To write the grant or not to write the grant, always a big question! Writing the grant yourself is often a big commitment in terms of time and effort; it is hard work. It requires you to closely evaluate how your proposed project will effectively address a problem, what the need for your project is and to demonstrate the capability of your organisation. It is important you utilise the correct language and know how to address criteria. On the other hand, outsourcing it to a grant writer will cost you money that you really need for the project. If you do make the decision to spend money on a grant writer then you want to make sure you choose the right person. They alleviate the administrative workload that goes into writing the grant application and they can create a compelling and impressive finished document that really sells your project and your organisation.
Here are 6 things to consider when making this decision:
The amount of funding you are applying for. Some, smaller grants are easy to complete and can be completed without the help of a grant writer, while others can require an in-depth analysis of your project and well-constructed responses to the criteria. Grants for significant funds require comprehensive 40+ page business cases, which should not be attempted without some experience in this field. Consider the amount you are applying for and look at the complexity of the application before you decide which way to go.
What exactly do you need? Are you short of time or is it the grant writing expertise you are looking to purchase? If you have the time but not the expertise, consider hiring a grant writer just at the end of the process to review and provide feedback on your drafted application. This has multiple benefits; it is a lot cheaper and it provides you with some professional development when you see the changes that are made and learn what you did right and where you could have improved. With this knowledge, you may not need a grant writer next time.
Are you likely to apply for more than one grant for this project? If so, getting the first application completed by a professional grant writer will provide you with a document that you can use to submit the rest of the applications, without the need to pay another grant writer or much time and effort on your part. Copy and paste is definitely your friend when you are seeking funding from multiple sources.
Not all grant writers are created equal! There are different levels of grant writers; professional grant writers who have experience with large scale, multi-million-dollar projects and community grant writers who have written a lot of applications for small grants. You will not get the same level of quality from these different grant writers. In some cases, the quote to complete the grant won’t be indicative of the quality you will get. Ideally, choose a grant writer who has been referred to you. Ask around other organisations to see if they know anyone – you can even ask the funding body if they know someone.
Asking a grant writer their success rate is not going to tell you whether they are any good. Some funding bodies will virtually tell you in your first meeting with them whether you will be successful if you put in an application, whereas other grants are extremely complex and hard fought. If a grant writer chooses only to help clients who they know will be successful, it means that a) they are not very helpful and will refuse a lot of jobs, b) they do not have experience in highly competitive grants and c) they do not have the ability to guide a client to improve their application. A better way to determine if your grant writer is any good (without a word-of-mouth referral) is to ask them what percentage of the grants they have applied for have been for over $100,000. Another good way is to ask them whether they have been on the other side of grant writing; have they been the assessor? This way you know if they have real insight in to what assessors are looking for in an application.
Can you afford NOT to get expert advice? A grant writer can’t source quotes, letters of support and tell you what your project is – you need to plan your project before the grant is written. This all takes time. And then you need to dedicate the time towards the actual writing of a quality application. Too often people underestimate the time that goes into the creation of a quality grant application and end up missing crucial elements in the mad rush to get it done. Can you afford to submit an ok application, or do you need it to be the best it can be?
As you can see there is a lot to consider when it comes to hiring a grant writer. We hope that the information we have provided helps you make a well-informed decision. If you would like to discuss the ways in which we can assist you with your grant application, please contact us on 0422 228 162 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.