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A Warning About Grant Writing

While the payoff can be worth it, it is important to go into the grant-writing process with realistic expectations.

This is the first article in a series on grant writing. Read the introduction to the entire series

Many times, people will begin their grant writing journey thinking that grants are easy and free money. This is not the case. Grants can take a significant amount of resources to write, submit, manage, and report.

All grants take time, even if you are not awarded funding. Preparing grants can take anywhere from several hours to more than 100 hours for large proposals. Sometimes the reporting requirements extend beyond the funded period. Even a one-year grant can take two to three years of research, application, program delivery, and final reporting. If it is a multi-year grant, it will take even more time. There is never a guarantee of funding even from funders who have awarded you a grant previously. Also, keep in mind that many funders tend to prioritize organizations that have been established for a few years, have proof of strong and stable funding, and/or have leaders with proven experience and expertise as part of their staff or on their board of directors.

It is also important to note that, generally, grants must be used for a purpose that is usually outlined and agreed upon beforehand by the grant seeker and funder. A grant is a contract, for which you will sign an award agreement. Grants are not “free money” to be used as you wish.

This should not discourage your neighborhood association from looking at grants as a source of funding. They can help your programs expand and transform the impact your organization has in the community. However, it is important for everyone in your organization, especially your board of directors, to manage expectations on what grants really are and the amount of investment they may require.