Six Steps to Successful Grant Consulting

May 30, 2024 | Grant Writing

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Pursuing a career as a grant consultant can be an incredibly rewarding path, allowing you to leverage your skills in writing, research, and project management to secure vital funding for non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and other worthy causes. However, like any entrepreneurial endeavor, building a successful grant consulting business requires careful planning, dedication, and a strategic mindset.

I love grant consulting because I can create a business and make it my own. There is no wrong way to build it (assuming you follow all the required legal obligations, of course). When I first started, I did not form an LLC, choosing instead to work as Amanda Day. I worked part time. All my clients came to me through connections and word of mouth.

At the other end of the spectrum is a grant consulting firm like Kim Joyce & Associates. Founder and CEO Kim Joyce started her firm as a lone consultant, but today she employees over 30 people. Her firm provides services related to the entire grant life-cycle. It did not happen overnight, but it grew and grew. Kim quickly realized her business did not have to follow a set course, but she was free to mold it to her liking. To hear from Kim, check out the latest episode of the Fundraising HayDay podcast HERE.

Whether you are thinking about consulting, have already launched your business, or are looking to grow your firm, consider these pointers for successful business building.

1. Develop Specialized Expertise

While having a broad knowledge base is valuable, focusing on a specific niche or sector can make you a more attractive prospect for potential clients. Whether it’s education, healthcare, environmental causes, or any other area, developing deep expertise in a particular domain will enable you to better understand the unique challenges and requirements faced by organizations in that field. Or maybe you want to focus on the post-award aspect of grants, rather than the entire life cycle.

2. Build a Strong Network

Networking is crucial in the grant consulting world. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and actively seek out opportunities to connect with potential clients, fellow consultants, and other stakeholders. A robust network not only provides access to new business opportunities but also allows you to stay informed about emerging trends, funding sources, and best practices. If you have yet to find your people, I HIGHLY recommend the Grant Professionals Association (for all aspects of grant work) or the National Grant Management Association (if federal grant management is the arena in which you work).

3. Hone Your Writing and Research Skills

Strong writing and research capabilities are at the core of a successful grant consulting practice. Continuously refine your skills in crafting compelling narratives, constructing airtight arguments, and conducting thorough research to support your grant proposals. Additionally, stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines and requirements of major funding organizations. Honing your skills does not mean you must only immerse yourself in grant work. Reading a book, listening to a podcast, or serving as a grant reviewer are great means to improve your skills.

4. Prioritize Client Relationships

Building and maintaining strong client relationships is key to long-term success in the grant consulting business. Communicate regularly with your clients, keep them informed about the progress of their grant applications, and be responsive to their questions and concerns. Strive to understand their unique goals and tailor your approach accordingly.

5. Stay Organized and Efficient

Effective time management and organizational skills are critical when juggling multiple grant proposals and client projects. Develop systems and processes to streamline your workflow, meet deadlines, and ensure that no details fall through the cracks. Leveraging project management tools and software can help you stay on top of tasks and deliver high-quality work consistently. I will always recommend Asana as a fabulous project management tool (and I still use their free version), but there are a ton out there, so find what works for you.

6. Continuously Learn and Adapt

The grant consulting industry is ever evolving, with new funding opportunities, changing guidelines, and shifting priorities. Embrace a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation. Stay informed about industry trends, attend professional development workshops or seminars, and be willing to pivot your strategies as needed to remain competitive and relevant. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on education – reading our weekly blog post and listening to the Fundraising HayDay podcast are two of many free ways to continue learning.

Building a successful grant consulting business requires a combination of specialized expertise, strong networking skills, and a commitment to delivering exceptional client service. By following these tips and remaining dedicated to your craft, you can establish a thriving enterprise that makes a tangible impact on the causes and organizations you support.

However you choose to grow your business (or not), we support you!

PS: Wish you knew more about starting and growing your grant consulting business? Check out Morphology, an on demand webinar that answers 13 questions to jumpstart or transform your consulting career. Kimberly and I worked with Allison Boyd to build a training based on real world experience that tackles the most pressing questions for your consulting success. Learn more and register for your copy HERE.

Amanda Day
Fundraising HayDay

A podcast about grants & such.

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