For a lasting relationship, find a third wheel.

corporate foundations grant management grant writing Jul 21, 2023

By Laura Chynoweth, CEO of Granted

During my consultation calls, I often speak with nonprofit leaders looking for someone to manage not only pre-award and post-award processes but also to act as the point of contact for grant applications. Our policy at Granted Fundraising Consultants is to stay behind the scenes, never interacting directly with grantmakers, unless a technical issue with an online application itself comes up (and even then we do not share client names with grantmakers). 

This policy may seem like it was cooked up by a bunch of stereotypical, introverted writers (which we kind of are), but the truth is, we want to be your (invisible) third wheel. (Wanna bet on how many more metaphors you think I can fit in one blog post?) The third-wheel arrangement is simply a win-win-win. (Yes, that’s a triple “win” situation, if you’re counting.) 

No offense, but your first best friend is not our first best friend. Whether it's seeking out news stories about your potential funder or thoroughly researching their grantmaking history and interests, my team and I will do everything we can to help prepare you to initially connect with or sustain a lasting relationship with the funder. What we don’t want to do is muddy the waters (metaphor # 156) by introducing a member of the Granted team into email threads between you and the funder. It may seem like emails to grantmakers are an easy task to remove from your neverending “to do” list, but this is how funders become confused and important messages are lost. 

Plus, there may come a day that our work together comes to an end. To preserve the relationship with your grantmaker in the long-term, it should live with your organization, not with your contract grant writer. What a shame it would be to work with a contract grant writer to grow your organization to the point of hiring in-house development staff, only to realize you’ve never had a meaningful conversation with some of your biggest grantmakers!

I’ve said it before, but when it comes to hiring a grant consultant, you should be ready to work as hard as they do to set up a strong grant writing program. This means not cutting corners and asking them to “just respond to that one email” from a grantmaking foundation. Remember: your grant writing program is only as sustainable as the decisions you make in managing it. 

Keep in mind that grant consultant specialties are nuanced. Some contract grant writers will also serve as development managers and conduct donor stewardship activities. If you decide to go with this type of consultant, make sure to assign them an email address from your organization if they are going to reach out to funders on your nonprofit’s behalf. You should also make sure you know how to recover / check their emails in the event they no longer work with you in the future. 

In sum, when it comes to hiring a grant consultant, focus on finding a third wheel, so you can forge strong relationships with funders that are yours and yours alone.