Grant Professional Capacity: 100 Per Year? 25? 70?

There is a predictable capacity-related question I am frequently asked by those that are new to the field of grant writing. 


(Note: Did you miss Julie Johnson’s post on capacity planning for freelance grant professionals/consultants You can read it here.)


The question of “How many grants can a grant professional write in one year?” is a common, yet very heavy and situation dependent question.


The answer is definitely, “It depends.”


But what does it depend on? 


Some of the factors that it can depend on include:

  • What the mix of private foundation, local/state government and federal government grant applications an organization has planned in their grant calendar for a year (check out our Grant Research guide which includes a grant calendar facilitation process as well);
  • If the grant applications are for new program/project ideas or are for the continuation of existing programs;
  • If the grant professional is brand new to the organization or has been working for/with the organization for an extended period of time;
  • How engaged the grant team is in supporting the pre-award information gathering and project design brainstorming (Wondering what a grant team is? Read our definition here.);
  • If the grant professional is responsible not “only” for the pre-award work of grant applications, but also is responsible for some or all of the grant management and reporting for those awarded funds.


So how many proposals can a grant professional write in one year?


I recently spoke with a grant professional that was experiencing a success percentage much lower than they wanted, yet with a funding result that was meeting the budgetary needs of their small organization.


As we were talking through their best practice related questions, I came to understand that they were focused on the research of potential grant funders and skipping the relationship building and maintenance opportunities with grant makers they were interested in or currently receiving funding from.


As the conversation continued, the grant professional shared that they were writing approximately 100 grant proposals per year. 100 proposals for a small organization (under $500,000 per year) is a very high volume. Our team’s theory was that the organization would have stronger results by reducing their volume of proposals and instead spending extra time working to connect with grant makers prior to beginning an application and then keeping in touch with and enhancing relationships with grant makers that are currently funding their organization.


The lesson? Even if an individual grant professional *can* potentially increase their capacity to submit more applications in one year, without following the best practices of not just strong grant maker research, but focusing resources on grant maker relationships, the additional grant seeking efforts will necessarily not lead to the increase in revenue that the organization is looking for. In fact, the opposite. It will likely burn out the grant professional and create a churn and burn culture that will also decrease the way in which proposals are being customized for each grant maker to be the most competitive for *that* specific grant maker.


What other factors have you found influence the capacity of an individual grant professional in one year? Our team would love to hear about your experiences. Let us know in the comments below.

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