I get a phone call from a prospective client. He sets up an appointment to come and see me about a new grant (instead of asking me to drive three hours each way to see him). I like him already.
When he arrives, he looks just like George Clooney (you don't have a problem with that, do you? This is my fantasy, ya know...), and he has come prepared with a box of materials to share. As we sit down to talk, the following things become clear:
- He has already thoroughly read the RFP.
- His organization has a well-developed vision and mission, and they have already been planning a new project that is a perfect match for this funding source.
- He has already assembled a grant committee that has developed a detailed summary of what they want to do.
- He has also already developed a draft budget.
- His community partners are on board, and they have already written some draft letters of support for me to review.
- The box he brought in with him also contains his organization's strategic plan (which has been updated within the last year), notes from grant planning meetings (along with sign-in sheets), recent outcome evaluation data documenting the effectiveness of his organization's services, and the results of a client and stakeholder survey he administered within the last month to gather information for this grant proposal.
- He respects my opinion as an expert, which he demonstrates by asking insightful questions.
- He has come fully prepared for the business side of the discussion. He has done his homework, so he knows our rates, and he has already acquired approval from his board to sign a contract - right now, today. In fact, he has a check in his pocket for the first payment.
Every now and then, he stops talking and just gazes at me with his gorgeous eyes (MY fantasy, remember?) and then he continues, staying on topic and respectful of my time. He answers my questions about the project clearly and succinctly, and if he doesn't have the answer to one of my questions, he makes a note of it, and calls or emails me within a day with the answer.
As we start working together, he sends more helpful data and he is always available to take my calls when I need more information.
He reviews drafts I send within 24 hours, and it is clear that he has reviewed them carefully because his comments are thoughtful, insightful, and useful. He trusts my writing process.
As the deadline approaches, he remains calm and confident that we will get the job done well and on time. He doesn't start calling and emailing 20 times a day to ask the status of the project. He refrains from changing the project design after he has already reviewed the third and final draft of the narrative. He allows my staff the freedom to make minor budget changes, as necessary, to ensure that the narrative matches the budget (subject to his final approval, of course).
He reviews the final product carefully before submittal, fully understanding that he is responsible for the final product.
After the grant has been submitted, he makes his final payment in a timely manner - it actually arrives a day before it is due! He knows we won't have any news for several months, so he refrains from calling every week "just to see if we've heard anything yet."
He does, however, call with new projects for us to work on together, all with the same planning, organization, and professionalism that he demonstrated on the previous project. Soon, he sets up another meeting to introduce me to a colleague from another organization who is also looking for a grant writer and has a specific grant project in mind. He tells me that he taught his colleague everything he knows, so the process will progress pretty much as it did with his organization.
By the way, his colleague looks a lot like Brad Pitt.
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