Thursday, January 6, 2011

How Much Is Writing Your Own Grants Costing You?

Some costs are easy to calculate.  You look at the price tag on something, and it's pretty clear. However, most people calculate cost only in terms of the cost of having something, rather than the cost of not having it.  For example, depending on the time of year, you may think that the cost of fresh fruit is pretty high, and that might lead to choose not to buy it. Sometimes, though, you'll think about the cost to your health of not having that fruit. When you weigh that cost against the dollar cost you have a more accurate picture of the real costs and you can make a more informed decision.

The same thing is true in the world of grant writing. People see the costs associated with hiring a professional grant writer and some decide it's definitely a worthwhile expense (the smart ones) while others decide that it's just too much and they'd rather do it themselves.

So, can you afford to hire a grant writer?  Before you answer that question, you need to ask yourself another very important question:  How much will writing your grant yourself really cost you?

First, consider the value of your time. Your time is definitely worth something.  If you'll be writing the grant proposal during your work hours, you can apply your hourly or daily rate.  If you'll be working on it beyond work  hours during your personal time, you'll need to assign a value to that time also.  What is an hour of time with your children worth to you? We're talking about opportunity cost here. If you're working on the grant, you're giving up time that could have been spent on something else. Everything is a trade off.

Next, you'll need to calculate the value of the time of anyone who will be assisting you - administrative assistants, accounting clerks, collaborative partners, etc. Their time counts, too

Then, figure out how many hours the project will take you to complete. This is not easy task.  I can tell you for certain that it will take you more time than you expect.  So, once you have calculated the number of hours you expect to spend, add 30%.

When you multiple the number of hours by the hourly rate, you'll have an estimate of the cost, in dollars, of writing your own grant.  At this point, most people realize that hiring a professional grant writer is definitely worth it, but we haven't even come to the most expensive part of the equation.

If you are successful with your grant application, the expense will seem worth it, right?  But if you are not successful, your decision to do it yourself will have cost you not only the time involved in preparing the proposal, but the amount of the grant award itself.

The truth is that professional grant writers who write grants for a living (as opposed to those who do it as a side job or as a hobby) have a much higher success rate than the average, so your chances of actually getting the grant are higher when you use a real professional than if you do it yourself.  That risk vs. success factor should also be calculated into your decision.

The next time you think that hiring a professional grant writer is too expensive, ask yourself how much doing it yourself will really cost you.

Related Posts:

Grant Writing Training at Taco Bell?

Gauging the Success of a Proposal Writer

Grant Writing is a Team Sport


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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.