In Part 1 of Blue Avocado's series on hiring grantwriters, we compared grantwriters to unicorns: elusive, seldom-seen miraculous creatures, possibly mythical. In researching this article we reached out to dozens of grantwriters. Here you have a chance to meet two of them.
Anthony Izzo, a one-time English teacher, worked in Las Vegas real estate and other businesses before becoming a grantwriter.
How did you get involved in grantwriting?
My friends who were involved in the nonprofit world would show me proposals to companies they had written and honestly, I would cringe when I read them. So I just started helping people.
The most inquiries come from new organizations. A common misunderstanding is that they expect people to do it for free. I always ask them if they have a board, a lot of times they say, "Not yet." Because I say, "sometimes you have a board member who would do it for free."
For example, someone might think, "I've got a teen crisis center, here's somebody who funds children and families, they'll give to us." They don't know that maybe this foundation or corporation only gives to education. I have to see if they "get it." Is this really something they are dedicated to or is it a tax shelter for their husband's real estate company?
Let's say I'm a community nonprofit and I'm asking you to write a proposal to a local foundation for $15,000. How would you charge?
I charge up to $75/hour for research, writing, consulting, or doing a webinar. I'd ask them if they've looked at the guidelines, already sent in a letter of inquiry, whether they've had grants from them in the past and if they have someone for me to work with. If I don't have to do the research, it might take 20 hours but I might have one of the ladies on my team do it, charge them half, say $35/hour. That would come to $2,500, which is a lot for a $15,000 grant. It's a tough call for them whether it's worth it. A lot of times I tell people, "You know guys, you really aren't ready, it's premature for a grantwriter." But if you were an established organization, I'd probably charge around a couple of grand.
What should people look for in a grantwriter?
How organized they are. Their body language. Are they on the Internet or in a book? Are they "jiving" me or are they "on the square"? They [the nonprofits] need to be clear about what role they want me to play. Do they want to point me like a gun and then that's the last time they want to consult with me?
What else should we know about you?
I had a bit part in the movie Casino. I was one of [actor Joe] Pesci's friends.
You can reach Anthony Izzo at email@example.com.
Goodwin Deacon of Seattle, Washington, like Anthony, is a former English professor turned grantwriter. Either as a staff member or as a consultant, she has helped raise funds for colleges and hospitals, musicians and gardeners. SheaEU(tm)s written proposals for grants from $10,000 to $100,000 as well as multi-million dollar capital grants. She and the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association also hold conferences and maintain a directory of freelance grantwriters in the area.
LetaEU(tm)s say IaEU(tm)m a community nonprofit and IaEU(tm)m asking you to write a proposal to a local foundation for $15,000. How would you charge?
LetaEU(tm)s assume the foundation doesnaEU(tm)t have overly complex guidelines and wants a proposal of about 4-5 pages. I have to know how prepared the organization is: will I need to put together a basic description of activities and the organization? Have they thought through the needs statements, objectives, the budget? If theyaEU(tm)ve done none of that, it might take 20-25 hours. If theyaEU(tm)ve done everything, maybe 5-10 hours. The first grant always takes much longer than the next grant. I have to get to know them. ItaEU(tm)s really fast when they already have a strong development person who just needs a hand.
WhataEU(tm)s your advice to nonprofits when hiring a grantwriter?
DonaEU(tm)t ask about the success rate. Whether a grant succeeds depends on several things outside the grantwriteraEU(tm)s control, such as the organizationaEU(tm)s track record, how well it knows foundations. Two organizations can be doing similar work, and one can be at 85% and the other much lower, because they didnaEU(tm)t have the connections.
What do you like about your work?
IaEU(tm)ve helped a lot of good organizations to get the money they need.
While we are grateful for Anthony and GoodwinaEU(tm)s willingness to help Blue Avocado readers, please note that their inclusion in this article doesnaEU(tm)t represent an endorsement by Blue Avocado.