Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grant Writers Must Know Their Limits

A freelance grant writer needs to develop a specialty area. It’s all well and good to say that you can write any kind of grant, but it’s not really true. I’ve taken on two grants over the past five years that were out of my area of expertise; these were medical grants. The Doctor who directs the clinic was pleased with my services and my writing. But I did not feel comfortable about the end products because the terminology, concepts, equipment, and processes of a clinic were so foreign to me that I struggled to put it together.

I learned that I just can’t write all grants for all people. Everyone has their field of knowledge and mine is definitely not the fine points of optical evaluation equipment. My Masters is in administration so I know management and change process well, but I am weak in designing programs for diabetic immigrant farm workers.

Freelance grant writers with the highest degree of success stay within their field of knowledge. The reason most organizations hire a writer isn’t because there's no staff member with the ability to write a grant (most non-profit leaders have done plenty of grant writing). The reason organizations hire a grant writer is to give the job of writing to someone else. A shallow knowledge base in the area you are writing for will cause problems because the staff simply won’t have the time to bring you up-to-speed. Let's face it, if they had the time to write it, they'd write it.

I suggest you find grants which your training and experience give you in-depth knowledge about and write those. If there are enough grants in that area to make a living, you'll do fine. Don’t define yourself too narrowly and rely on one grant program either, or you may end up quite narrow (hungry) yourself!

Does anyone else have a comment about writing outside your area of expertise?

Related Posts:

Grant Writing - A Romantic Misconception
Lessons Learned from Failure


Linda said...

Love your blog and would like to exchange links. Check my blog for reviewers and writers out at

Don R said...

It's so true.
A mechanic in America is very knowledgeable when it comes to fixing a Chevy or Ford.
Fixing a Volvo or BMW is quite a different operation.
Great Post!

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About Creative Resources & Research

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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.