Category Archives: Copywriting

Ask Dalya: How can we measure return on investment for grantwriting?


Q: What is the best way to measure return on investment for grantwriting?

A: You may be tempted to think that it’s simply the amount of money you immediately bring in minus the time and money you spent to procure that grant. Right? Not so fast…

We need to look at grantwriting’s return on investment in both the short term and long term.

The number and size of grants directly resulting from any given proposal is often out of your control. Foundation board members consider many factors when funding different grants, and (I dare say) the quality of your proposal is only one of them. The organization’s reputation or history in the community, changing funder priorities or staff, unexpected limitations on funds, and a perceived mismatch with a proposal’s emphasis are just a few. So the short-term success of any proposal (i.e., getting funded) is not the only way we can measure the effectiveness of grantwriting work.

The good news is that the grantwriting process itself can be valuable to the organization in several ways. For example, thinking through the responses to a Request for Proposals can be a great strategic planning exercise. Creating a program budget may shine a light on expenses you have never tallied up before. While writing a general operations proposal, seeing the big picture of an organization (beyond its day-to-day parts) can be an eye-opening experience. I have seen many organizations benefit in these ways from the grantwriting process (whether or not they get a specific grant).

At the end of the process comes that final product. Once you invest the time to create solid, comprehensive templates, subsequent versions take a lot less time. You will have created a document that can be repurposed for many fundraising materials, and can be tweaked for future proposals. That text can be built upon for months, even years, to come.

And don’t forget that an initially rejected proposal can be a blessing in disguise. You may learn valuable lessons from the rejecting funder. Maybe your organization has some weaknesses that you couldn’t see but the funder could? Perhaps you are showing potential and the foundation is able to share non-monetary resources that are actually more beneficial to you right now? Sometimes funders can connect you to a collaborator that will make your proposal fundable next time. Maybe the funder is interested in funding you, but you just need a few more years under your belt? These are just examples of the many valuable lessons you may learn from funders.

So don’t discount the long-term, indirect return on that investment. The value is actually much more than simply a check in the mail for the next funding cycle.

GOOD NEWS! This is exactly the type of question we discuss in the Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program. Get the answers you’re looking for! Join us for the February 2 – March 12 session.

(By the way, if you are looking for free information about grantseeking or grantwriting, check out You’ll find a free Sample Grant Proposal Checklist, a quick summary of what NOT TO DO, and even Q & A.)

Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program: FAQ

confusion2Folks have asked some great questions about the Grantwriter’s FastTrack Coaching Program. And here are the answers!

By the way, the next session of the FastTrack Program starts on February 2, with only 6 seats available. The Early Bird deadline is this Friday, January 23. You should also know about the program’s main page for more details.

Q: Who is the FastTrack Program for?

The program was designed for you if:

  • You have grantwriting responsibilities as a nonprofit development or program staff member, volunteer, or board member
  • You are a beginning/intermediate grantwriter
  • You have strong writing skills and want to explore the world of grantwriting

Q: How is this program different from regular grantwriting classes?

The FastTrack Program does not just deliver one-size-fits-all group training (available in other places). Rather, it is customized to the group’s specific interest areas: you will help shape the group’s experience. Topics unique to you can be discussed in your one-on-one laser sessions.

You will be working on a real grantwriting project over several weeks; the program is by no means just theoretical! If you are not yet required to write grants, you will need to arrange with a nonprofit organization to write a grant proposal for them (most nonprofits will jump at this opportunity).

The FastTrack Program also gives you the chance to learn from others’ successes and challenges (“case studies”), as well as practice providing and receiving analytical feedback. Your insights will add value to the group discussion and hearing others’ different perspectives will add to your own learning process.

There will be lots of real-time interaction and Q&A (by phone and Facebook group), so the program will not be like many of the other online trainings you may know about.

Q: How much of a time commitment is involved?

In addition to the 4 group conference calls and 1-2 private laser calls, you will need to plan for approximately 1-2 hours per week (on your own schedule) to devote to program homework. If you are brand new to grantwriting, or if you are not already working on a grant proposal, you may have to devote an additional 1-2 hours per week to the program.

Q: What if I can’t make all 4 conference calls?

If, for some reason, you are unable to join a live group call or two, you will be able to interact with the group and ask questions via our private Facebook page. You will also want to listen to the recordings of the calls. If you know ahead of time that you can only attend some of the live group calls, we can make arrangements to ensure that you still get maximum value from the program.

Your 60 minutes of private “laser” coaching will be scheduled according to your own availability.

Q: What kind of grantwriting background do I need?

If you have attended at least 1 introductory course on grantwriting and/or have been part of at least 1 grant proposal process, that is excellent! If you are just starting out, no worries. You will have lots of opportunities to take free online tutorials to hit the ground running. The only requirement is the motivation to work with others to improve your grantwriting skills.

Q: Do you offer a money-back guarantee?Of course! Fully participate in the FastTrack Program until the first Friday of the session. If you are not already getting incredible value from the program, I will offer a full refund.

Q: Can I hear a sample of your training and coaching?

Yes! Just watch this introductory webinar.


You can see the full FAQ page HERE.

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Writing Wednesdays in December: Donor Thank You Letters Reviewed



A thank you letter can be either an administrative exercise or a powerful way to connect with your donors.  If it is done right, it will increase the likelihood that donors will continue to give, and say yes when you invite them to get more involved.  On this podcast we discussed 6 jobs that a thank you letter does, as well as several attributes of a good thank you letter.

We also reviewed these 5 Sample Thank You Letters and pointed out strengths and weaknesses.

paul jolly headshotOur Special Guest was Paul Jolly of JumpStart Growth. Paul worked as a fund raising professional for over 20 years before starting the consulting firm Jump Start Growth.  He began his career serving several Quaker institutions in one-person development offices, then moved to The Wilderness Society, where he was a one of six major gift officers.  His last job before launching Jump Start Growth was at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.  In every instance, he has zeroed in on gifts from individuals at the top of the giving pyramid.  The focus of Paul’s consulting work is bringing sophisticated major gifts fund raising practices to organizations that are ready for dramatic expansion. His successes include leading three capital campaigns for organizations new to major gifts fund raising, securing millions of dollars in bequest and planned gift commitments, and bringing a laser-sharp focus on donors and increased vitality to small development departments. He is a regular contributor to the Guidestar blog, and is a popular workshop leader. Paul has a BA in English from the University of Maryland and is a not-yet-published poet.

Special Offer: If you would like a copy of the two articles that Paul mentioned on the podcast (on Acknowledging Gifts and The Sequence of Prospect Cultivation), please email him at:

Find the December 2014 podcast in the ARCHIVE.