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Preparing Potential Clients for Grant Success in 30 Minutes or Less

When I started my consulting business, I was surprised by the number of organizations that inquired about grant services that were nowhere near grant ready...

Although I intuitively knew they weren't ready within the first 30 minutes of speaking with them, I lacked the evidence (and confidence!) to tell them they weren't grant ready. Plus, I hated being the bearer of bad news.
So, I would spend several unpaid hours doing a cursory search of the organization, potential grant opportunities, and best practices in their field. Obviously, this wasn't a sustainable business practice, but I wanted to prepare potential clients for grant success, even if success meant not applying for grants.
Since then, I've identified some techniques that help me do both:
Use Introduction Forms
Having potential clients complete an introduction form before an initial meeting is a great way to help organizations realize they aren't grant ready. The information on these forms can also help consultants quickly develop recommendations that can prepare potential clients for grant success.
Details you may want to collect on your introduction form include: nonprofit status, founding date, mission, number of staff and board members, description of services and population served, and amount and type of funding they're seeking.
Stay Aware of Funder Priorities
Even if a potential client is grant ready, the issue they want to address or their proposed approach for addressing it may not be a current priority among funders. Staying aware of funder priorities can help you quickly advise organizations on funding availability for what they're seeking.
Of course, it can be difficult for consultants to stay aware of funder priorities since we work with many organizations at once. Here are some ways to keep those priorities handy:
  • Get social with funders. Sign up for funders' newsletters or follow them on social media. 
  • Consider niching down. Providing grant services in only one or two fields (e.g., healthcare) will limit the number of funders and priorities you have to track.
  • Maintain a list of relevant grant opportunities. Keep track of grant opportunities, by topic, that are relevant to your target clients. This will allow you do to a quick check for opportunities in advance of potential client meetings. 

Know How to Convey the Value of Grant Seeking and Capacity Building Activities
Most people who contact me want grant funding now (or yesterday!). This desperation can make it difficult for potential clients to see the value in a slower approach that includes grant seeking and capacity building. As grant professionals, it's important that we guide them in a direction that will ensure the most efficient use of their resources and set them up for future grant success.
Think about the value grant seeking and capacity building can add to a potential client's future success and use that insight to develop talking points to guide potential clients to appropriate services.
Establish a Referral System
If you don't offer capacity-building services to increase grant readiness, find other trusted consultants who do so you can refer clients who aren't quite ready for grant services.
These four techniques have helped me establish sustainable business practices and allow me to prepare potential clients for grant success in 30 minutes or less.
What are your tips for quickly preparing potential clients for grant success?
Melissa Reams is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Upstream Consulting, a small business dedicated to helping health and social service organizations make a bigger community impact through program development, evaluation, and grant services.
GPC Competencies: 
01. Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs; 02. Knowledge of organizational development as it pertains to grant seeking




By: Cynthia Adams
On: 05/16/2019 09:48:24
Helpful blog post Melissa. I particularly liked your intake process: using a form / questionnaire to help potential clients understand where they fall on the grant readiness scale. Well done!
By: Linda Gilbertson
On: 05/16/2019 15:18:56
Very insightful and accurate. I am contacted by orgs that have been told they need to "hire a grant writer" when what they really need is to sit down with a professional and see where they are and IF grants are even a possibility for them. I never want to waste someone's time and - especially - their valuable funds.

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