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Grants 101

Select Someone to Write the Proposal

Waiting until the last minute to prepare an application is not a sound practice. Equally important is the need to select the person(s) who will write the application.

Some agencies and jurisdictions are fortunate enough to have a grant writer on staff who is responsible for preparing grant applications. If you don’t have a grant writer on staff, however, you have several options:

  • Designate an agency employee.
  • Write it yourself.
  • Obtain the services of a professional grant writer.

Should you choose to designate an agency employee, do not do so without having a full understanding of that person’s analytical and writing skills. The person selected does not need to have a Ph.D. in grant writing, but he or she must be able to—

  • Follow the instructions in the solicitation.
  • Identify what must be included in the program abstract and program narrative by reading the solicitation.
  • Assist staff or the agency head in determining measurable goals and objectives.
  • Communicate in a clear and concise writing style.
  • Establish accurate dollar amounts for the various budget items and totals for the cost categories.

Provide the designated employee with as much information as possible about the solicitation, and do not expect that person to read your mind. Ask the employee to read the solicitation and then take sufficient time to discuss the project you have in mind. Be sure that the person is familiar with the agency’s goals and objectives or strategic plan, and brief the person on how you see the project fitting into your agency’s master plan.

If you write the grant yourself, give yourself a dedicated block of time to focus on the necessary parts of the application. And make sure you are able to complete the tasks listed above for the designated employee.

You also can hire a professional grant writer. Fees may range from a flat fee to a percentage of the total amount of federal funds requested. Some grant writers work on a contingency basis, with the fee billed only if a grant award is made, while others require at least a partial payment for the time and effort put into preparing the application. Fees charged by grant writers cannot be included as an expense in your grant budget.

Ask the grant writer to provide a list of agencies that have used his or her services and were awarded a grant as a result. Make sure that the person’s grant writing skills and areas of expertise are similar to the focus area of the grant solicitation. Be mindful that some people are self-proclaimed grant writing experts. Although they may have prepared many applications, their success rate may be minimal. Do your research.

Date Created: January 21, 2020