Saturday, September 1, 2012

Should your organization contract with a professional grant writer?

There really is no one size fits all answer to this question.  You have to evaluate your organization’s situation, the grant writer’s skill (and fees) and the possibility of return on your investment. 

Here are a few pros and cons to using an outside grant writer:

  1. Expertise.  Generally speaking, grant writers understand the process and can help guide you through it.  They can research for the funding, write the grant and often help with the follow-up required to tie up any loose ends.  If you are a smaller organization, you might not be able to hire someone full-time with this level of expertise.  Hiring a contractor in this case would make sense.
  2. Flexibility.  Using a contractor allows you to decide if you are content with the work they are completing on your behalf and if you are not, to discontinue the relationship.  This isn’t always as easy with an employee.
  3. Focus.  A grant writer that charges by the hour wouldn’t stay in business long if they were “goofing off” on company time. 

  1. Institutional Knowledge. An outsider will not have the advantage of seeing the day to day operation and might not always understand those special nuggets that make your organization unique.
  2. Priority.  Most grant writers will take on only what they can handle.  You want to make sure that you are working with someone who has the time to give your organization and its needs the appropriate amount of attention.

As with any line item on your budget, you want to make sure you are utilizing your organization’s resources wisely.  Grants can be a very large component of your income and must be treated with great attention to detail.