Chapter Member Spotlights

June 2022 Member Spotlight:

Holly Loff, Sage Grant Writing & Consulting

CO GPA Engagement Committee


How did you become a grant pro?

My story is similar to many here: I didn’t plan it. It just happened. I earned a resource conservation (environmental science) degree and found most of my early jobs in the nonprofit sector. Anytime I created a new program or project, I had to write grants to make them happen. I enjoyed the task and found success, so I started taking classes (etc.), and here I am.

During your career, what has been your most exciting grant?

In my first “real” job, I wrote a grant that I thought was a slam dunk for a specific funder. I was incredibly disappointed to get a rejection letter from them, but a week later, we received a (personal) check from the foundation’s president. A letter accompanied the check explaining that the foundation’s interests were changing and that she disagreed with the change. She felt our project aligned perfectly with them and wanted to fund it herself. Although this foundation had some apparent internal issues to work through, I was elated! The experience made me realize that real people with passion, like mine, were on the other side of the grant process.

What do you like most about grant work?

So many aspects. I like talking with my clients and hearing their infectious passion and drive; sometimes, it is buried under a good layer of exhaustion, but it is always there. I enjoy “the hunt” when searching for grants- that moment when you find a funder that seems tailor-made for your nonprofit. I enjoy sinking into the flow of writing with my fingers sailing on the keys. Finally, I love getting the news that a grant has been awarded- it is a euphoric moment.

What is one tip you share with new grant pros?

Don’t tweak the project to fit the funder. “Oh, if we just add x to the program, we are a perfect fit.” Avoid the temptation.

What is your favorite strategy for online applications with word/character limits?

This strategy isn’t mine- I got it from GrantZone a few months ago. Someone posted their “Lorem ipsum character count” cheat sheet (thank you!), and I love it! I open up that document, copy the number of allowed characters, and then paste it into my working document for the grant. I can reference it with a glance, preventing me from constantly using the word count feature, which messes up my flow. I wait to use the counter until I am done writing.

If you could change one thing about the world of grants, what would it be?

Simplify! I get frustrated with overly long applications. .

As a grant professional, how do you like to be appreciated?

I am happy with a sincere thank you from their staff and board (especially if I get to see/hear their genuine elation/celebration). Sharing my name is a nice touch.

Describe your approach to grants in five words or less.

Keep it brief, focused, passionate

How do you like to unwind?

Gardening, reading, or hanging out with friends/family (preferably with a glass of wine in hand).

What brings you joy?

Trail running, skiing, rafting, paddleboarding, hiking/backpacking, belly laughs, and seeing my two kids accomplish a hard-earned goal.

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. They’re strong women, working moms, intelligent, and hilarious. Neither of them pulls any punches, and I appreciate that (because I always worry about offending someone).

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m a published photographer! But there is a funny story about how that happened. Years ago, the nonprofit I worked at (a river org) had an event where a professional photographer/author, Tim Palmer, came to share his river stories. He writes beautiful coffee table books and river guides. I got to know him a bit through that event. Fast forward to the summer of 2020, when there were still travel restrictions due to COVID- Tim was trying to finish his latest book: Field Guide to Rivers of the Rocky Mountains. He reached out and asked if I had a good picture of the Eagle River that could go in the book since he couldn’t make it here. At the time, we had a hobby photographer on staff and a former employee was a part-time professional photographer. I couldn’t reach either of them. Then I remembered that just a few months prior I had walked past my window to see an incredible sunrise over the Eagle River- I had run across the street with my cell phone and snapped a quick photo. I decided to send it to him- he loved it. It appears on page 75.