Monday, October 4, 2010

Grant Writing on Foreign Topics

Freelance grant writers are often asked to write for agencies whose mission is outside of their area of expertise and professional training. This does not mean however that they can't write competently on what I call foreign topics. It does mean that writing a fundable proposal is going to take considerable research and study in order to write competently in the foreign topic.

A good example is a grant that I'm writing currently for a museum to design and install a new exhibit. I am not trained as a museum professional, nor am I schooled in the proper design elements of an effective museum exhibition. But fortunately for me there's something called Google through which I can find many articles, research papers, online consultant blogs, sample grant proposals, and many other excellent resources from which to glean the information I need to write.

Here is a list of things I do to prepare when writing about foreign topics:

1. Schedule meetings with the client to ensure that I'm clear on their desires and the project content. I need time to pick their brains so I make it clear up front that I need their meaningful input.

2. Connect with professional people in the foreign topic area to discuss the client's needs and ask questions. This can be a difficult thing to accomplish because everyone is busy and they may see you as a competitor in the grant competition.

3. Conduct a thorough online search for resources related to the foreign topic that provide necessary information.

4. Draft a project design and when possible find an expert in the topic area if the client does not qualify (or at least another grant writer) to review the design and give you feedback.

5. Identify appropriate vocabulary and concepts commonly used by professionals within the foreign topic area and integrate this vocabulary into your writing.

I've found in the past that writing a grant in the new topic area is not necessarily a hindrance to being successfully funded. In fact, I've actually had a lot of success writing grants and foreign topic areas and my guess is that my writing style, while clear, is different enough to be fresh and therefore appealing to readers who may be bored with the standard writing style of professionals within the foreign topic.

Generally, grant writers should not limit themselves to areas of professional knowledge in which they consider themselves to be experts. There have been times when I have turned down grant that is simply too technical for me to undertake and which was in a foreign topic area where the learning curve was simply too steep. Better to lose a contract that do an incompetent job and lose a client.

So when you go out and look for new clients, think broadly and cast a wide net. You'll be surprised at how well you can write about foreign topics after a brief period of study and research. Involve your client actively in the narrative review process. Don't be afraid to write grants for clients in foreign topic areas. Go for it

Talk about foreign topics have you heard about Rodney's Online Scavenger Hunt?  Watch the video below for more info or click here to read all about it!

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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.