Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grant Proposal Writers must be Lifelong Learners

Trite phrases that roll off the tongues of keynote speakers leave a bad taste in my mouth. “Lifelong Learner” is one of those and I’ll apologize for using it in case it causes a gag reflex for you as it does for me. It’s one of those terms I consider as insightful and descriptive of the human condition as terms like “Lifelong Breather” or “Lifelong Eater.” The only people who aren’t learning left us.

Each time the government changes leadership, priorities change and usually there are some new grant programs created. These new programs often represent funding opportunities for the biggest institutional campaign donors of the ruling elite. (Wow, did I really say that? Yes, I did.) Doubters may need to check out who got awarded the latest round of grant proposals by the Federal Government and compare it to the largest institutional donors in the last campaign. You’ll find a discernible lean toward making grants to large institutional campaign donors. But that’s for another post and is an entirely irrelevant bird walk from lifelong learning, unless you learned something in which case it fits in a tangential way.

Grant writers need to learn constantly because grant programs and priorities are established whenever there is a change in leadership and philosophy - like the time that GW Bush came in and wiped out all of the bilingual education programs, and most other grant programs, from the US Department of Education, which thrived under Bill Clinton. President Bush opted for doling out pennies per child across the nation rather than grants, which one can argue the pros-and cons of; but that again is not the topic of this post, but which may yet represent some level of new information, hence lifelong learning for some of you breathers.

Learning a new grant program involves some identifiable steps, 1) reading the authorizing statute, 2) plugging the title of the new program into your Google Alerts to gather news about it, 3) calling a program officer with questions you may have, and 4) reading the Federal Register and the RFP carefully, and 5) attending all bidder’s conferences, webinars, and teleconferences throughout the pre-application period.

Grant proposal writers must also learn another lesson - their livelihood can ebb and flow with the public political whims come election-time, so my advice is not to finance a mortgage based on expertise in a particular grant program or you could end up in foreclosure when it’s de-funded.
So be a lifelong learner. Impact the world by creating win-win scenarios in the hot-button issues of your day. Get up-to-speed. Bite the bullet. Be proactive, because, the ball’s in your court and your clients are counting on you to be on the cutting edge. That’s why they passed you the baton!
(Offers for keynote contracts may be mailed for consideration to ;)

The public is a ferocious beast - one must either chain it up or flee from it. Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

No comments:

About Creative Resources & Research

My photo
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.