Grant Workshop 101: Working with a Professional
In the previous articles, I discussed the not-so-obvious aspects of putting together a grant proposal. First we covered what you need to know about qualifying for a grant. Next we started to put together how your organization should be focusing on objectives and results to build a solid program that will clearly outline why funding sources should give you a grant. Now let’s talk about writing the grant itself. In theory, writing the grant is a matter of meeting the eligibility criteria, compiling the appropriate forms and writing in clear terms how your program will work. However, there are some considerations to make before an organization foregoes a professional grant writer in lieu of a staff member.
- A non-staff grant writer approaches your organization from an outside perspective: This means that similar to the funding source providing the grant money, they know nothing about your program. Without knowing how it is designed, what the history of the organization has been or who will execute the program; your grant writer will rely on you to clearly explain your objectives so that it can be written into a proposal format. This works in favor of the organization when called upon to present the case for support to a decision making board. When you have carefully ironed out the details to the grant writer, you have an objective sounding board to ask how it will work. This is not always the case when a staff member writes a proposal.
- A grant writer has dedicated time and resources for finding the grants most suited to your organizational goals and objectives: This knowledge is priceless when it comes to sifting through lengthy eligibility requirements and preparing data that will be required for progress reports to funding sources. Furthermore, a grant writer can ferret out the preferences of different grant making organizations and streamline your proposal to meet them. Best of all, the grant writer will also keep in contact with the funding sources and keep you updated of any additional supportive material that may be requested.
- A grant writer is a specialized writer: In addition to the research and knowledge that goes into compiling a solid grant proposal, a grant writer must be able to write and edit using strong writing skills with a high command of grammar and spelling. While that might seem obvious, a layperson who is not a professional writer can easily overlook a minor error. This can be embarrassing for an organization seeking a grant. As with anything involving business, its always preferred to make your first impression the best one. So whenever possible, go with the professionals.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how grants are written. While there are some challenges to drafting a proposal, remember almost any organization can do this. Seriously. Just remember these key elements and you’re on your way! Get very clear about your organization. Map out every detail of your program and its objectives. Do the research on measurable goals and sustainability beyond grant sources and when in doubt, work with a professional.