New nonprofits are often eager to get started with grant writing. After all, grants are a common funding stream for nonprofits and a great way to bring in significant funds, for both new and established charities.
But as experienced grant writers, we’re always cautioning new nonprofits against starting with grant writing right off the bat. And here’s why:
While not impossible to get a grant as a new nonprofit, we advise them to wait until they have successes under their belt to speak to. This way, funders know your organization is accomplishing what it sets out to do and that any investment of grant funds will likely have an impact. In addition, most new nonprofits can’t speak to other established funding streams, making them look financially unstable. That means it’s a big risk for a grant maker; they don’t want to make a grant only to have the organization close its doors in six months. They’re better off investing their money elsewhere.
On the technical side of things, most new nonprofits won’t be able to provide much of what is required of them to complete a grant application. More and more, funders are requiring three years of financial records as an attachment on a grant application. They’re not likely to consider a nonprofit that doesn’t have this information.
Thus, new nonprofits should wait until they’re a bit more established before they jump into grant writing and hiring a grant writer. There are a few exceptions, but this practice is something we as professional grant writers stand behind.