if a foundation has, let's say, $40 million in assets and they give out 5% of that, that's about $2 million dollars. So, that's enough. That's quite a bit. That's an effort 20 organizations to get funding of $100,000, which all of us can agree is quite a bit for a nonprofit organization.

And then, I think, Myth #15. We've got a poll question for, if we could insert that. Wonderful. And I do see a lot of these questions, which I would like to take time to answer. But the question is how easy is it to secure grant? I'm seeing a lot of these. I love it. I love it. Let's move on to 15. So, Myth 15 is that there are EV grants out there that are just waiting to be picked up, right? I hear the phrase, low hanging fruit. And I never actually see low-hanging fruit. I take walks all the time. And all the fruit is always super high. But this is false.

So the notion of low-hanging fruit is a fallacy because unless you have like an intimately close relationship with the foundation or unless they approach you to say, “Hey, we'd like to fund you,” nothing is guaranteed. Right? I think that a quality grant writer, and certainly the grants team here at Mockingbird Analytics, has a list of foundations that they've worked with often whose funding area of focus may overlap with your mission or your values. But the equation for grant making is so long and so complicated that there are no slam dunks. Right? So, it's always very important to scrutinize any sort of guarantee that you're given. And we're actually going to get into that in terms of red flags.

And actually, let's move ahead and look at red flags. So when putting together this presentation, I thought, “Wow, these red flags could certainly apply to just regular non grant writing human beings.” But for the purposes of this presentation, these red flags are for grant writers.

So, the first red flag is inflexibility. If you are dealing with a grant writer who is not willing to adapt to your organization's specific needs or to incorporate feedback or to consider any sort of guidance they’ve been given, that grant writer may not be effective for your organization. And I think I'm going to leave it at that. But rigidity is just not an asset when it comes to grant writing. I think there's a certain amount of constructive feedback that needs to be a part of the process. And it will just take some adaptation.

The second red flag is overpromising results. This goes back to Myth #15. So, please be aware of grant writers who make guarantees, “Oh, I guarantee you funding.” Again, the equation to decide on a grant being awarded is very long and complicated. And any unrealistic promises about the outcome should be scrutinized and met with a mountain of salt, for sure.

The third red flag, which may be the most glaring red flag here, is poor time management. A lot of grant writers are juggling a lot of things. But when we're talking about a grant writer who is missing deadlines or struggling to prioritize half, that will jeopardize your chance of being awarded. Right? It leads to this fifth red flag, which is rush proposals. But the fourth red flag is the lack of curiosity. And this is very closely related the inflexibility. This is maybe a refusal to ask questions or not asking the right questions.

You need a grant writer to be truly invested to show interest in what makes your organization tic, and to ask questions. So, without asking those questions and without being curious to dig deep and to look around your website and to see which kind of feedback loops are not closed, that's going to lead to a poor outcome. So, we really need a grant writer to be curious.

And the next red flag is going to be rushed proposals. So, that's kind of been a theme for this presentation is not waiting until the last minute to write a grant. And also, choosing not to work with a grant writer who consistently find themselves in a position where they are rushing to get a deadline met. So this leads to a generic proposal, a vague proposal, something that's hastily written. And again, this can go back to not putting your best foot forward and can -- not ruin your good name, but it certainly is not going to bolster your reputation to be putting out less than awesome proposals.

And then the last red flag is inability to handle rejection. And I think that this is very closely tied to the myth about, “Oh, once I get rejected, I don't need to follow up.” It's actually a pro tip to follow up. That is the probably the number one way to improve your chances with that funder and to help the organization secure funding for that proposed idea. So, you need to come in with a fair amount of acceptance that, “Hey, I'm doing my best work.” But there's a nonzero chance that this will get rejected. So, it's very important to be cautious. If you see grant writers that are blaming others or not willing to learn from an unsuccessful attempt, that's a red flag and should be met with scrutiny and a little bit of alarm, frankly.

So conversely, we've got red flags and then we've got green checkboxes. So, there are encouraging signs when you need a grant writer if you get a sense that they have communication skills, or a willingness to communicate. It's essential when you have a relationship with a grant writer that they are dealing with you with transparency, that they're open. If there's any sort of hiding the ball or not clear communication, that's likely to lead to a negative outcome. So, you want clarification when you ask the question. If they don't have the answer, you want a grant writer that will look under the proper rock to find you the answers.

And then the second encouraging sign is tailored proposals. This is a very good time. This is like shopping for a suit, right? You want a bespoke proposal that fits your organization. And that's going to require a fair bit of customization, a bit of personalizing to what your mission, vision, and values are. And the beauty of a tailored proposal is that it demonstrates alignment, which funders love. And it maximizes the chances of impact. Right? So, a tailored proposal will clearly demonstrate. If you find us, this is the good that will result. So, I can't overstate the value of a tailored proposal. I mean, it really is like having a suit that's been measured to your body.

The third encouraging sign is knowledge of funding sources. It is so reassuring, when you meet a grant writer and they understand, like the nuances between different types of funding when they have experience applying to certain foundations, that is a plus. It gives them the know-how on how to navigate federal funding versus private. And I think a good grant writer requires a fair bit of prospect research. So being able to identify appropriate and timely funding sources and to be able to look broadly, I think a good grant writer will ask you, “Where have you looked? Do you have a prospect list that I can take a look at?” Just to sort of eliminate any double work that needs to be done. Fourth, collaboration. So, a lot of these encouraging signs are just kind of polar opposite of the red flag. But collaboration is really the name of the game. And this goes back to when it takes a village to write a grant.

And a good grant writer will engage in effective teamwork, and really knows how to cultivate positive relationships. It can't be overstated. I think a good grant writer will make themselves a seamless part of the team and be able to sort of fit in and won't feel shy about asking different members of the team for appropriate information.

So, the fifth encouraging sign is really about avoiding that “wall is melting” moment when the deadline is coming and we're not ready. So, you want a grant writer to be working proactively and to move upstream to identify funding opportunities, and also to assist in evaluating the programs that are offered and identifying opportunities for expansion where it would be relevant.

And then lastly, I think a truly high quality grant writer -- and this is one of the things that distinguish the grants team at Mockingbird Analytics. We offer quite a bit of post-award support. Right? Winning the award is only a third of the battle. Right? I think the grant management side, the grant report, the progress report, all the deliverables along the way. And then, obviously, the final report, that requires ongoing assistance. And so, a quality grant writer will hold your hand through the writing process and afterward. And I think that that may look different. It may look differently based on the specific funding opportunity and based on your organization.

So, I think that the last part of this is that a grant writer, a quality grant writer, can assist with the implementation of the actual programs, right? They can help tailor program offerings compared to the grant proposal, what we said we would do, what does that look like on the ground, there's been a shakeup. So, maybe that work needs to be reimagined. But we would like to stay in compliance with the grant. So, a good grant writer is able to sort of affixed that additional lens to the monocle, so to speak, and to help with implementation.

So next, what we'd like to leave you all with, and I am going to wrap up soon, is just a handful of resources. The first of which, we rely pretty heavily on the Grant Professional Association. Not only for an ethical framework that we can use, but also to pinpoint our work. They give explicit guidelines on how work should be done for grant writers. And we’re able to sort of hold up this standard and make sure that we're doing all our hard work with integrity and respecting the individuals that are doing the work.

For number two, it's really important. I think, in this field, it's important to distinguish yourself to continuously be trying to improve the quality of what it is you're able to bring to the table. And the certification, a grant professional certification can certainly do that. So, it's from the Grant Professional Certification Institute. It's grant We encourage you all to visit. And I think the richest resource that we have for you today is Mockingbird’s blog. And that's actually on our website and on LinkedIn, actually. But with a lot of rich resources, we generate content fairly often and do our best to keep up a steady stream of learnings that we can spread to our clients, to the folks that are in our orbit. And I really encourage you all to follow us on our blog.

And then the last resource is the Nonprofit Management School on Teachable. So, this is for leaders. This is for folks that are in direct service for a nonprofit organization. And it's, again, about having professional development, a certification. And Teachable is certainly a very rich resource for that.

I think, lastly, I will end on these three learning takeaways that I'd like for all of you. One, grants are not free money. You can get in trouble if you are not careful and are keeping all of your money in one pocket, so to speak. So, make sure to do a fair bit of homework to figure out how we can handle this money appropriately and pay the respect and the attention that it deserves and make sure not to get ourselves into trouble, because I've seen that.

And then number two, this isn't Lord of the Rings. There's not one proposal to rule them all. That being said, Boilerplate is useful. It will save you time. But it will need quite a bit of its own makeup before it's stage ready. And then last is that grant writing is a specialized skill. Certain individuals have certain tastes, right? Some people look at large blocks of text and just see a blank, right? Get it away from me. I don't want to do it. Right? And for those folks, I think that it's important to seek out a professional, to seek out an organization with a reputation and a track record, and to be able to be effective and to help you raise the funds that you need to bring the services to the individuals that need them.

So, there are people out there. I joke all the time with our grants team that you all are grant people. And you want to bring a grant to grant people. Right? So, I really encourage all of you to follow up either with me personally or with our organization. And you can do that by sending an email to [email protected] engaging with us at our website or on LinkedIn. And we're also on Instagram.

So, I think as a final reminder, for those of you that haven't set up your 14-day trial on Instrumentl, please do so using this link. And make sure to use the code Mockingbird 50 in order to save $50 off your first month. And we hope that this has been useful for you all.

So with that, I will pass this back to Dionna to take it away.

Awesome. Thank you so much, Hisham. So, we're kind of running out of time right now. And I want to make sure we have time to do our Q&A. And so, folks can ask your questions and really soak up all the knowledge that you are bringing to the table and sharing with us today. So rather than doing a demo, I'm going to skip past this.

Please feel free to sign up using the link that we popped in the chat. I'm also going to pop in a link to our best practices page in Instrumentl, if you want to see some videos there that do a quick demo as well.

With that, if you want to move to the next slide, I would love to wrap up by going over our freebies for today. And, yeah, next slide, Hisham, if you're able to click over. There we go. Perfect.

So as a thank you for everyone for joining today, we have two freebies that are really awesome that everyone gets for participating. We're giving away our 10 best lessons from 10 grant writing experts' guides and then Mockingbird’s pre-grant checklist. All you have to do to get access to these awesome resources is fill out this link that I'm checking or popping in the chat right now. It should take you no more than two to three minutes to fill out. And you'll get those directly to your email. So, please feel free to really make use of those awesome resources.

And if you enjoy this workshop where we do them periodically here in Instrumentl, and our next one is next Wednesday on April 26th. And it's Government Grants 101: 5 Steps for Getting Government Grant Ready with Patrice Davis. And I will also drop in our calendar so you can sign up for those.

But with that, if we want to move to the next slide, Hisham, let's open it up to questions. If you have any questions, please pop them in the chat. And then I'm going to go just in chronological order and read those out to Hisham to answer. We have about four minutes for questions, so. We’ll wait for the first one to come through.


Hisham: I’m actually going to invite -- 

Dionna: Oh, sorry, Hisham. Go ahead.

Hisham: I was going to say, I'm going to invite Jessica Payne to come off of mute and to help me answer this question.

Dionna: Awesome. Perfect. It looks like we got our first one actually from Harry. What are the typical costs to hire a grant writer?

Hisham: Great question. I think I may -- Jessica, I may ask you to jump in for this one. But I would say that you can look at hiring an individual grant writer. You can look at retaining an organization that has grant writers, and just having them on retainer. Right? So, it really depends on your personal tastes, the funding availability that you have to even pay a grant writer. So if you can afford $50 an hour, 40 hours a week, then so be it.

But I think that there's a lot of value in working with an organization that has a team of grant writers because where one grant writer may drain, a team is more likely to have skills that can sort of make up for the shortcomings of any one individual.

But, Jessica, I probably left something out.

Jessica: Yeah. I mean, I think all grant writing, consulting agencies and individuals structure things differently. And individual rates vary wildly from -- I've seen as low as $50 an hour. Our rate runs between 120 and 170, depending on the types of grants that people are asking us to do.

Obviously, government grants are way more difficult. You're going to pay more for that time. It takes a lot more expertise. But generally, there's two different ways that we work with our clients. And that's on either a project basis. And usually, that means somebody comes to us saying, “I want help with this one grant.” And then we give you an estimate and say, “We think it's going to take 40 hours,” then we'll do the work and then charge you for whatever time it actually does take.

We also work on what we call a retainer where our clients designate us up front. We want to work together X number of hours per month. And then during that time, we work on whatever the priorities are around grants. So, we let our clients sort of set the budget there. And then it's consistent month over month, so it gets easier to budget.

Dionna: Fantastic. That is a super great insight.

Moving right along to our next question, and potentially our last one, because we're coming up right on the hour. Eliza has asked, how would you suggest facilitating cross team collaboration in the grant writing process in a small team when everyone is already juggling so much on their plate?

Hisham: Yeah, I think that's always a delicate issue. Everyone's busy. How can we get everyone under one roof to work on one issue? But I think that it's important to try and designate one person that is sort of a running point and has a full field view of all the different buckets of work that fall under writing this grant. And so, if there's one person that can be the coordinator, the convener, granted that's a high level of responsibility. But someone needs to be designated with sort of the authority and the impetus to reach out, get folks, coordinate their schedules, that is its own beast, right, finding the time to meet.

And so, I suggest breaking this into smaller chunks. Not making it one four-hour session where we can hammer out all the things that need to be fixed. And so, if there's one person that can sort of take on a little bit more than the others, it could probably save time and help with coordination.

Dionna: Awesome. Thank you so much, Hisham. It has been honestly such a pleasure to just soak in all of the knowledge that you've shared today. You really shared some really awesome tidbits and some myths that we've hopefully debunked today.

And I want to thank you everyone for joining today. Keep your eyes peeled for an email with a follow-up replay in the link to the slides. That way you can reference those if you have any questions. Also, feel free to follow up with all of us directly if you have any questions that we weren't able to get to sadly today.

And with that, thank you so much, everyone. And hope you have a fantastic Wednesday.

Hisham: Thanks, everyone.

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