When Should You Hire a Contract Grant Writer?

If your organization is considering grants as a source of funding, you may want to hire a professional grant writer to help you through the process.  Even if you have people on staff that have written grants, it is always good to get professional advice and assistance to improve your chances of getting funding.  Following are some suggestions you may want to think about before hiring a grant consultant.

  1. Are you are hiring a consultant for a single project or do you want someone to work with you for a longer period of time?
  2. Define your project. To know exactly the kind of grant writer you need, you must first know the type of project or projects you want funded.
  3. Decide if you want to hire them on contract or if you would like to employ them permanently. Hiring on contract will keep expenses down but having them employed permanently means you have 100% of their time!  Both situations has their advantages.  Some grant writers will work on retainers and guarantee you a certain amount of time.  This is still a contract situation meaning you don’t pay their benefits – only an hourly fee.
  4. Start looking for people who fit the job description. Finding a good grant writer isn’t always easy.  Begin looking online, but also talk to people you know who have worked with grant writers.  By talking with people who have used a grant writer, you have a better chance of getting the right person for your organization.
  5. Ask for resumes and references. Every grant writer should have a resume and references of people they have worked with in the past.
  6. After reviewing applicant data, set up interviews with the top candidates.
  7. In an interview, describe in detail the kind of work that your organization does and the kinds of grants for which you plan to apply.  Be sure to ask about a grant writer’s success rate in the type of grants you anticipate writing.
  8. Once a grant writer has been hired, provide him or her with enough information to write a thorough application. It may take a few weeks for the grant writer to learn your organization, its functions and its needs.  Preparing a proposal takes 6 weeks or more!  Don’t rush it.  You want to have the best proposal possible!
  9. Provide feedback to the writer throughout the process. Always require the grant writer to give you drafts to review along the way so you will know how they are doing and if they are preparing a quality proposal.
  10. Remember to adapt each application to the specific funding organization. It is okay to cut and paste, but make sure your application follows the guidelines of the funding organization.
  11. Write the grant applications and perform a review with the writer. Keep in mind, a grant writer will never guarantee that a proposal will be funded – only that they will provide a quality proposal.  Before you send in your application, make sure the final proposal is well written, clear, concise and follows the funding organization’s guidelines.  Make sure the grant writer has clearly explained your project and presented solid solutions.
  12. Decide if you wish to continue working together.
 Continuing to work with a grant writer should be based on your satisfaction with their proposal and work ethics, not if the proposal is funded.  Some statistics show you may write 100 proposals before you get one funded!  Hopefully, that won’t be the case for your organization but quite often grants are very competitive with hundreds of applicants applying for the same funding!