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How to Select a Grant Writer

Many individuals and firms provide grant-related services. How do you find and select competent professionals to assist you with your grantwriting needs?

Start Early. Always seek a grantwriter before you need one! Many RFPs or grant applications are released with only a 30-day notice. It can take months to find an experienced, successful grantwriter.

Do Your Homework. Once you have identified one or more candidates for the job, you want to learn as much as possible about their experience and methods. Here are 10 suggestions for getting the information you need.

  1. Request a résumé. Experience is valuable, and grantwriters who have been in business the longest are generally the most successful. Look for diversified program background. Professionals with varied experience tend to approach problems from different angles and search for creative solutions. Also, look for expertise in your area of need (criminal justice, afterschool programs, healthcare, etc.). Good grantwriters often have program experience.

  2. Request a list of submitted grant proposals with an indication of which were funded. From this information you can determine funding success rate. The best grantwriters will list grants from different sources (government, foundations, and corporations). The more grants written and funded, the greater your chances of success.

  3. Examine at least two recent, funded proposals, including a copy of the award letter. This will help you evaluate writing skills, creativity, content quality, and attention to proposal appearance. Ask for the letter of award so you know that the proposal was funded. Also, be aware that someone else may have written or assisted in writing the proposal.

  1. Request references from at least three recent customers. Ask for references related to recent funded proposals from responsible individuals (Executive Directors, Program Managers, etc.) who will give you an unbiased view of the grantwriter's skills.

  2. Meet with the grantwriter in person. This allows for freer discussion and makes it easier to determine if the candidate's personality will be a good fit with your organization.

  3. Ask about fees for services. Keep in mind that usually "you get what you pay for." Charges vary according to grant complexity and the amount of work needed to complete the application. Most successful grantwriters charge $25-$50 per hour. Fees for grants development range from a few thousand dollars for a moderately sized state government proposal to $12,000 for a large federal grant. A fixed fee for grants development is preferable so there are no surprises. Avoid committing to a price until the RFP comes out and you can assess the amount of money and program support you can obtain from the grant.

  4. Ask if the grantwriter has the time to write your proposal. People often over-promise and under-deliver. You want someone who can focus on your project and meet your deadlines.

  5. If the RFP has been released, ask how the grantwriter would approach writing the program activities. This will provide some insight into thought processes and the ability to focus on your needs while taking into account the RFP requirements. Also, ask how the grantwriter will collaborate with your organization.

  6. Ask for a one-page written synopsis of the grantwriter's grants development or grantwriting model. This should explain their approach to these tasks and the processes they follow.

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