I participated in a great discussion today emerged in the Grant Writer’s Network on Linked In “How do you deal with clients who don’t provide you with the detailed information you need to write the grant?”
This comes up numerous times when organizations ask me to write a grant for one of their projects. They want to know, of course, how much it will cost them, but the number of hours of work, depends on how ready they are for grant writing to begin.
Normally writing a grant takes 8-16 hours of work time (depending on the program) and I am relunctant to bill more than 16 hours for any grant, because it gets expensive for the organization and it is hard for organizations to understand why a “writing” task could take longer than 2 full work days. This happens when they are unfamilar with the work involved outside of the writing task.
There are hidden hours of work when you or your staff don’t give me the information I need and I have to repeatedly request information, explain and re-explain what I need. There is also extra work involved when the project is handed over with incomplete or missing information. Sometimes I have had to research and create statistics/budgets myself from raw data or I have had to seek and request quotes for capital costs. One time I had to research performance spaces and create ticket scaling in each hall to come up with a realistic ticket revenue model. These are all tasks that are far outside of what you should expect from a grant writer.
With some grantwriting tasks I have spent more time emailing the organization’s staff with questions and requests than I have working on assuring they have the best possible proposal to submit to a funder. This isn’t just stressful for me, it is an avoidable cost for your organization.
What should you expect to provide to a grantwriter?
- Organizational information: Mission, history, awards, reviews, bios of key staff involved, board list
- Project information: The who, what, where and why of the project
- Financial information: Audited financials, current year budget, working project budget
- Support letters from partner organization, or who to contact to get the support letters.
- Required support documentation in acceptable formats (videos, photographs, audio, etc.)
I’d suggest that you keep all the annually updated organizational information in a zipped “organizational information” folder for easy emailing or post the documents in a password secured location for downloading. That will save you a lot of time finding the documents individually.
Project information seems to cause people more difficulty. If you lack program details you aren’t going to be able to effectively raise money. You cannot wait to “see if you get the money” before finalizing your plan. Plan your optimal project and contingencies, then you are ready to raise the money!