Thursday, August 5, 2010

Don't be like Barney Frank

O.k., I can think of lots of reasons why you should not be like Barney Frank, but the reason on my mind today has to do with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Apparently, after learning that the new law exempts the SEC from Freedom of Information Act requirements, many folks are upset about what's in the new law, so Barney Frank has agreed to hold a hearing to discuss the issue. Call me crazy, but isn't the discussion supposed to happen before the law is passed? In fact, Mr. Frank has given several different accounts of how that provision got into the bill and how much he knew about it.

I, like many other Americans, have been appalled at how our Congressional representatives seem to be OK with voting on bills without reading them; however, I am truly amazed that an author and sponsor of a bill would not have a better handle on what's in the bill.

Because this is a grant writing blog, yes, I will share with you how this relates to grant writing and why I'm warning you not to be like Barney Frank.

First, whether you have hired a grant writer to write your grant proposal or you have assigned it to some folks within your organization, keep in mind that you, Mr. or Ms. Executive Director or Superintendent, are responsible for what is in that proposal. That means that you need to know what is in it and you should have been at least somewhat involved in the collaborative process of having the conversations that led to the development of the program described in the proposal. Pointing your finger after the fact and saying that you a) didn't know what was in the proposal or b) didn't think anyone would object to what was in the proposal makes you looks both a) stupid and b) out of touch with your staff and community.

I know some of you may be thinking, "But wait a minute!  Our organization is so big that there is no way I can review every grant proposal and be involved in every proposal planning process!" Personally, I don't think that's a good excuse.  That's why you get paid the big bucks; however, you should at least have a close supervisory relationship with someone who is keeping a close watch on the process so you can monitor it.

I can't tell you how many times I have attended Board or community meetings to make an evaluation presentation on a grant-funded program, only to hear the Executive Director or Superintendent actually admit to the Board and/or community that they didn't know something was in the grant.  They usually hint that it must have been the result of a rogue grant writer's visions.  What?  You signed the proposal, for goodness' sake! Don't you pay attention to what you sign?  If the proposal was submitted at the last minute and you signed before seeing the final product, didn't you at least know what was supposed to be in it? Did you see a draft?

So, please read grants that you submit on behalf of your organization.  Please be involved in the planning and writing process.  Please have collaborative discussions with staff and community partners about your plans.  Otherwise, you'll look like Barney Frank, and nobody wants that.


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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.