I receive questions about grant writing on a daily basis. While I've shared many scenarios with fellow grant writers, I thought that the following two questions deserved their own blog post. The first answer addresses those who are new to grant writing and unsure about how to proceed. The second addresses what the proper payment for a subcontracting grant writer is.
For Those New to Grants
A common struggle for people who are new to grantseeking is that they see tons of grants but don’t apply, not knowing what steps to take next. Writing an application for the first time is intimidating. What do you suggest for overcoming this kind of "grant writing paralysis"?
- Relax and take one page of the grant application guidance at a time. Read all of the submittal instructions and create a list of tasks and the dates that you want to complete each task.
- Get a large packet of sticky notes to place on pages with technical requirements (formatting, letters of recommendation state agency review, and so forth).
- Set a calendar alert to check the funder’s website daily for amendments or modifications to the initial grant application announcement.
- Make a list of all of the required information you’ll need to start writing the grant application.
- Note the required signatories and make sure that the powers for signing will be around to review the application and sign-off on cover, certification and assurances forms.
- Research all of the information that is missing from your incoming or gathered information. Deposit the research in an electronic folder for easy access.
- Start the writing process. Plan on writing one entire narrative section of the grant application each day. Do not start a section and then plan on completing it the next day or so. Why? The writing will be as disconnected as your thoughts. The grant readers will note the disconnection and subtract peer review points from your total score.
- Identify a mock peer reviewer to read the grant application guidelines and then to read your typed responses to each section of the narrative.
- Identify a proofreader to clean up any grammatical errors, typos, and content clarifications.
- Give everyone plenty of time to do their task and return the marked up document to you for review, cleaning up and finalizing.
- Plan to submit the grant application at least 72 hours before it is due. Reduce your stress by not waiting until the last minute to hit the submit button. Stuff happens!
- Take a deep breath after you have submitted the application and have the proof of receipt in your electronic files. Give yourself a treat. It’s well deserved!
- Consider investing in a customized coaching services (contact me at the link below for more information).
Hiring a Grant Writer
My organization is looking to hire a contract grant writer. One person is asking for $1,500 per month for 20-25 hours, plus a percentage of any grants won. This doesn’t sit well with me. Your thoughts?
Working with only the information you’ve presented me, I’d have to ask the following:
- How many grants applications per month/year will be written for the $1,500 monthly?
- How many months/years is the contract?
- Where will the organization get the commission dollars to pay the grant writer if an application is funded? THEY CERTAINLY CANNOT COME FROM THE FUNDED GRANT AWARD!
- Does the organization have discretionary funding set aside to pay this commission? This type of agreement is shady at best.
- Did someone check references?
- Is the grant writer a member of GPA?
I consider a reasonable wage to be $50 to $125 per hour for a grant writer with less than 10 years’ experience. Caution: I would refuse any grant writer a commission-based payment due to the ethical issues surrounding that kind of fee structure.
About the Author
Dr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been consulting in the areas of grant writing, contract bid responses, and organizational development for nearly four decades. She has assisted clients and workshop participants throughout the United States in receiving awards of more than $350 million. Dr. Bev is the author of 40 grants-related publications, including Grant Writing For Dummies™, Grant Writing for Educators, How to Become a Grant Writing Consultant, Faith-Based Grants: Aligning Your Church to Receive Abundance, and Perfect Phrases for Writing Grant Proposals.
eCivis is the nation's leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving local governments' and community-based organizations' grants performance. For more information about eCivis, visit www.ecivis.com. For media inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to leave a comment about this Q&A, and enjoy this free article by Dr. Browning: