How to Hire a Grant Writer, Part 4

A grant writer's greatest weapon is her ability to persuade. It would be great if she only had to worry about communicating with a singular audience, but a good grant writer understands that philanthropy is a diverse landscape. The same message may not resonate with two consecutive listeners.

Consider the following interview questions:

  • What are three adjectives that come to mind when you think about our organization?
  • Pretend you just met me at a reception, and give me a 2-minute pitch about what the organization does.
  • What would you highlight if you were pitching me as a corporate representative?
  • What would you highlight if you were pitching me as a foundation program officer?
  • How would you pitch me if you knew I was conservative?
  • How would you pitch me if you knew I was liberal?
  • How would you approach me if you knew I was a low income person?

A low income person? Everyone you meet is a potential source of funding. Approximately 26% of Obama’s 2008 campaign and Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 came from persons giving less than $200.

The best way to test your knowledge of something is to explain it to someone else who knows nothing about the subject. A well-prepared person will be able to take the subject and explain it from different angles. The information does not change, but the highlights shift depending on your listener's interests and core beliefs.

Why should a grant writer think on their feet if they’re communication is on paper? Putting aside for a moment the reality that all your staff should be trained fundraisers, it is important that you be prepared to respond however the situation may dictate. Your grant writer should work with you to develop strategic message points for distinct audiences.

In Part 1 we talked about some good qualifications of a solid grant writer. Part 2 explored the fundamental need for the candidate to know how to write well, and Part 3 emphasized the importance of a grant writer understanding your organization.

So, having read our series on hiring a grant writer, are you ready to hire yours? What else are you curious about? Anything we missed?

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