Grant writers help nonprofit organizations apply for the billions of dollars in grants that public and private foundations award each year. In the lower Hudson Valley, the grant writers who are members of Grant Professionals of the Lower Hudson (GPLH) do that and much more. They are boosting the region’s and Westchester’s economy by helping fellow grant writers start and grow businesses.
In October 2008, Lydia Howie, president of Howie Marketing & Consulting Inc., convened a meeting of local grant professionals to discuss ways in which they could support each other and the grant-writing profession. Nineteen people showed up for that first meeting of GPLH. Today GPLH membership has grown to 64 members and 93 more “friends” — typically fundraisers who also have responsibility for grant writing.
They handle the grant writing needs for more than 300 area nonprofits and write on a wide array of causes, including hunger, homelessness, the arts, environment, youth development, health care, diseases, disabilities and mental health, substance abuse, workforce development, higher education and much more. Collectively, they raise tens of millions each year for Westchester nonprofits, enabling these nonprofits to fulfill their missions.
Over the years, GPLH has helped to start more than 20 grant services consulting businesses, in addition to helping dozens of existing grant-writing businesses grow by adding new clients.
GPLH executive staff regularly helps callers decide if they are ready for self-employment and answer questions on the logistics of setting up a business, finding clients, pitching new business, adhering to New York state Charities Bureau laws and more. They have also spoken with dozens of nonprofits inquiring about grant writing, helping them determine if they are grant ready and answering questions about pay rates, employee versus consultant, how to find a grant writer and how to work with a writer.
Joanne Stewart, president of goodworks Advisory Group in Cross River and current president of Grant Professionals of the Lower Hudson, credits GPLH with helping her open her business in 2009. In 2016, she was named Development Professional of the Year by the Association of Development Officers.
“GPLH gave me the tools and confidence to start my own consulting business,” Stewart said. “Because GPLH is known within the nonprofit industry as ‘the source’ for finding grant-writing support, there were many opportunities to meet potential new clients and secure new business. The knowledge I gained through the educational programs I attended and the peer-to-peer support I received helped me to develop a strong business structure.”
Freelance grant writer Aaron Fumarola said GPLH “connected me with countless fellow grant writers. Thanks to their networking opportunities, I was able to find both subcontracted work and direct freelancing… GPLH has helped me secure a good deal of work.”
A popular free service GPLH provides is hosting the region’s job bank for grant-writing jobs and consultant positions. During 2016, the organization promoted 48 opportunities and was able to help nearly all advertisers fill their position or find a consultant.
GPLH also provides hands-on experience for individuals interested in becoming a grant writer through its internship program. It currently has three mentor-mentee pairs.
According to intern Jane Tabone, “GPLH’s internship program gave me the opportunity to learn and hone the skills I needed to become a professional grant writer. The internship transitioned to a part-time job with the consultant Carrie Rothburd. I am grateful to GPLH for having this wonderful resource available for its members, and I am also grateful to Carrie for taking a chance with me”.
Other GPLH services that support grant writers and their businesses are quarterly educational meetings, industry news e-blasts, free job and consultant referral service, an annual Meet the Funders panel discussion, proofreading services and networking events.
In August, the nonprofit launched GPLH Connection, a monthly networking and open-forum conference call for grant writers to share news, ask questions and bounce ideas off other grant writers.
In its nine years of existence, GPLH has become a regional job creator and economic driver, helping dozens of consultants to grow their businesses and nonprofits to raise the funds they need to achieve their mission. Additional information about GPLH and its free resources available to nonprofits and grant professionals, including information on grant professional certification, grant writing courses, webinars, grant seeking and research resources, may be found on its website at GPLH.org.
Adie Shore is the owner of Shore Grant Services in Scarsdale. She can be reached at 914-420-5947 or email@example.com.