Know that not all grant writers are created equal! When hiring a grant writer, be cautious.
Anyone who tells you that they charge based on commission and are paid directly from the grant is committing an illegal act! Grants will not pay for anyone to write the grant. Think about it: the grant is already written and submitted by the time the grantor reads it. Why would a grantor pay you for work completed before they see it? Grant funds are intended to pay for philanthropic or business endeavors, not to pay a grant writer. This means that grant writing is part of the cost of conducting business. Moreover, paying a grant writer with grant funds is not only illegal, but it could get your organization in a great deal of trouble where you will have to repay grant funds and lose out on future funding. Nobody wants that!
Another pitfall to watch out for is any grant writer who isn’t honest enough to inform you that it is not smart to write a single proposal and submit it to hundreds of funders for a single fee. Every grantor and application has its own set of proposal guidelines and areas of funding, thus requiring an original proposal written specifically for that program, project, funder and application. What works for one grant opportunity will not work for all. Read the fine line print, adhere to the guidelines, answer each inquiry and submit on time. Who wants to find out that an application was denied simply because it was not in the correct font? Nobody wants that either!
Another drawback to incompetent grant writers is that they are quick to tell you to complete a form or long questionnaire and then use that information to create the application. A reputable grantor will always tell you what inquiries they have and how they want them answered. More importantly, a reputable grant writer will interview you and your office (at your convenience) to discover the information necessary to write a grant proposal- and they will follow up at regular intervals. You are hiring a grant writer to save you time and effort, not to cost you a lot of time and money. If you’re taking the time to complete a lengthy questionnaire you might as well take the time to become the grant writer, read the solicitation, research, write the grant, submit and follow up on the award decision on your own.
Illegal and ineffective approaches to grant writing can not only prevent you from winning grants but could also damage your organization’s reputation with funders and your community for years. Make sure you ask questions and check references before hiring a grant writer.
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