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Grant Consulting: What It Takes To Be Successful

Hear about the opportunities available for freelance grant writers, as well as the “hows” and “whys” behind becoming a grant consultant.

Holly Rustick , CEO & Bestselling Author | Grant Writing & Funding

Holly has been writing grants for 15+ years, immersing herself in the grant world and securing millions of dollars for nonprofits around the world! Holly is also an Amazon bestselling author, podcast host of Grant Writing & Funding, and world-renowned grant writing expert.

Holly has been on both sides of the grant writing coin – writing them and winning grants as well as managing and reviewing them on behalf of numerous organizations. Using this experience, she has created an extensive database of grant writing and funding-related online courses. she also offers workshops and provides coaching for people who want to transition into freelance grant writing to earn a full-time income.

On the nerdy side, she holds a Master’s Degree in International Political Economy and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She is also a professor at the University of Guam, Past President of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and editor of the Storyboard journal.


Want to see additional resources? Visit resources.foundant.com

Connect with other members of the philanthropic community at Community.foundant.com

Want to make grant managment easier? Learn how we can help.


Tammy Tilzey 00:00:03:29

Hello and welcome to our Connected Philanthropy podcast. Today we are privileged to have Holly Rustic of grant writing and funding as our guest, and we will be talking about what it takes to be a successful grant consultant. Holly brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this topic. She has a rich history and passion for helping nonprofits and consultants find the right grant writing, training.

Tammy Tilzey 00:00:31:14

And she also helps consultants build their fundraising, their funding streams. So we’re really excited to have you join us today. Holly, thank you.

Holly Rustick 00:00:43:05

Thank you so. Much. It’s my pleasure to be here on the Foundant Technologies Podcast. I’m super excited.

Tammy Tilzey 00:00:51:15

Oh, I’m glad you’re excited because I’m excited to be talking about all these pathways and people come from different career backgrounds just to become involved with grants. But the different pathways they come to, to building a grant consulting practice with and so I’m excited to talk with you about that today. So let’s just dove right in, if you will.

Tammy Tilzey 00:01:16:02

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your organization, and how you came to do this spot of of serving grant consultants and training them?

Holly Rustick 00:01:29:28

Sure. Yeah. So it’s been a it’s been a long journey. It started almost two decades ago. So I actually when I first got into it, I was working in Indonesia after the Asian tsunami. And yes, I was over there and I was helping doing community work. And one of the things that people came up to me from the community, they were saying, well, it’s great the program that the nonprofit put together, but really we need money to start our businesses again.

Holly Rustick 00:01:55:23

And there was a lot of U.N. agencies there was money out there. But these the people didn’t know how to connect with those big funders that had, you know, drove around with their security and all of that and were seemed impenetrable. Impenetrable, right. You know what I mean? To get to. So there was definitely the gatekeepers. So I said, sure, I’ll I’ll I’ll ask for money for you.

Holly Rustick 00:02:15:26

Like, let’s figure out why you need it and all the things. And basically wrote a grant and didn’t really realize that’s what I was doing and this year, you know, and was able to also work on some fundraising with some connections, it was really cool and was able to get money for them and I thought, that’s great. They were able to put their water kiosk back and get all their supplies back that had been wiped away by the tsunami and start their livelihoods again.

Holly Rustick 00:02:38:03

So it was it was such a cool experience that I was like, Wow, I like this. I like connecting money and mission. So then after the contract ended where I was at, I went to I went outside of D.C. for about a year and worked for an online virtual grant writing company. Right. And I was and that’s back in the day.

Holly Rustick 00:02:55:14

Like, you know, before that was a big thing, right? And it was so cool. And I was like, I loved having different clients from all over the world that could be all over the nation and the world. And doing writing these grants and just seeing different programs and learning about them. So I went on to working, going abroad again and doing my higher education, my master’s and Belgium, and working in the Middle East and doing that kind of on the side, like writing grants on the side is a little side income, right?

Holly Rustick 00:03:22:27

These are me. Like, why? Well, I worked abroad and then I’ve also worked in nonprofits after that. I worked in nonprofits for a long time, being a grant writer and a grant manager and all of that. But really, in 2014, I was like kind of hit the glass ceiling, wanted to serve more nonprofits, wanted to get back out there.

Holly Rustick 00:03:40:24

I liked having various clients. So start out a full time practice and then, you know, when I saw other people wanted to do the same thing, more grant writers were needed, right? So it was like, okay, now I want to train other kids. I was also teaching when I was abroad, so I love teaching too. So I was able to really get into that space and be like, Well, this is how I’ve been writing grants for a long time and securing money, so let me show you how to do it.

Holly Rustick 00:04:04:08

And then it was like, okay, but yeah, we want to learn how to write grants and this is great. But now I want to I also want to open my business to Holly. Right. They serve more non profit and there’s plenty of work. Right. So moved into that space as well.

Tammy Tilzey 00:04:16:24

I love that. I love that. That kind of mirrors what I feel here at founding technologies of you don’t have to pick one mission, one organization, what you do you get to see that variety and and really see your work as it’s applied to many organizations. That’s great. We looking and our audience our community here is is filled with funders and nonprofit organizations as well as some people who probably want to start their practice and other grant consultants.

Tammy Tilzey 00:04:48:19

But for the nonprofits out there, what should they consider when they’re hiring a grant consultant versus hiring a full time grant writer, if that’s their first foray into grants?

Holly Rustick 00:05:02:02

I love that question so much because like I said, I’ve been on both sides. I’ve worked inside a nonprofit and, you know, at a higher level, I was able to, you know, look at finances, look at how to manage operations. I’ve served on board of directors, but also being a consultant, right? So one of the main things that I really talk about, even in board training and everything is in strategic planning, is to look at your budget, right?

Holly Rustick 00:05:26:18

So first it comes down to can hiring a consultant actually be more advantageous for your budget? I know there’s been a lot of streamlining through COVID, right? A lot of kind of rehashing what actually works to support your operations. And a lot of times having staff on payroll and having to think long term and doing all the training.

Holly Rustick 00:05:46:11

And, you know, there’s a lot of of money that goes into an investment, that goes into hiring staff, you know. So, yes, a consultant might be more hourly or their package, but it’s for a period of time. And they’re focusing on one thing where if you hire a staff grant writer, they’re eventually going to be doing the fundraising.

Tammy Tilzey 00:06:06:24

You’re not going to be doing like.

Holly Rustick 00:06:08:12

Admin work and everything else that you’re paying them to do, right? So you’re not necessarily paying them necessarily for clear deliverables. A lot of times it’s an interesting thing, right? You’re kind of saying, here’s your hat, your tricks, and make it work. And, you know, so there’s there’s that the financial aspect could be you could actually balance your budget in your cash flow a little bit easier with consultants because you could budget a certain amount and know that they’re working on the one thing writing the grants, right?

Holly Rustick 00:06:37:01

For instance, instead of all the admin and all the other things, they have to figure that out. Right? But they’re going to be giving you deliverables. The other thing too, is managing people, right? When you have staff, you are managing people and you’re doing a lot of management. Yes, there’s some management with consultants. Absolutely. But it’s a lot less because you might have like a weekly meeting or a monthly meeting, but they’re really just working on deliverables and they’re sending those to you.

Holly Rustick 00:07:03:05

Right. So there’s a lot less management where in-house. That’s a lot of time. It’s a lot of investment once again to manage people. So there’s definitely that. I mean, so just overall, when you’re looking at should I hire staff writer or should I hire a consultant, it really goes to what your needs are as an organization. But if you can also like look at your budget and look at what is your time to manage people, right?

Holly Rustick 00:07:26:04

What is your opportunity time as well and what do you really need? Do you want someone just to write grants and to focus out and have an expert? Or do you want to train someone to be more of a general print writer that also will do other things. So yeah, yeah. Those are a couple.

Tammy Tilzey 00:07:42:11

Of what they might look like but there’s, there’s a lot. Yeah. Especially you don’t know, you know, if grants are going to be a great fit for your organization or if you have no grant expertize in-house, you know, maybe a combination of the two. If you’re not hiring a consultant to work alongside a staff member who’s maybe less experienced.

Tammy Tilzey 00:08:06:03

I love that.

Holly Rustick 00:08:07:05

Yeah. And there’s always that, you know, when you hire a staff that kind of nonprofits, I see this almost on every job opportunity. It’s like and and anything else like in the job description and anything else that the job requires.

Tammy Tilzey 00:08:18:14

Are going to view this as a sign, right? Yeah. Yeah. We’re consultants like, you know, we’re going to stick with the program.

Holly Rustick 00:08:27:12

Yeah. So there’s, there’s that and you know, and that’s what I see. A lot of times I’ll just hire a grant writer, but I want them to have all of this experience, all of this education, all of the things and that’s hard to find somebody sometimes that has all of the things and then you’re willing to pay it, right?

Holly Rustick 00:08:45:08

So there’s also that it’s like.

Tammy Tilzey 00:08:47:24

Oh, that’s.

Holly Rustick 00:08:48:16

That’s a lot. And then you want them to do other duties as assigned. Like it’s kind of you want them to be five different people and one sometimes. I see a lot of job descriptions out there like that. So that’s also something to kind of rethink. And I’ve seen I’ve actually been a part of a not a nonprofit on the board where we wanted to hire an executive director.

Holly Rustick 00:09:06:25

Once we wrote up the job description, we said, this is like five different people and let’s just outsource the different things and then have one part time ed that can kind of oversee it all. And that actually worked out really well, you know, instead of trying to find that one person that had it all.

Tammy Tilzey 00:09:23:22

So. Right.

Holly Rustick 00:09:24:19

Yeah, right.

Tammy Tilzey 00:09:25:09

Because then there’s still limited by time and you can go get Yeah. The best at that and and then they could focus do what you need. So are there questions or tips on what to look for if someone decides, yes, hiring a grant consultant is for me, you know, how how does that differ than hiring a grant employee.

Holly Rustick 00:09:50:08

Right? Absolutely. I mean, you would be looking at the contract, right? So whereas I kind of said deliverables before with a contract, it’s really the scope of work. Like what are they going to do specifically? Are they going to write X number of grants? Right. Are they going to? It’s a lot of times it’s not about the time that they’re going to work.

Holly Rustick 00:10:08:08

So as a staff, you’re like, I want you to work 40 hours a week. You know what I mean? Like and then you fill in the hours with a consultant. A lot of times they might just say, I will do this service at X amount. They’re not going to tell you the amount of hours. Some do, some don’t.

Holly Rustick 00:10:22:13

Right. But what you can look for, it’s not really about how much time they’re putting in. It’s about what they’re getting done. So that’s what I really like about contracts, is looking at the scope of work, what actually is going to be completed and what you know. And by what time. There’s usually an end duration of that contract, right?

Holly Rustick 00:10:40:12

Sometimes you can you can renew it and that sort of thing, but at least you both know, okay, it’s going to cost about X amount to do this and it’s going to be done by then. So I like that it’s clear. So you do need to look for clarity in that you don’t want you know, you want to see that there’s protection on both sides, obviously, but to really make sure that the contract makes sense for you.

Holly Rustick 00:11:03:13

So you might want to say, well, you know, can we just meet weekly, just so I can see where your progress is at? Or can you send me a weekly report from the nonprofit side like you’re saying, Hey, can you just send me our weekly report just so I can you know, I can kind of be aware of where you’re at with the contract and with the scope of work, and that’s fine, too.

Holly Rustick 00:11:19:29

So, you know, definitely make sure that there is a contract one, right. And that clearly spells out what you want done. Right? So and then what about the time delivery? Delivery of how you want it done and when you want it done and that it meets both sides expectations. Right. Very clear. So if the consultant is saying a lot of times the consultant, the grant writer will put in there, they will only document by a certain amount of time to submit for grant.

Holly Rustick 00:11:46:18

Then you have to be aware and read that contract because if you don’t get them that information, they might not be able to submit for that grant. Right. So there are both sides clear deliverables and I do actually like that holds accountability for both sides and it makes it just easy because you have something to follow. It’s not immediate.

Tammy Tilzey 00:12:03:14

Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. Clearly spelled out. Oh, so back back to the mindset of someone who’s looking to discover whether putting out their own shingle and being a grant consultant is for them. What type of questions do you usually get when when folks are at that point in their career?

Holly Rustick 00:12:24:21

I love this part so much. This is like the most fun, right? Because I have people all over it’s all over the map. Everybody has a different needs and different they’re in different places in their lives for why they want to start a business. So entrepreneurs are so much fun to me, and that’s what consultants are. They’re definitely entrepreneurs.

Holly Rustick 00:12:41:29

And, you know, they’ll come to me some I’m retiring, you know, and they want to keep doing some side work that’s meaningful. And they think, well, that would be really interesting to help nonprofits get money, you know, and it’s funny because a lot of grant writers are actually introverts as well. They want to be behind the scenes. They don’t want to be out there at the fundraisers doing the you know, selling the raffle tickets or anything like that.

Holly Rustick 00:13:03:07

Nothing wrong with that. But they like more being working from home and kind of working on their own, right. So, you know, a lot of people in retirement, I also have people who are younger and just have kids and need to stay home. Right. And do something. They still want to work. They still want to be able to, you know, keep working.

Holly Rustick 00:13:21:13

But they have a baby and they. What time off? I’ve had military spouses come to me because their their spouse moves every two years and it’s hard to find take six months to even find a job sometimes and then a lot of people don’t want to hire them because they know they’re going to be moving, you know, so they like to do this because they can take it with them wherever they go.

Holly Rustick 00:13:39:19

It’s a virtual it can be a virtual job, you know. So that’s been really great. And then I’m a single mom like this is served me and my lifestyle. You know, I can pick up my daughter from school. I can I can be more flexible. So even just from a personal point of view. But there are so many different different goals and different reasons for wanting to go in this work.

Holly Rustick 00:14:00:19

But a lot of it comes down to people want more flexibility for one reason or another, and they want to do it at their own terms and they want to do something meaningful, right? They want to do something that they can see the results of. And when you when and secure awards for nonprofit and you can see the work that’s being done in the communities, it’s really fulfilling, right?

Holly Rustick 00:14:20:29

So it’s it is a fulfilling job. But, you know, some people want a side hustle, you know, just on the side. Some people want a full blown business. Some people want a huge business where they hire employees. It’s all depends on what your goals are, what your lifestyle is, and how you want to shape it. It’s your business, right?

Holly Rustick 00:14:40:02

So yeah.

Tammy Tilzey 00:14:41:27

Excellent. That that is true. There’s so much so many reasons why someone might be interested in that. And, you know, just burn out bad experiences. But again, still wanting to see that impact because that’s that’s one thing that I, I imagine has got to be the funnest part is celebrating when you get awarded. And then also, like you said, seeing the results of that grant being delivered and utilized to achieve the mission, that’s, that’s awesome.

Holly Rustick 00:15:15:06

Yeah. Like I’ve had people come up to me and be like, I have a job because of you, because of what you did, and it’s like, so cool, right? And it’s because a lot of people just don’t see it because you are behind the scenes. So when you do see the impact and we see, okay, that’s a building there and I got the funding for that building or whatever it is.

Holly Rustick 00:15:31:17

Right. It’s really cool. But but going back to what you just kind of pointed out, because there’s also burnout with some of the reasons people want to start their own consultancy is because they’ve been working in a nonprofit maybe or in corporate world, and they’re burned out and they want something new. We’ve seen a lot of that actually through the great resignation, which I like to call the great redistribution.

Tammy Tilzey 00:15:53:05

But I know it’s changed people.

Holly Rustick 00:15:55:12

Around and so I have seen that as well. As far as glass ceilings at nonprofits not being able to get a living wage at a nonprofit because of certain wages low. So there’s those reasons to people want to step into and become a consultant. They’re like, I have this skill. I’ve been doing this at a nonprofit. Now I want to open my own practice so I can help more people, but I can also put food on my table and like have a have a better lifestyle as well.

Holly Rustick 00:16:21:09

So definitely there’s there’s those reasons, too. Yeah.

Tammy Tilzey 00:16:25:10

Yes. Yes. And and there’s challenges, I imagine in consulting as well because I could probably still find a way to burn myself out no matter where I’m going to put boundaries. Right. Yes.

Holly Rustick 00:16:38:09

Yeah. So many. Oh, they start because they’re like, I want more time, I want more flexibility. And then you’re operating a business, you’re working again.

Tammy Tilzey 00:16:46:26

You know what? Yeah.

Holly Rustick 00:16:50:28

So yeah, definitely challenges there too.

Tammy Tilzey 00:16:54:17

Speaking of challenges, what what are some of the other struggles that you see freelance grant writers who are just getting started? What are some of the stages, their early, early problems they run into?

Holly Rustick 00:17:07:22

Oh, man, you know, it’s cool because opening a business, you have to face internal fears and like you have to you change internally like it is a whole thing. So there’s nothing like personal development, which is like opening a business. If you want to do some personal development and change up your life a little bit, open a business like it is going to like throw you on the floor and pick you up and really like it’s all over the place.

Holly Rustick 00:17:32:01

So I mean, there’s a lot in the beginning, especially there’s a lot of learning curve. Like the learning curve is like everything because if you’re looking at, Oh, I need a website and I need an email provider or I need to, you know, now I need to find grants or you know what I mean? Now I need to figure out how to do my my accounting.

Holly Rustick 00:17:48:14

I know all of the things so it can feel very overwhelming in the beginning. And that’s why I do recommend a lot of people just start on the site right? Start, you know. And the other thing the other challenge too is, you know, you might be you run into like scarcity mentality or imposter syndrome like a lot of these things, right?

Holly Rustick 00:18:07:05

Are real or you think, oh, I was getting paid $25 an hour or whatever it is at the nonprofit. So I’ll just charge $25 an hour when you forget that you have to pay for your insurance, your taxes, your retirement, everything else, right? So there there’s that. There’s definitely learning curves and there’s internal kind of process that you go through that you face.

Holly Rustick 00:18:29:03

And then also just like, where do you get clients, right? Figuring out how to market surgery and all that out. So there’s definitely challenges and that’s why it’s important to talk to other people who have done it right to maybe start a little slower, get a client before you quit your full time job. All of those kind of things get your feet wet because yeah, you just kind of like I’m done and then I’m going to open this and I’m going to get clients tomorrow.

Holly Rustick 00:18:52:07

Like, could work, but no one’s an overnight success, right?

Tammy Tilzey 00:18:56:16

So yeah. Oh, so tell me a little bit more about some of what you offer at your organization, grant writing and funding for for people who to, to use to to decide or to make make their their practice more successful.

Holly Rustick 00:19:19:07

Yeah. So I have developed a grant writing and funding hub haven, which is a free resource. So people can definitely go over to grant writing and find income. And it’s a beautiful platform where I actually have like a grant formula. It’s a mini video training. So if you want to learn more about Grant, I have a whole bunch of resources and I have a whole bunch of resources.

Holly Rustick 00:19:36:03

Five Steps to Becoming a Freelance Grant Writer. So if you’re interested in that, I have resources. So if you’re interested just in getting your nonprofit more grant ready, I have resources in there so people can definitely check all that out and then if they’re ready for the next stage, I have master courses, I have a grant writing master course.

Holly Rustick 00:19:52:17

How to Become a Freelance Grant Writer Master Course. I even have a mentorship in that because I know that’s important for like a long term journey, right? With all those learning curves and getting feedback and how much do I price and all of those things, we need a community. So I’ve built a community for that as well. And then we have a bunch of other stuff so they can definitely check it out.

Holly Rustick 00:20:10:06

We also have a podcast grant writing and funding dot com. They can see all of the different things that we have there.

Tammy Tilzey 00:20:16:04

Excellent. And we’ll definitely include those links in our show notes. And speaking of training and and a resources for Grant Consultants, we are excited, so excited to sponsor this upcoming nonprofit consulting conference that you are working on in August. And so that is very exciting. It’s not specific to Grant’s grant writers, correct? It’s just nonprofit. So it could include consultants of all types, right?

Holly Rustick 00:20:50:11


Tammy Tilzey 00:20:51:04

Benefit from that.

Holly Rustick 00:20:52:17

That also the nonprofit consultants. So yeah, they I mean, even, you know, some people that come to me, they also do strategic planning, you know, social media like for nonprofits specifically. So the nonprofit consulting conference on August 25th and 26, the two day conference sponsored by Fountain Technologies. Yeah, we’re super excited. We already have over ten speakers. It is a full deck.

Holly Rustick 00:21:13:27

We have ton of people signing up. We have networking room available. It is going to get so many resources available as well. And it’s it’s a lot about like how to ask for more, how to balance your books, how to do your pricing right, how to look into internally and intuitively for some of that imposter syndrome that you’re talking about.

Holly Rustick 00:21:33:19

So it gives you the practical more and more of like the internal resources to really move forward as a nonprofit consultant, whether you’re just thinking about starting line or you’re seasoned and you want to grow your business. So we appreciate you guys coming on. I’m super excited about it.

Tammy Tilzey 00:21:49:16

I am, too. I haven’t seen much in this area for Grant Consultants for Support and Community and like you said, asking your peers, I mean, that’s going to be so helpful and so many of the problems you get, answer the questions one by one. But hey, let’s get together and get all these great minds together and and train in a group.

Tammy Tilzey 00:22:09:15

I love that. And also, I. I could just talk to you forever. Here’s a few more questions. Um, are there directories or places that nonprofit organizations or sometimes we even have funders who want to hire on retainer consultants for nonprofits as part of a benefit to help them find more fundraising and funds aside from the grants that they’re giving them.

Tammy Tilzey 00:22:40:03

So how how can someone find consultants that may be a good match for maybe what their mission is or other considerations?

Holly Rustick 00:22:50:27

Yeah, I think it’s really I mean, they can definitely go to my website. I have some grant writers I vetted that are for hire.

Tammy Tilzey 00:22:57:23

I’ll give you that. But there.

Holly Rustick 00:22:59:00

It is. You know, they can go to LinkedIn. I know there was one page I think called I grant writers dot com as well that had a lot of grant writers listed. So there’s definitely that. So there are some different networks as well. I know does a lot to be able to provide a directory of grant writers, right?

Holly Rustick 00:23:15:14

So there is definitely those types of resources available and I think that is so key is funders like out there are listening and like you just said that they want to hire grant writers maybe for an organization to help them out. That is one of the best things they can do. Building capacity and and having because a lot of the times in nonprofits will say, well, I want to hire, hire.

Holly Rustick 00:23:37:16

You want to hire, you know, a grant writer, but I don’t have the money. It’s kind of like the chicken or the egg, you know what I mean? Like they’re kind of stuck in this place and they need the grant writer, but they don’t have the money. And then the grant can’t always pay for the grant writer. Right.

Holly Rustick 00:23:50:23

So that’s tricky, too, because of budget restrictions and they need to use unrestricted funds to pay for that. So I mean, just to have that that blessing like could totally change sector, right? You know what I mean in a good way, I think. You think so, funder.

Tammy Tilzey 00:24:05:23

Yes, yeah, I agree. I agree. I think it’s great. And there’s so many things that a nonprofit struggles with, sort of, like you said, when you go out on your own with your own business, same thing. You know, there’s it’s it’s just more than doing this the program and working towards the mission. You got to keep.

Holly Rustick 00:24:24:15

Well to run a business.

Tammy Tilzey 00:24:25:17

You run the business, right. And so software or expertize, anything that can help that out, you know, the nonprofits definitely need that support to to really get to a point where they’re more sustainable on their own from from their own funding streams. I like that insight there. Thank you. Another thing the on on that area that I wanted to ask is how do you see things evolving with with grants in terms of there’s a lot of dynamics of, you know, let’s let’s push for unrestricted funds?

Tammy Tilzey 00:25:08:21

Or are there some trends going on that that affect both grant, you know, writers at the nonprofit or consultants.

Holly Rustick 00:25:17:16

Yeah, that’s such a good question. And I know I was really tracking that. I’ve been tracking that throughout the pandemic as well and have been able to do some research to say pre-pandemic, right. Where we were especially looking at federal funds, a little bit easier to look at this more data that’s collected for federal funds. But, you know, to look at that and to say, hey, what was going on in 2019 to understand what’s going on in the pandemic?

Holly Rustick 00:25:41:07

And we did see a lot more grants coming out 2020, obviously, 2021. And even in 2022, we’re seeing the trends really, even though some of the trends, some of the numbers of grants started going down, but the amount is still going up. So that is a good thing. But what we’ve also seen is it’s not just like the amounts gone up for the same type of nonprofit priority shifts have happened across the board.

Holly Rustick 00:26:07:25

So that’s another thing. Obviously, you would know that health care, education, those types of food security, those types of grants have gone up in the amount and in the number and in the the like, the value, right. Because there’s been such a need. So like a lot of animal shelters are like arts organizations, they might be like, where’s our money?

Tammy Tilzey 00:26:30:01

We used to have these grants.

Holly Rustick 00:26:31:17

Every year and now now our the Fund Foundation or the federal grant program has shifted priority and is giving to these other places. Right. So I have seen those kind of trends happen. Absolutely. And it is something to be aware of and to know so you can prepare for that. So to know like, okay, do we need to start asking more corporates?

Holly Rustick 00:26:54:11

Do we need to start doing different types of fundraising? Do you know what I mean? Like what other types of things besides grant funding? And the other thing is, yeah, I’m a grant writer. Yeah, I love Grant, but it shouldn’t be your only stream of income as a nonprofit. It should definitely just be one stream of income. Right.

Holly Rustick 00:27:11:01

And you should also look at what are the other streams coming in for a healthy nonprofit, because grants have certain time durations, many of them do, and a lot of them are seed moneys or expansion moneys. They’re not meant to be around forever. Right. So that still holds true. We have seen and just touch on your point about unrestricted funds.

Holly Rustick 00:27:31:12

Yes, there definitely has been a push for that, and I think that’s a good thing. Managing restricted funds is difficult, right? It can be very difficult for a nonprofit.

Tammy Tilzey 00:27:42:04

Definitely. Definitely. Yeah.

Holly Rustick 00:27:44:03

Yeah. So we have see more of this like, okay, funders know you’re going to still reach your mission and you just need the money to figure out where you need to put it right here. I mean.

Tammy Tilzey 00:27:53:15

Like. Yeah, I do. I mean, what’s the hottest thing? Yes.

Holly Rustick 00:27:57:07

Yeah, I jumping through the hoops, having to do this many pages this time, this page restrictions, all of the things. It can be really overwhelming. And that’s why there’s technical grant writers out there. But, you know, there’s you could do so much more with your time as a nonprofit point of view a lot of times than just sit around and write grants all day.

Holly Rustick 00:28:17:02

Right. You know what I mean? So it is good to have grants, and that’s me as a grant writer saying that. But it’s also good to know that if they’re easier to write because they just support the mission of the nonprofit, that can help you do more things as well. So I do think there’s a little bit of a shift moving towards unrestricted funds, streamlining online applications, which can sometimes be frustrating, but at least we’re getting a little bit easier and not have.

Holly Rustick 00:28:41:24

I remember I was back in the day, I mean.

Tammy Tilzey 00:28:45:03

People at the post office all the.

Holly Rustick 00:28:46:29

Time and FedEx and mailing and multiple copies of the grant. Yeah.

Tammy Tilzey 00:28:51:08

So I don’t.

Holly Rustick 00:28:52:29


Tammy Tilzey 00:28:55:19

Exactly I remember those days.

Holly Rustick 00:28:57:27

So yeah. So there’s, there are definitely technology where we’re at is starting to streamline. One thing I have seen, this is an interesting trend just on the side and I don’t really care for this is that I’ve been seeing funders ask you to crowdfund and they’ll match you with a grant. So I’ve been seeing more of that and I don’t really like that.

Holly Rustick 00:29:19:18

And I get what they’re doing. They’re trying to see like, does your community support you? Are you also, you know, like I understand matching to a certain point, but I just feel like, oh my gosh, you have to write a grant application and do a crowdfunder. Like, that’s a lot of work, you know. So I think sometimes it’s the intention is good, but the work and deliver delivery is unrealistic for a number on that.

Tammy Tilzey 00:29:39:23

And in coordination with all of those efforts to get all or nothing, you know, it’s yeah.

Holly Rustick 00:29:45:19

Those are different skills, you know, like you have to have like you understand how to crowdfund. It’s a, it’s a thing in its own right.

Tammy Tilzey 00:29:53:22

You’re making stuff. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yes. Well I do want to back up a little bit. I, I, we’ve said a couple times and that stands for Grant Professionals Association and I’ll, I’ll throw in the show notes for that. But one of the things that you you talked a little bit about is when I asked you about where to find Grant Consultants, the one thing that I’ve noticed as as we’ve been in this sector is that unexpectedly, even you people may think that it’s really competitive.

Tammy Tilzey 00:30:29:28

And how do you grant writers work with each other? And what I have seen is just this this really great sharing of opportunities like, hey, this doesn’t fit what I could do right now. Or You’re a better expert at this. And, you know, really these informal relationships and sharing of opportunities and looking out for the greater good in terms of what is a fit.

Tammy Tilzey 00:30:59:15

Can you talk a little bit about your experience with that?

Holly Rustick 00:31:02:28

I love that so much. Yeah. So that’s and that’s such a great thing at the nonprofit consulting conference will definitely be, like I said, having that networking space right, having people come together and being able to collaborate because that is so important. And I do see that heart of collaboration with a lot of nonprofit consultant and sometimes they have a little bit like, are we supposed to collaborate or aren’t we competitors?

Holly Rustick 00:31:26:25

And, and, but they kind of like get past it because when you realize the number of nonprofit, there’s over 1.7 million nonprofits registered in the United States alone. Right. I mean, even here in the small island of Guam, we have over a thousand nonprofits registered. There’s no way I can serve them all, you know.

Tammy Tilzey 00:31:43:26

So even in.

Holly Rustick 00:31:44:20

In a small geographic area, I’m training other people to be freelance grant writers so they can also serve the nonprofit that are in our small area. So you’re going to be blown away, even in your geographic area, about how many nonprofits there really are and how much work is available. And then when you go virtual regional online, all of that.

Holly Rustick 00:32:04:13

There is so much work out there that I have started doing a list on my website. Like I mentioned, grant writers for hire because I can’t serve all the nonprofit, you know what I mean? Like I would rather.

Tammy Tilzey 00:32:15:11


Holly Rustick 00:32:16:01

Yeah. I’d rather vet their work and be like, here you go. You can be listed on my website after I that you so you know to make sure you can also get work and all of that and they’re super happy about it because it’s just a great way to get out there because once you’re out there, it’s easy to get clients honestly, and it’s almost overwhelming.

Holly Rustick 00:32:33:05

And a lot of times when it’s grant season, you do have to refer out or you’re going to you don’t want to say no, you know what I.

Tammy Tilzey 00:32:38:10

Mean, right? Yeah. Yeah. Provide them with a somewhere else to look. That is also good for them. Yeah. Yeah.

Holly Rustick 00:32:46:04

So my, you know, in the mentorship, they, they share clients, they bid on proposals together, all of the things because it’s also isolating work. It can be. And like I mentioned, a lot of people are introverts, but still you want that interaction, you want eyes on the grant. You want to go back and forth is just makes it a better process.

Holly Rustick 00:33:02:28

So a lot of people would even like subcontract out people or they’ll just refer. There’s different ways you can do it or they’ll bid on a project together and do like a joint venture, right? So there is definitely different ways that you can you can do this and then you don’t have to say no and the other thing is karma always exists and you’ll get those referrals back to you as well.

Holly Rustick 00:33:24:08

So it’s it’s really cool. I mean, I love working in this industry and just seeing that heart of collaboration and seeing how well it it’s really skyrocketed. Everyone’s business and the work that they’re doing right, they’re able to do more work, help, more profit. There’s more good things in the world because of that part of collaboration.

Tammy Tilzey 00:33:44:09

Yes, that’s all. Well, I just thought of a question that some of our funders have asked, so let me put this let me spring this on you. Sometimes the use of a consultant may be viewed differently by funders because they know that this person isn’t really an employee of the nonprofit. So they may worry about, okay, is this contact going to be there long term and all of that when they’re filling out an online application or something like that?

Tammy Tilzey 00:34:21:05

How do you work with nonprofits as a grant consultant to to make it a part of, you know, the a power triangle again, where it’s the best of everything but you you aren’t the main point contact that the nonprofit maintains that relationship. How do you have advice in that area?

Holly Rustick 00:34:42:05

Yes, and that is such a good question. I’m really glad you asked that, because I do see that a lot. And I’ve had so many nonprofits and I used to be this way back in the beginning and I learned my lesson is submitting grants on their behalf and all of that right where it was like, you know, we’re opening up new email addresses that, you know what I mean?

Holly Rustick 00:35:00:19

So they can have that email address. Like it’s a tricky thing because there’s so many online application ads nowadays. So the nonprofits like Well, you’re the consultant used to do it from writing the grant to submitting the grant. Submitting the grant always needs to be spelled out in contract. So this is one thing to kind of get kind of before, but the funder thinks, right, you first got to figure it out between the consultant and the nonprofit who is going to submit the grant.

Holly Rustick 00:35:26:09

So I don’t like to submit the grant as a consultant. I say this is your responsibility. It is ready. I will help you. We can go online together. I can screen share and show you how to do it. But you need to do it. You need to be checking your email. I do. I do like that. And some consultants will do it as an added fee and all that.

Holly Rustick 00:35:45:14

But there is that disconnect, right? There can be a disconnect and I’d rather have it in a year if I’m not working with that nonprofit anymore. They’re still getting direct communication from the foundation, and I think that’s very important. Yeah, because you are kind of a ghostwriter, you know what I mean? You represent the nonprofit you’re writing as if you are part of the nonprofit.

Holly Rustick 00:36:05:23

But and you can call you can call up the program officer at funding offices if I need for funding sources and talk to them. But you’re talking to them on behalf and I’m a consultant. You’re like I, you know, I’m calling from the name of the nonprofit. Like, I’m always representing that nonprofit. Right? So there’s that, too. I do like the nonprofit to submit, and I think that kind of then it mitigates the question you asked in a way.

Holly Rustick 00:36:31:09

Then how do funding sources get scared about the consultant thing right, exactly.

Tammy Tilzey 00:36:35:10

Because the agreement and the the whole, you know, who’s going to deliver on it is is a responsibility and who’s promising do what’s in the grant if it’s awarded and accepted is the nonprofit, not the consultant.

Holly Rustick 00:36:49:27

So yeah, I think you can write the consultant into that. That’s fine. Yeah. Right. Yeah. I mean those are opportunities. But once again, it goes back to that question about the contract. Right. How do you start like the contract is like looking at the. So having this spelled out is so important. So yeah, absolutely. I love that.

Tammy Tilzey 00:37:10:26

Oh, great. All of this has been so helpful. Thank you so much, Holly, for helping our community learn more about consultants and consultancy building your own organization. There is an option in there grant careers. And I want to remind our listeners that we’ll be including the links both to Holly Holly’s website and her contact information and some of the other resources that we have mentioned already.

Tammy Tilzey 00:37:37:20

We really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to join us. Do you have any final thoughts or advice that you want to leave our listeners with?

Holly Rustick 00:37:47:24

Yeah, I just want to say, you know, really think about what you want, right? So if you’re working in a nonprofit, you know, you usually think about opening a business. I mean, that could be fantastic. But you could also maybe negotiate within and and set your goals aside, too. So there’s definitely options there. And, you know, never feel like you’re you’re forced against a wall like you can always have options right in your career.

Holly Rustick 00:38:13:20

So I think that’s really important to know. And then also I just wanted to say GAM, I would love to see everyone who’s thinking about becoming, you know, this is interesting to you the subject today or have you already in it and you’re like, oh, yeah, I’m totally resonating with all of it. Definitely. Come in. Check out the nonprofit consulting conference on August 28th or 20 1526, and we would love to see you there so we can give you more resources and really help you in this journey and collaborate with you.

Holly Rustick 00:38:39:26

So thank you so much. So, Tami, for having me on. This has been such a great thank you. Thank you for being a presenter at our conference and that’s cool. Yeah.

Tammy Tilzey 00:38:47:23

I’m so excited for it and yeah, exactly what she said. I think it’ll be a great conference. So if anyone has learned anything from today’s Connected Philanthropy podcast, or if you think someone else might please share it with others who could benefit from it. And we look forward to connecting on future webinars, podcasts and our community discussions. We wish you all the best success and again, thank you for all you do.

Tammy Tilzey 00:39:20:15

Take care.

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