challenges

Challenges Facing Grant Writers in Today’s Environment

New and seasoned grant writers are encountering increased challenges in seeking funding for their research and organizations. Many of these challenges are beyond their control. In this blog, I will briefly outline five of the most common barriers. In subsequent blogs, I will comprehensively address each one:

Increased Competition:

As the demand for grant funding continues to rise, the competition among organizations and individuals seeking grants has become more intense. Currently, the funding levels for many federal grants is ranging around the 90th percentile and above.

Evolving Donor Priorities:

Donor priorities may shift over time due to changes in political, economic, or social landscapes, which require grant writers to adapt their proposals accordingly. For example, as presidential administrations emphasize their research and educational priorities, funding also changes to reflect these interests.

Demonstrating Impact and Sustainability:

Funders increasingly expect grant applicants to demonstrate their projects’ potential impact and sustainability. Grant writers must develop strategies for effectively measuring and communicating the outcomes and institutionalization of their initiatives to secure funding and ensure long-term viability for their organizations.

Limited Resources and Capacity:

Many organizations that increasingly face internal budget cuts often reduce resources necessary for grant writing efforts, such as staff time and training. These cuts pose a significant challenge for grant writers, who must often juggle multiple responsibilities and priorities while pursuing funding opportunities.

Adapting to Digital Platforms

With the increasing digitization of grant application processes, grant writers need to adapt to numerous online platforms and technologies. This may require taking extra time to learn new software and digital communication strategies to effectively submit their project proposals to funders.

So, what must grant writers and organizations do in the face of these obstacles? First and foremost, institutions need to understand that internal cuts result in much larger consequences for external giving. Secondly, grant seekers must constantly stay current on evolving donor priorities, digital platforms and technologies. Thirdly, grant writers must ensure sustainability by institutionalizing their initial funding so that they become ongoing efforts, such as train the trainers programs, infusing student learning in existing courses, or creating focus groups that can continue to serve their communities after the donor’s funding ends.

Mathilda Harris

Over the past 18 years, she has written grants, conducted capital campaigns, developed strategic plans for grant procurement, and assisted individuals and institutions to write winning proposals for various donors.

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