I received this question from a contact: “I wanted to see if you had any advice on how I can practice writing grants outside of my job?”
It’s been a while since I was in that position, but I’ve been there. Where DOES a person go to practice writing grants? Ultimately this is a skill that professionals gets paid to execute.
My advice is to find a nonprofit that has a mission that is near and dear to your heart. It is always easier to write compelling narratives for an organization that ignites your passion.
Next, contact that organization and ask about their needs for grant dollars. Remember, just because a fit is there with your passion doesn’t mean there is a current need. Some organizations don’t need grants right now and some don’t write grants at all. To that end, keep this in mind: An organization that does not have a current needs list, a timeline, estimates, AND a sustainability plan for each need is not ready for grants.
Furthermore, the organizations who do need grants may not want you to ‘practice writing grants’ for a specific need. A large capital campaign or other critical project or program requires experience. An organization may not want to let someone practice grant writing based on the grant or need. In other words, you may have to find an organization that would ‘like’ grant dollars, and ‘could’ use them, but isn’t relying on them.
A few questions you will want to consider before presenting yourself to ‘practice writing grants.’
- Why are you interested in writing grants?
- Are you anticipating compensation for your time and energy?
- What are your terms and who will you be working with?
- How much do you know about the grant writing and research process? Are you ready to be responsible for the pre and post work involved with grant management?
- Will the grants be submitted by you, or a staff person from the organization?
- Who will be building the relationships with the foundations?
- If funding is awarded, do you have an agreement with the nonprofit that allows you to claim credit for helping secure that grant? You want to share your ‘success’ with other organizations and/or potential future clients.
- Are you going to conduct the prospect research for the organization?
- Does the organization have the capacity to support your work? Can they answer your questions regarding the applications, background, financials, etc?
Finding a way to practice writing grants while benefiting a specific group is the best way to get started. You could do this as a volunteer or possibly a board member. It is easier to find an opportunity to practice wirting grants once you have connections with a Nonprofit.
Best of luck as you continue to grow for good!