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She Turned Her Passion for Writing Into Over $43 Million of Grants! Interview with Denise Sailes

grant writing Jul 03, 2023


 Join me by watching this interview with Denise Sailes. She is the President of Golden Touch Grant Services and I am privileged to talk to her about her success. Below is the transcription of our interview. Enjoy!

Rodney Walker Hi, this is Rodney Walker. Grant Central USA, Grant Writers Association, and today I'm excited to have a special guest, Denise Sailes. She is the President of Golden Touch Grant Services, located in Bakersfield, California. Welcome to the show, Denise. 

Denise Sailes Hi Rodney, thank you for having me. 

Rodney Walker I'm excited. I'm excited to have you on today's show, Denise because we've been getting a chance to do quite a bit of work together. I've been getting a chance to see you on your journey, and I'm excited about sharing your journey with others. Many have already been following it for a while, but you've done a tremendous job of raising a lot of money and for some of that information out so we can share with others what you've done. But how did you start in grants? What led you to this point of being a grant writer? This secured over forty-three million dollars so far. 

Denise Sailes Well, actually, I kind of fell into the position as the grant writer. Before I was a grant writer, I did a lot of board meetings, minute agendas. So when I was I have now called me in for an interview, I was like, well, I don't have any experience in grant writing. And he was like, oh, no; you can have a lot of experience in writing if you can make the agenda imagine and can make board meeting minutes; he said that is something we're looking for, somebody that knows how they write. And that's how I kind of got started in grant writing.


The Forty-Three Million Dollars In Three Years

Rodney Walker Wow! So he saw something that you didn't even notice. He saw your talents of being able to do right in this area and help you to see that you could do it in the southern areas. That's pretty cool. Most grant writers that I talked to actually have all an integrated writing. I don't think I know to me, they started out sending me to be a grant writer while I went to college. But it's interesting that your story is the same. So tell me this, Denise, you raise in a relatively short time a lot of money. Forty-three million dollars. What would you say has been some of the reasons for some of your success? 

Denise Sailes  Well, you know, I didn't even think about it until you brought it up like I won. I had forty-three million dollars, like, wow, really? Forty-three million dollars in three years. But I think part of my success is just communication. I work well with others. So, you know, and I enjoy writing. So, you know, you have to have a passion for writing and that. And that's what I have. 

Rodney Walker Well, evidently, that passion has been working wonders for you, and that's really good. So we got a chance to connect a while back, and when we connect that you are looking to, you're already doing well, writing grants, and have won a substantial amount. But you wanted to get even better and to improve. Tell me. Tell me what let you look my way and how do we. 

Denise Sailes Oh, well, you know what I took actually, I came across you online, and I listened to one of your videos and, you know, I was impressed when, like, OK, this is something I need to follow up on because even though I know how to write grants, there's always something out there for me to learn. 

Rodney Walker Got it, so you took that position and decided to enhance your skills and start it with our rising star and take this, ladies and gentlemen, Denise first came to me, I didn't realize, and she had wanted as much money as she wanted, but she stood up a rising star. What was that like for you going through that experience? 

Denise Sailes You know what? That experience was great because I'm used to going to federal grants and state grants and just to learn more about foundation grants and how that is different from our federal and state grants. It helped me a lot to kind of expand into more of doing foundation grants. 

Rodney Walker Got it! So, yeah, because you've been used to raising that big money with those federal dollars that were out there and now decided to learn some on the other side. So now you've got both of them in your arsenal, both federal as well as foundation grants. What was the biggest difference you noticed when you were going through looking at federal grant opportunities versus those foundation grants? Do you see big differences, or what were those for you? 

Denise Sailes Really what the federal grants, it's kind of it's not personal. And what foundation grant you really want to get personal with the executive director as you want do you want to get to know the people in the foundation, and you want them to know who you are? And the federal grant is a little bit different. You kind of have a little bit of a distance, but you can still implement that with Federal Grant Foundation grants. You really want to get to know the executive directors.

Rodney Walker Yeah, that's good. And in doing so, you've taken that connected with these executive directors, connected with these offices, and all these people are using that skill. And now you have new things that are in your also that you'd already been taking a number of other training about. And you stand corrected. Is that the case? 

Denise Sailes That is the case. I've taken a number of different classes. 

Rodney Walker What was it like taking the training that we offered versus some of the other ones you had to offer that you told me about this you recently take? 


She's Started Digging Deep

Denise Sailes I actually learned a lot more from taking your class, you know, and your personality was right. A lot of the classes that I've taken before, as soon as the class was over, I basically forgot what I've learned. You kept the class interesting. You answer the questions. Often, when you take classes from other professionals that do grant writing, they tend just to show you an example of a book and don't give you a full explanation on, you know, what you could do to make this proposal better. And with your class, you were right there, and you were answering questions. You were teaching us things that I didn't even know, even though I've been doing grant writing for three years. 

Rodney Walker Yeah, well, well, I'm glad that was helpful for you, so you took this information and started using it, and we started digging deep. And as we continue on the part of the journey that you decided to step up to the next level. So Denise went from our VIP program, we went from our rising star and elevated to our VIP program. Now, tell me, tell me why. Because you, you were doing it at one level here, you learn grant writing, but you want to do this as a business and tell me why you decided to do the VIP program.  

Grant Writing Apprenticeship Program | Grant Central USA

Denise Sailes I decided the VIP program because I always wanted to go into business for myself and just take the class from you and then learn a little more about how to market my stuff and, you know, getting. Just more secure on what I do and about myself, like I can do this, I can, you know, I can have my own business and instead of working for someone else. 

Rodney Walker Yeah. So I remember when we first got started, that was kind of the nervous part, like, you know, what was it like? Because there are some other people out there right now that are kind of thinking they may want to do this as a business and penalties. And what was it like? Because I think you remember our interview and I was excited about just behind the scenes things that you were talking about for us. I was kind of scared. Tell me, take me back to them. 

Denise Sailes Oh, wow. Yeah, a lot of self-doubts. You know, wondering, oh, can I do this? Can I really make a living on rent grant writing, and then you start second-guessing yourself? Well, I'm not really good enough to write grants, you know, and you help me, you know, build confidence in myself and let you know that I can really do this. And just by using leasing one forty-three dollars million in grants in 30 years. And that's really something incredible. And I just never looked at it that way. 

Rodney Walker Yes, sometimes it's interesting, sometimes we're so close inside the picture ourselves, we can see some of the things that outsiders see. But when she told me she wanted 43 million dollars of like 43 million dollars, you got to bring in some other people to help because there are a lot of people and organizations that need your expertise that you've been winning so much money. And now she's doing it as a business now. Now, let's go down as a journey. So confidence is being built and removal of self-doubt. What else happened along the journey that may be surprised you or that you were not expecting? 

Denise Sailes Learning how to market myself, wow, you know, I never even really just thought about that. I thought I can just put up a website and, you know, people come to me, but you really got to get out there and you've got to really show people that you can do this. You know, you got to they got to feel confident that you can set their success to win them grants for their nonprofits. 


See Us Partnering For Her Success!

I believe in developing long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. You can observe here that Denise and I are still working together to achieve her goals.

>> Click Here to Watch

Rodney Walker Got it, so so marketing was a big thing, and this time you've done it, you've done any writing for any other clients prior, or were there any people coming your way prior to us getting a chance to connect? And then so, what was that like? 

Denise Sailes I had a couple of nonprofit organizations come my way, but it was more of them being a startup, and it was difficult to kind of show them this is what you need to have before you can even think about applying for grants. So it's come a long way from the nonprofits that used to come to me until the organizations that come to me now. So it's night and day. 

Rodney Walker OK, so it sounds like you had a couple of people coming your way over the course of some time, but then you started learning what you needed to do to market. What was that like putting that new marketing head-on for you? What was it? Was the experience like having to learn this new skill? 

Denise Sailes  It was scary, but also that's something I needed to do. Being a grant writer, I'm so used to being behind the scenes, writing grants, not really dealing with people up front, and I'm asking for budgets or, you know, some information. And so it was a different task for me to get out there and just get myself, you know. So that was a big challenge for me in the beginning. 

Rodney Walker Got it! So you so you met the challenge head-on and you started marketing yourself and what started happening as a result of making some of those shifts? Did anything happen, anything different or things pretty much the same? Tell us the story. 

Denise Sailes After I started marketing myself, I ended up getting so many people emailing me about having appointments to talk to them about their organization. So I was really surprised. Like the first week that I started doing marketing on different sites, I had so many people reach out to me. 

Rodney Walker Wow. That must have been that must have been quite a side and probably nerve-wracking as well. 

Denise Sailes Mm-hmm. Yeah, I really didn't expect it that quick. I'm thinking, oh, you know, maybe in a couple of months I'll get a couple of people to contact me. But within a week, I've had about six or seven people contact me. 


The Grant Writing Learning Process And Success

Here’s another video where you can see me working with Denise behind the scenes. This was the early stages when she was still wet behind the ears in running her own business. She has hit the ground running now and can be seen all over the place, making a tremendous difference.

>> Click Here to Watch the Behind Scene Footage

Rodney Walker Wow. And I noticed on some of your connections, you've been all over the place. Every time I turn around up seeing you pop up here and I'm seeing you pop up there and you really have been going at it. So congratulations on that. And then they kind of tracking your journey because I wanted people to see someone start out from zero. And that's exactly what you've done. So what else about the journey, Denise, would you say has been eye-opening? Because you told us one that you gain greater confidence, you learned how to market. What are the things that happened that you think people would be interested in here? 

Denise Sailes Well, it's just I learned that I'm just not just a grant writer. There are so many more things to be NGF doing grants. I mean, working with foundation stone and tent letters. There's so much more. And I think people don't understand that grant writing and they think we just write a grant and that's it. There's so much more to that, you know, getting involved with the foundation, letting you know who you are, keeping that constant contact. And a lot of people don't realize what goes into to actually starting a grant to what happens after you get the grant. You're still getting in contact with foundations and organizations to let them know that you're out there, so it never ends. 

Rodney Walker Got it. So so it sounds like what you're doing is much more than just simply doing the work, right. It sounds like you have a comprehensive system that you are using to help your clients to start getting funding, which is great. What would you say in terms of some of the things that I understand you have a fit that's going to be taking place. That's going to be a sun, and that must be pretty exciting, getting ready to do something as big as a summit. What's that like for you? 

Denise Sailes Oh, yes, I'm excited about it. This will be my first summit. It's going to be sometime next year. But we haven't set the date right now. But it's going to be the Mental Health Executive Director Summit, so I'm excited about it. I did my first little I don't know if you've gotten a chance to see it. My Monday memo about health, and it's actually about African-American health and wellness in African American men. 

Rodney Walker Wow, that's exciting. I saw that. And it's exciting to see you again. Just become like a marketing machine, September, turn around. But I think it's important for those folks to care about do this as a business and see that a part that is marketing. And if you're not marketing, nobody knows about you, which you've been you've been grabbing the bull by the horns, and you and you've got some new headshots and looking all professional and doing some pretty tough. So that's been cool. What would you say, Denise? You were working to a few areas, but you're helping nonprofits. But right now, if there are other people that are doing grant writing in and they're thinking about maybe stepping up and becoming either a freelance writer or maybe even thinking about doing this as a business where they establish a firm, what would you what would what advice would you give them in terms of some of the things that were helpful for you? 


The Golden Touch

Denise Sailes Some things help for me. Definitely, take run, of course, that's one thing. Never, never stop learning. I mean, I'm always, you know, I've written grants, but wow. And I've been able to succeed in getting a lot of grants. I'm always out there reading. I'm always taking on webinars. I'm always trying to get more information about grant writing. So just to get started, I would say just do it. I mean, you know, you're not going to know unless you get out there and just try. 

Rodney Walker Wow, that's nice. And that's one of the things I loved about working with you. You grab the bull by the horns. I mean, like you say, Hey Denise, do this, and she knocked it out. And I can see why you've been able to secure as much funding as you need to secure, because you put legs to the stuff that needs to be done, and that's something where people succeed. I love the fact that you are doing what you're doing. Now, tell me more about this company's golden touch grant service. What does that what does that mean to you? 

Denise Sailes I have the golden touch, that the organization funding. So yes, I have the golden touch.

Rodney Walker Everything you do, that's good. So we should keep an eye out for that mental health summit that's going to be taking place. And then if someone wants to reach you, Denise, connect with them like LinkedIn, or can they reach you with how they find you on LinkedIn, by the way. 

Denise Sailes I'm on LinkedIn, on the Golden Touch Grant Services. I'm on Instagram, I am on Facebook, and I also have my Website Golden Touch Grant Services. 

Rodney Walker Wow. So there are so many different places for them to be able to reach you. And do you have any just in case maybe somebody out there in need in grant product, looking for the type of services that you offer? Who do you who in particular, are you working with these days? 

Denise Sailes Right now, I'm actually working with a nonprofit that is helping the homeless. So. 

Rodney Walker Yeah, and there are in terms of different, are you niched out of particular areas that you service? Is that I mean, like are there are you pretty open to working with different clients from different sectors or what would be the ideal ones that you would like to work? 

Denise Sailes Well, my main focus right now is clients that build mental health and wellness. 

Rodney Walker Mental health and wellness. OK, got it. So they can they can come to you. So if you are the organization looking for a grant writer that has a track record? Man, three years, this lady has won a lot of money and she knows her stuff and we'll take great curve. Denise, is there anything else that you want to share with our listeners today that may be helpful for them or anything else I'd like to share today? 

Denise Sailes I'm just going out there. And if you want to be a grant writer, like I said, just go do it. Don't be scared. You know, everybody's scared, but, you know, you got to try it so. 

Rodney Walker Well, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first, Denise Golden Touch Grant Services. She's saying, just go do it. Just go do it. Denise, it's been great following you. Get a chance to hear some of your stories. You know that I'm planning on tracking all I'm going keep in touch because I want to see where this goes. And so this video that we did a while back when you were practicing and getting so upset. So we're going to be following you and I'm looking forward to having you back to tell us more your continued success. And we're wishing you the very best and all that you do. Thank you for being with us on today. 

Denise Sailes Thank you, Rodney. 

Rodney Walker All right. Wishing you the best. Take care. 

Denise Sailes Thank you. You too.


Rodney Walker is today’s leading expert in Grant Development Systems™ and President of Grant Central USA - Grant Writers Association. Learn more about his online grant writing courses today.

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