Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Working with a Grant Writer - You Get What You Pay For

It has happened three times so far this season. We start working with a client on a project.  Before a contract is signed, they notify us that they have decided to go with another writer who will do the work for a lower fee.  Each time, I remain gracious, reminding the client of our success rate and our relationship, and I invite them to call if they need assistance.  Then I let go, and move on to others.

Last month, we got calls from the first two (with just a week before the deadline) telling us that their "bargain grant writer" bailed out on them at the last minute, and asking if we would take on the project. For one of them, we did, and we successfully met the deadline with a quality proposal. We were unable to help the other one because we just had too many proposals on our plate at that time.

Today, we heard from bargain shopper number three. This time, the client has been working with the new consultants, but after receiving two drafts, it became clear that the product was not going to be good.  So, with a grant deadline just 6 days away (counting the weekend), the client called and asked if we would take on the project. This is a long time client and normally we do everything we can to help, but this time, the answer is "no." Why? We have quite a few projects in the hopper right now, including another one due on the same date as the one the client wants us to take on.  Decisions have to made, and I choose to reward the loyalty of those who didn't allow themselves to be lured away by big promises and lower fees by focusing on their projects when time is tight.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get the best possible deal for your organization. In fact, I think it's your duty as a public servant to do so.  However, the "best deal" is not always just about money.  In the case of grant writing, you also need to consider success rate, experience with the particular grant for which you are applying, and experience in field you work. If your proposal is about health care services and you hire someone who has never written a health care grant (or maybe has written just a couple) and has no experience in the health care field, you will get what you pay for - the grant writer's on the job training.

In these tough budget times, everyone is looking for ways to cut corners.  Just remember that if you don't get the grant, have you really saved anything?  And if you do get the grant written by the more experienced writer, wasn't the slightly higher fee worth every penny?


Want more information about working with a grant writer? Visit our Grant Writing Resources page.

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About Creative Resources & Research

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Woodland, CA, United States
Creative Resources and Research is a consulting firm specializing in grant writing, grant seeking, program evaluation and professional development training. We have worked with hundreds of clients including public and private schools, school districts, universities, non-profit organizations, and social service agencies throughout California, securing over $155 million from federal, state and private foundation funding sources over the past decade. Our primary grant writers and program evaluators have over 50 years of combined experience in the education and social services fields. At CRR we prefer a personal approach to the clients we work with; by developing long term relationships, we are better suited to match client’s needs with available funding sources. We provide a variety of services to help assist you, including grant writing, evaluation consulting, professional development opportunities, and workshops.