A nonprofit operates or doesn’t based on their executive director. In many cases, the ED is the nonprofit.
There is rarely a deputy making the ED the only one managing the operations. Their morals and ethical values reflect directly onto the non-profit.
Everything runs based on their personality, style of management, and ability to solve problems. Also, the attitude of the staff will mostly reflect the attitude of the ED. Just like leadership in any organizations, small or large.
To write grants, it is important to know the ED because they are the “face” of the nonprofit. It is the ED carrying the nonprofit’s message to the public. They are the person that donors, foundations, media, and others recognize when talking about the nonprofit.
There are other people involved in the nonprofit who can influence operations. Such as the board president (ED’s boss) and other board members. However, they are not usually involved in daily, routine operations.
A grant writer should first have the same values as the ED, but also understand the influence that can be exerted from others.