Writing a grant proposal is far more challenging than most people realize. As any professional grant writer would agree, writing even the smallest of proposals requires much more time and effort than just jotting down a few ideas and numbers in a word document. Here, at Resource Associates, we often compare it to birthing a baby. Just like a new mother-to-be, one must dedicate extraordinary resources in preparing an award winning grant. Often times, this requires working around the clock for months just to ensure every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed. There are some grants that are so technically difficult to write that it requires more than 6 months’ time to complete. It is not unusual for a Resource Associates’ grant expert to prepare a proposal that – when printed – is over a foot thick (luckily we transitioned into a paperless system years ago).
One last comment on this subject. Nearly all federal RFP’s will provide a time estimate statement. Here is an example taken from the most recent PEP RFP:
“The time required to complete this information collection is estimated to average 30 hours per response, including the time to review instructions, search existing data resources, gather the data needed, and complete and review the information collection.”
Having written more than 60 of these grant proposals, Resource Associates’ experts would strongly disagree with this estimate. On average, our writers will dedicate 120 hours to develop an award winning PEP grant.
With all of the hours you dedicate to proposal writing, why not take one extra step to ensure an award? It certainly cannot hurt to get an extra set of eyes on a proposal before submission. Retaining a “third party” proposal reviewer can benefit you in a number of ways. Here are 5 key reasons why Resource Associates’ believes you should choose to have a proposal review before submission:
1. Grant review eliminates the common problem of “generalization.”
Generalization refers to a writer not spotting one’s typos and mistakes. University of Sheffield psychologist Tom Stafford states: “When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level task.” As with all high level tasks, your brain generalizes simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas). We don’t catch every detail, we’re not like computers or NSA databases. Rather, we take in sensory information and combine it with what we expect, and we extract meaning.”
2. A grant review by a third party can improve the overall content of a proposal.
When selecting your reviewer, it is important to choose a professional grant writer who has a background in the content field of the proposal. By doing this, you should receive important input that will influence the content of the proposal. The reviewer should be able to analyze your work or action plan and assess – from a realistic perspective – if you will be able to do what you are promising within the suggested timelines and budget. If your third party reviewer raises questions or concerns, it is very likely that the funder will share these same opinions. It’s best to eliminate or adjust questionable content before it’s too late.
3. Proposal review is important for “scarcity” reasons.
US nonprofits will not know what federal funding will be available until May of this year (possibly beyond May). It is estimated that a number of funding streams will be completely eliminated at that time especially those related to the National Endowment of the Humanities and Art. In the midst of this uncertainty, NOW is the time to pursue as much funding as possible in hopes to get the last few dollars of the Obama appropriates. Grant eligible organizations should also be aggressively seeking funding from alternative government and private sources in case federal grants do not pan out. There is zero room for error right now. Everyone is scrambling for money. Why not spend an extra hundred or so dollars to make absolute sure that you are as competitive as possible?
4. Grant proposal review is important because of its cost benefit ratio.
Resource Associates typically charges $500 for a careful review of a proposal. This small investment can lead your organization to competitively win millions for your organization depending on the funding source and type.
5. Finally, a grant proposal review by a professional grant writer will contribute to continual professional growth and learning.
With a grant review, you don’t just get a “marked up” document. You will spend time with the reviewer on the phone and email – talking about the proposal’s content gaps, strengths, and weaknesses. Resource Associates looks at grant proposal review as more of an education and mentoring process than an editorial review. We study the RFP. We look at proposals that have been awarded in the past. Sometimes we will even talk with funders to make sure your concepts and ideas are in alignment with the funder’s goals. Information gathered is pushed into our thoughtful comments and suggestions. All of this leads to a higher quality proposal that is more likely to be awarded.
Resource Associates is the nation’s leading grant writing and consultation firm. Call us today at 505.326.4245 to find out how our low cost grant review and technical assistance services will increase your chances of a grant award.