Dear Experienced Grant Writer...

Have a burning question?

Ask the experienced grant writer!

This anonymous questionnaire allows you to send in your burning grant writing questions and have them answered by our team of grant writing professionals. 

Have a question for a specific team member? Simply select the grant pro to ask!  

There is no limit on how many questions you submit!

Ask the grant writer

We can't wait to help take stress out of grants for you!

That’s a sticky situation to be in!
I’d imagine that the state agency staff may be sensitive to you reaching out to the organization to tell them the state has asked you to apply. However, I can imagine the collaborative organization will be upset if the way they learn they are not getting funded again is in the same moment that they see an award announcement that you have been funded.
Perhaps asking the person at the state that has encouraged your organization to apply if they have any concerns with you giving the other organization a heads up as a way to preserve the collaborative relationship.
You can learn more about becoming a GPC as well at the GPCI website (
Yes, there are other online professional networking groups. There is an online forum for members of the Grant Professionals Association ( that is called GrantZone. There is also a non-membership required group of the Grant Professionals Association on LinkedIn which is a great place to learn, ask questions, and connect.

Guest input:

The term non-federal can depend a little based on the context, but this term generally means: 
In the context of an organization: 
Non-Federal entity (NFE) means a State, local government, Indian tribe, Institution of Higher Education (IHE), or nonprofit organization that carries out a Federal award as a recipient or subrecipient.  
In the context of funding – the source of the funds is not federal funding -(federal funding includes both for recipients and subrecipients.)
Lucy’s definition is technical and right on the mark since the list is the types of revenue that you could be putting forward for cost-share or match when required.

If you are asking if you can apply to the same federal program for more than one project the answer is, it depends on the federal program. Some allow applicants to apply under more than one category, some do not, be sure to read the guidelines carefully.

If you are asking if your organization can apply for different federal grants after you are in receipt of one the answer is yes! 

I can understand the whirlwind of going from the position at a nonprofit to being a contractor. It can take a little bit to find your footing. When I started working as a grant professional, I was happy when I came upon the Grants Professionals Association, this is a community of grant professionals as well as training opportunities, networking, and even job postings for consultants. This was a great resource for me and I hope it can be the same for you!

Dear Experienced Grant Writer: 

I have four years experience in grants and I joined a new company where the expectations for completing a proposal are a bit unrealistic. I plan and wrote a federal cooperative agreement a couple of months ago in just three weeks. This took me at least 2-3 hours each evening of the workweek and some hours each weekend just to complete the proposal and the proposal was not strong in the end. I have similar expectations for private/foundation grants, completing most of these proposals for a 2 or 4 year project period in 2-4 weeks. Then another tight deadline right after submission of the previous proposal. Project team members also just provide me with a PPT slide, direct me to the company website, or provide some data but don’t seem to understand that a grant writer doesn’t plan and write award-winning proposals independently. I’m very concerned about quality, burnout, and how to communicate to leadership that I need more time and commitment from the project team to plan and write proposals. What would you recommend?


Dear Heroic Grant Pro, 

Congrats on the new job! Being the new person can be a stressful time, especially when you are unfamiliar with the territory.  However, this is a great opportunity for you to get to know your supervisor, your co-workers and your organization. First, review previous proposals, if available, to understand the programs, previous methodologies, and budget aspects the organization utilizes. Determine any lapses or inconsistencies in the information available.  Second, express to your supervisor that you want to produce your best work and increase your chances for being funded. Review the information lapses you have gathered and let your supervisor know that you need this information to complete grant proposals. Be very specific about the information you need, the approximate amount of time it will take, and identify the co-workers best suited to provide the information. Seek feedback from your supervisor on additional ways to obtain the information you need. 


Once you and your supervisor have agreed on who from and how to get the information you need, start reaching out to the appropriate co-workers to start setting meetings to get the information you need. Provide as much context and information about the request and meeting upfront so that your co-workers can come prepared. Create the environment for a collaborative relationship by coming prepared with as much background information as possible so that it can be an exchange of information. 


Last but not least, build a toolkit from all the information that you gather.  You should have a template for every program that you write grants for so that you do not need to recreate the entire proposal from scratch every time. This will save you some time and effort in the future.  As you progress through this process, be sure to be patient with yourself. You won’t know everything on your first day or potentially even your 30th but eventually you will. 


All the best,

Chris Johnson

Dear Experienced Grant Writer: 

I have been a self-employed grant writer for over 10 years. When I started, it was no longer best practices to charge a percentage of any grant award received. I have charged a flat rate all these years. With a recent new client, they are saying that I am crazy to charge a flat rate instead of a percentage of grant awards. Can you tell me what is the best practice these days? I want to be fair to myself and the organizations I work for, but I also don’t want to undercharge for my work.


Dear Seasoned Grant Writer, 

You are correct that it remains best practice not to charge a percentage of an award for your services. In fact, in most cases, it is both unethical and illegal to take a commission or percentage of the grant total for your work as a grant writer. The services you are providing are not part of the project/program you are requesting funding for and are therefore not part of the outcomes the funder is expecting to invest in. Also, keep in mind, whether a proposal is awarded or denied can depend on many other factors aside from the writing of the proposal itself (e.g., competition is high, grant funding is limited, there is a lack of relationship with the funder, etc.). The organization/client should be adequately compensating you for both your work and a finished product that can often be used for more than just a singular proposal, regardless of whether or not the proposal was funded. For more information about compensation as it relates to GPA Ethics, see the GPA Ethics FAQs

Best regards,

Beth Archer, Grant Professional

Dear Experienced Grant Writer: 

I want to be a grant writer but only have 1 year of experience. How would you suggest gaining more experience?


Dear year old grant writer, 

I would recommend reaching out to a  local/regional nonprofit that you are passionate about the mission for, explain that you are new in your grant writing career, and ask if you can assist in their grant writing efforts pro bono for a while (you define a few months or up to a year, etc based on what works best for you) to strengthen your skills while also assisting in their efforts.


Best regards,

Diane H. Leonard, GPC, RST

Dear Experienced Grant Writer,

After being in a couple grant writing workshops, and then having received a letter that let me know of my declined grant application, I wanted to know if there are any questions to ask the declining grantmakers or if there should be a follow up after a rejection. Should I continue the communication I have with the grantmakers?


Grant Seeker


Dear Grant Seeker,

That’s a great question. It is always a good idea to follow up with an application. Whether a foundation, state, or federal grant, if you aren’t awarded funding you should always ask for feedback. It won’t always be provided, but it is worth asking. The way to frame the question depends on if the feedback on the decision making process is available. Some grantmakers use a scoring rubric (like federal agencies) and so you may very well be able to receive a copy of your score sheets and reviewer comments. Your questions can be derived from the places where you didn’t meet their criteria. Although rubrics are common with state and federal grants, It is often much less formal for foundations. 

On top of this, even when you GET the award, especially with government applications – ask for your score/feedback sheets as you want to see where you really excelled and use the feedback to help structure future applications. Following reviewer scores to the letter won’t guarantee your success, but it certainly increases your odds.

Best wishes for your grant seeking success,

Diane H. Leonard, GPC

Dear Experienced Grant Writer,

I’ve recently been given the responsibilities of a Grant Writer as the nonprofit I am a part of. I just took a federal grant class and it felt like swimming upstream. There is so much information and I don’t even know what I don’t know about grants. I want to enter the grant seeking world with confidence but I feel as if I need some help. Is there any advice you can give me?


New At This


Dear New At This,

I would recommend Grant Writing 101 for new grant seekers. While a live class isn’t always scheduled through CharityHowTo, the recorded version is always available and contains all the same slides and bonus materials as a live class (plus costs a few dollars less than the live version). I would suggest this for you to help you grasp the foundation of grant writing. 

If you want to dig a bit deeper, I’d recommend you join me for one of our upcoming Grant Writing Boot Camp classes with We offer one just about every month. They are a great way to learn the basics of creating logic models, work plans, and strong budgets.

There are also resources that I send to new grant writers that reach out as there are a number of resources my firm and I provide to help get you started at no charge. These can be found here. Lastly, if you’d like even more resources, you can find some great resources with Grant Professionals Association on their website

Best wishes for your grant learning success,

Diane H. Leonard, GPC

Dear ExperiencedGrant Writer,

I’ve been a grant writer for a few years now, and I’m taking over as a lead grant writer in the industry that I’ve been a part of for the last few years. My job is to find large grants for the nonprofit that I’m a part of and I also oversee the other grant writers that are attached to the departments that are in my organization. They focus on specific grants for their department and I look at maintaining and seeking grant opportunities for the organization as a whole.

The grant writers have infrequent meetings, and it often feels last minute and rushed for each submission and report. I’m often the person that finishes the applications if we are running behind and I know that we need to be more organized. I want to be more efficient and give the team more structure so that applications can be timely and show our best work. Do you have any advice on building a grant writing team?


Team Builder


Dear Team Builder,

This is a great goal for any grant professionals to have!

Each grant team looks a little bit different depending on the organization’s culture, size, and grant seeking goals. The basics of what a grant team definition is when we are coaching an organization on starting a grant team is here

Another way to think of the grant team is a dream team, or even a team of superheroes like a Marvel comic book. Here is another take from our team on how to put together a grant “dream team.”

There is also a CharityHowTo recorded session I provided recently with suggestions about how to manage grant teams and grant calendars that I think may be useful for you, especially with the bonus materials to help guide you along on your journey.

Best regards,

Diane H. Leonard, GPC