Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn’t Seliger + Associates work for contingent fees?

In most cases, grant preparation costs or fees cannot be paid from a grant, unless such costs are included as eligible cost items in the RFP budget instructions and your budget request. Thus, proposing to trade grant writing services for a percentage of grant funds is generally unethical and/or illegal. Grant preparation costs and fees are usually paid from other agency resources, such as individual donations, reserves, indirect cost recovery, etc. (top)

I’m thinking about setting up a nonprofit corporation. When should I start looking for grants?

Following the submission of an application, it takes the IRS up to six months to issue a letter of determination of tax exemption under Section 501(c) of the tax code. There is no point in conducting grant source research or submitting proposals until you either have the letter of determination in hand or are within a month or two of receiving it. While there are rare exceptions, to be eligible for the vast majority of grants, you must have a 501(c)3 letter. (top)

Does Seliger + Associates offer grant writing seminars?

Seliger + Associates primarily prepares complete and technically correct proposals. Unlike most would-be grant writers, we don’t focus on providing grant writing seminars. That being said, we are willing to provide grant writing training in some circumstances. Our standard rate is $2,000 for a single-day event, or $5,000 for three days. Still, many novice grant writers would be better served by taking English composition or journalism classes at a local college. The only way to learn to become a grant writer is by writing many proposals. We can help you get started. Grant writing training is provided by Jake Seliger, who has taught college-level writing classes at a variety of schools, including the University of Arizona and the City University of New York (CUNY) Baruch. (top)

Does Seliger + Associates ever work for businesses or individuals?

While there are exceptions, the vast majority of grants are made to nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 organizations or public agencies, not businesses or individuals. The major exceptions to this rule involve various alternative energy, research and technology project concepts. Click here to learn more about circumstances in which we will work for businesses or individuals.

You may receive junk e-mail pitches or see TV ads touting grants for individuals or businesses, but these are generally misrepresentations at best. Any money you spend on guidebooks or seminars will probably be wasted. If you are low-income, however, you may qualify for certain grants and low interest loans for such purposes as home repair, first-time home buying and the like. You should contact your local city or county community development or housing department to check eligibility.

Why doesn’t Seliger + Associates calculate a grant writing “success” rate?

Seliger + Associates does not attempt to calculate rate of funded grants for several reasons. First, we work for all kinds of public and nonprofit agencies, large and small, old and new. This means that some have strong track records with funders, while others are attempting to enter new service areas. Additionally, we do not screen clients for their funding “potential.” Rather, we generally accept any assignment, provided that we have the capacity to meet the deadline and the applicant appears to be eligible. Finally, our clients often do not tell us when they are funded. In some ways, grant writing is like playing the lotto.

To win the lotto, you must buy a ticket; the more tickets you buy, the better your chances. To receive a grant, you must submit a technically correct proposal for a program for which your agency is eligible. After that, funding decisions depend on many variables, such as the number of applications submitted, mood of the reviewers, geographic and political considerations and many other factors not easily identifiable.

The more high quality proposals you submit for different programs, the more grants you are likely to receive; as you get proposals funded, funders are also more likely to give you grants. Over time, you should achieve a 25% – 50% success rate. If less than 25% of your proposals are being funded, you’re probably doing something wrong (e.g., incomplete application packages, ineligible applicant, etc.). If more than 50% of your grants are being funded, you probably are not stretching the envelop far enough by trying to get grants to extend your agency’s service capabilities.

Since we’re not the funder, we can’t guarantee that you’ll be funded, but we prepare technically correct proposals that will at least allow you to be fundable.


Does Seliger + Associates hire independent contractor grant writers?

From time to time, Seliger + Associates does use independent contractor grant writers. Unless there is a specific notice on our web site, we do not need additional contract personnel. We do not read or review unsolicited resumes, writing samples, etc., so do not e-mail or mail your qualifications. (top)

How much will a grant proposal cost to prepare and does the amount being requested impact the fee?

Our fees to prepare most government grant proposals range from $6,000 — $15,000, depending on the complexity of the application and the amount of time we have to complete the assignment. Most individual foundation proposals range from $1,500 — $6,000, depending on the guidance provided by the foundation. Fees are never based on the amount being requested, because we do not work for contingent fees. (top)

Does Seliger + Associates have a special relationship with funders?

Seliger + Associates does not have any special relationships with funders and never attempts to influence funding decisions through lobbying efforts. Funders typically do not know about our involvement and we are transparent in the proposal development process. Our goal is to prepare high quality, technically correct proposals that enable our clients to be considered for funding. (top)

Does Seliger + Associates provide a discount for nonprofit organizations or do you donate your services for a good cause?

Seliger + Associates’ fees are the same for all clients, including nonprofits, since they make up a large percentage of our client pool. All of our clients have good causes, but we do not donate our services. (top)

I’m confused by the many acronyms in grant writing. What do they mean?

The world of grant writing is filled with acronyms. You can find an updated list of acronyms on our blog, Grant Writing Confidential. In addition, here are some common ones: LEA (local education agency, e.g. school district); SEA (state education agency), IHE (institution of higher education, e.g. college/university); RFP (request for proposals); RFA (request for funding assistance); SGA (solicitation for grant assistance); NOFA (notice of funding availability); HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development); CDBG (Community Development Block Grant Program); CSBG (Community Services Block Grant Program); EDA (Economic Development Administration); EDR (Economic Development Representative); EPA (Environmental Protection Agency); DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services); SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration); GFA (Guidance for Applicants); PA (Program Announcement); OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; COPS (Community Oriented Police Services); CBO (community-based organization); FBO (faith-based organization); FY (fiscal year); and on and on. (top)

If my organization hires you, what do we have to do?

Once a client decides to hire us, we’ll send the client a contract, invoice for the first half of our fee, and an optional credit card charge form. When our client returns an executed contract and required deposit to us, a time will be set to scope the project concept in detail over the phone. This will take about an hour and is like being interviewed by a reporter. Seliger + Associates will then send a documents memo to our client, detailing the items we need from your organization to assemble a technically correct grants.gov or other submission package; write the narrative, which typically goes through three drafts; and prepare the grants.gov kit or other submission package for your review and upload/submittal in advance of deadline. You’ll need to review the submission package and press the “upload” button.

If your organization hires us, in most cases, you’ll only need to spend about an hour with us on the phone; provide any documents that are required by the funder; read the proposal drafts; and press submit. We do all the rest. In many ways, we’re like a self-cleaning oven: set us and forget us. (top)