Cheryl L. Kester is owner of the grants consulting firm The Kester Group, LLC. The firm provides proposal writing, program design, prospect research, and training for non-profits, community-based organizations, and municipalities.

Cheryl is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and is a member of the Grant Professional Association (GPA). She has over 20 years experience in the non-profit sector. She frequently makes conference and workshop presentations on grants and other topics at local, regional and national Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) meetings and GPA national conferences. She served as president of the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2006 and is the GPA State Representative for Arkansas.

Cheryl has published articles on the grants profession in “Grants and Foundation Review,” the “National Charter School Clearinghouse Newsletter,” and the journal of the AAGP. She is a subject-matter expert and question-developer for the CFRE exam. Cheryl is an experienced grant reviewer, grant review panel chairperson and trainer of grant reviewers, having reviewed grants for the United Way, Corporation for Commuinity and National Service (AmeriCorps), the Institute for Youth Development, the federal Administration of Children and Families Compassion Capital Fund Targeted Mini-Grants and the ACF's Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration Grants.

Prior to joining the firm, she was Director of Grants and Foundation Relations at John Brown University where she was also an adjunct instructor of English. She has worked for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and the Folger Shakespeare Library, both in Washington, DC.

Kester holds a B.A. in Honors English from John Brown University and an M.A. from Georgetown University. Her continuing professional education includes numerous CASE, AFP, and GPA conferences, general fundraising conferences, and proposal development and writing workshops sponsored by CASE, ACUO, the federal government, and CCCU.

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How Federal Grants Work

In our book and workbook, we delve into the details of how to find the right grant opportunities and how to write an excellent proposal. In this article, excerpted from our book, we provide an overview of the federal grants process. We promise, no quiz at the end. First....

Keeping it Positive and Keeping it Local

Keeping your proposals positive and locally focused isn’t always easy. Thus, it’s very important to remember, “It’s the opportunity, stupid.” With apologies to a former presidential candidate many of our readers are probably too young to remember, I urge grant professionals everywhere to adopt this new mantra. (Okay, my mother would never allow her children…

Writing Foundation Grants for Faith-Based Organizations

In most regards, writing competitive grant proposals for faith-based organizations is little different from writing successful proposals on behalf of any organization. The same fundamentals apply: do your research, tell a clear story, and make the need compelling. The most important skills to develop when writing for faith-based organizations are the ability to: 1) recognize…

Tips and Tricks for Cutting Content When Space is Tight

Since my own writing style is to “spew” first and polish later, I usually have to cut content to meet space requirements. Even though I have been called “The Queen of Cutting,” last fall presented some challenges to even my editing skills. In one instance, a federal program (which usually allows an 80-page application) allowed…

Getting the Information Your Proposal Needs from Others

I have written articles for Grants and Foundation Review and spoken at conferences about the vital role that grant professionals play in program planning because they know how to turn a project idea into something fundable. Almost inevitably, someone raises a hand and asks the age-old question, “How do you get the information from the…

Developing Skills and Techniques to Make Yourself Valuable at Work

Especially during times of economic weakness, we are interested in ways to make ourselves stand out at work – for bosses and other leaders to recognize our true value. Of course, as grant professionals, we are expected to raise funds by producing excellent grant proposals. That goes without saying. But it has been my experience that…