Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hiring a Grant Writing Consultant

Hiring a Consultant Some schools, districts, and nonprofit organizations turn to professional grant-writers to assist them in writing proposals. This is often a good solution since grant-seeking is a time-consuming process and requires special skills.

There are several very important considerations when seeking outside assistance with grant-writing:
  • The job of a consultant (or a district-paid) grant-writer is to assist those who are seeking the grant. Do not fall prey to the temptation of allowing the grant-writer to plan, design and write your proposal for you. This will result in a project that the grant-writer supports but that may not be something you and your staff can or want to do.

  • Hiring or relying on an outside grant-writer (including district-paid) should not relieve the group that wants the grant of devoting time to planning a project and overseeing the design and writing of a proposal.

  • Do not allow the consultant to put requirements into a proposal because "you always do this" or "all grants require this component." If required by the grant or desired by your organization, by all means - include the component. If outside your goals and objectives, ascertain for yourself if it is a required element in the particular grant for which you are applying.

  • Do not hire a consultant who does not insist upon planning meetings with you and your staff. It is vital to the success of the future project that all stakeholders have input into the project being designed.

  • Do not expect a consultant to write a winning proposal overnight! Timeframes between learning of an opportunity and grant submission deadlines is often tight but allow as much time as possible for preparation of the proposal.

  • Insist upon seeing drafts of the proposal and do not feel intimidated about questioning what you read in the draft. The consultant works for you - the project that is designed must be your project.

  • Remember that, while writing proposals is time-consuming, running projects is much more so. If you do not have time to devote to the initial stages - planning and overseeing the design of a grant proposal - you may not have time to run the project if the proposal is successful.

  • Remember that grant-writing consultants are professionals and skilled in the grant-writing business. Most outside consultants will require an hourly fee to write your proposal just as doctors, attorneys, and accountants charge for their expertise. Most grants will not allow the cost of obtaining a grant to be included in the requested grant request.

  • Save money by assisting the grant-writer in every way possible. It may be helpful to bring the consultant in at the very beginning to describe his or her needs for proposal development. Devote staff time to gathering and developing the information while the consultant is "off the clock."

  • No grant-writer is successful all the time. Avoid using any consultant who guarantees a successful proposal.

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