Whether you are new to grant writing and fund raising or whether it is “old hat” for you, there are lots of reasons that hiring additional capacity to assist you with applying for and winning grant applications can really make sense. Here are our top 5 reasons:
1. The cost
In almost every practical application, it is less expensive to hire a grant writer or grant writing firm on a case-by-case basis then it is to pay a talented writer a salary and benefits on an ongoing basis. When you outsource, you only pay a grant writer when that person is working. Also, a lot of similar grants are due around the same time … sometimes exactly the same time. It is very difficult for one person to write multiple proposals at the same time or even within a few weeks of one another. If you outsource this work to a company with multiple writers, they can typically handle multiple proposals at once so that you don’t miss opportunities or aren’t forced to choose only one opportunity when there are two or more that you should be applying for.
2. Grant writing is difficult, nuanced, time-consuming, and requires a specific skill set
Many people that are good writers are not necessarily good grant writers. Many people that are subject matter experts are not necessarily good grant writers. So in short, writing grant applications well is really hard. Once you have the best competition (Grant writing is a competition for points, after all) for your needs selected, it’s important to know if you have the skill set to give your application a fair chance of success. Even students with advanced degrees that have written college level papers on the subject in question may not have the experience that a successfully funded writer has gained from writing those applications that have been funded. Through years in the industry the best writers hone their skills through trial and error to become effective. This takes time; hundreds of hours per application for even the most seasoned writers. Do you have the time to learn the craft or can your program risk funding while someone from your staff figures it out? If so, grant writing is a valuable skill and something well worth putting in the time to learn. If not, you may want to hire someone or a team of professionals who has already put in the time and effort to become effective and to give your application the best chance of funding possible. Even hiring out this work and participating in the review process of the drafts as the application comes together can build your experience level while not sacrificing the chances of success for the application at hand.
3. When you hire a grant writing consultant YOU are in control
You have review of all drafts before the application is submitted and you can suggest changes, ask questions, and truly direct your grant application development. When it goes well, you can simply oversee the process and provide productive input. If it goes poorly, you can request a different writer or fire the firm as needed. When you hire someone full time there is a lot of investment in time and compensation getting them up to speed and if you discover six months down the road that that individual has a time management problem, isn’t as skilled a grant writer as you thought, or cannot work well with the rest of your staff it can be a difficult and lengthy process to fire them and find a suitable replacement. Contracting this work out makes getting the right person in the right job much easier, especially if you have a project manager selecting the best talent for the subject matter and overseeing the writer’s work.
4. Writers have a variety of skill sets and individual subjects that they are experts in
No one writer is an expert in every particular subject of grant writing so it is important to pick the best writer for each application. Even if you have been funded previously for a Department of Justice grant you may not be an expert in writing for EPA funds. Knowing what you have the experience in (and what you might not) to give your application a fair chance of award is crucial.
5. Quality Control or professional review can bring another perspective and a better chance of award to even the most experienced writers
A team approach to grant writing brings more experience, checks, and ultimately a better chance of award. Even when you have the right writer for the subject, a second set of professional eyes can make all of the difference in helping to see how any set of reviewers might receive your work and what they might take from it and therefore how it will be scored.
Knowing when to hire a grant writing team and when to take a project on yourself is a crucial decision. Everything above in combination with the requirements of any given Request for Proposal should help guide you as to how confident you are in your skills or whether you should call in a team of grant writing pros. At Resource Associates, we write and submit more than 200 grants every year and to date have been funded in excess of $650 million in grant awards on behalf of our clients. We have a roster of over 75 grant writers at our disposal. Each of our writers must have written awarded proposals totaling at least $3 million in funding in order to become a member of our team and each of them must maintain a satisfactory level of quality in order to stay on our roster. Our project managers select the most appropriately experienced writer to work directly with you and then we support them with Quality Control, Technical Review, Registration Support, and Submission Support to give your application the best chance of success possible.
If you are confident in your grant writing ability, if you have the time to dedicate to putting together a competitive application, and if you have the drive to do it, but possibly could use a second set of eyes to help review your work before you submit, we offer Technical Review and Editing services to help make sure everything is in order and that your proposal is as strong as possible.
Please give us a call today at (505) 326-4245 or send us an email and one of our grant experts can help you make the decision that best serves your organization.