Leaving it to the Experts? Reasons Not to Hire a Grant Writer
A year ago, we published a blog listing a number of reasons to hire a professional grant writer. The decision to hire a professional should always be a careful one because there are both positives and negatives to consider. Here are a few reasons to consider waiting to hire a professional writer.
Disconnection between the Grant Writer and the Project
One of the most difficult parts of hiring external grant writers is that they are experts in writing proposals, but they are often disconnected from the organizations that hire them. Being involved in the initial development may not be part of the writer’s scope of work, resulting in a misunderstanding of expectations. For example, it is not uncommon for grant writers to carefully craft a proposal outline, only for that outline not to be implemented in full after receiving funding. In such a scenario, an organization must ensure that a proposal plan is followed as it is outlined in the proposal once funding is received. Foundations are very strict in their funds being used exactly the way outlined and a failure to do so can result in a shattered relationship with a funder or a funder requesting a repayment of the funds due to breach of contract. If considering hiring a grant writer, organizations can avoid this type of situation by integrating the writer into the process early on.
What is the Real Motivation Behind Hiring a Professional Grant Writer?
Superficially, the answer to this question seems easy enough: to increase the chance of receiving grant funding. A professional knows what to write and how to write it, so chances are greater that the proposal will be successful. But is this really the motivation? Or is the idea of applying for a grant a “quick fix” to find some money? A grant writer is not the path of least resistance. This thought process often fails to include an in-depth look at how realistic an endeavor is. Is this proposed project viable for a grant? Have all other avenues been explored? Is there solid research and data behind it? Grant seeking takes time, effort, and research and applicants are better off building momentum for a well thought through grant application.
More Than a Technical Skill
Writing a grant proposal is more than just a technical skill that can be hired out by an external person. A grant proposal is never a solitary endeavor; it is a collaborative effort of an organization, a team, a school, or a group. Applicants will need more than just one expert. For example, someone who intimately knows the budget and how it can be implemented and enhanced will be beneficial to the proposal development. Likewise, individuals who know exactly what project is supposed to get funding and can dispense the funds to the right people are equally as valuable. Lastly, team players that can make sure timelines are kept and can reign people in if necessary will help facilitate the grant writing process.
Before hiring a grant writer, it is important to consider all of the available options for proposal development. Even though the chances of receiving funding may be higher with a professional writer, the chances of successfully implementing the project and retaining a fertile relationship with the funder is still up to the organization and is as important as the proposal writing.