Friday, April 22, 2011

Grant Writing Contracts

Every grant writer needs to have a contract format.  Most of us are not lawyers so here are some basics parts needed in a legally enforceable contract.

Disclaimer – this was not written by a lawyer and is not intended as “legal advice.” Readers may use this information to develop a contract format but do so at their own risk. It’s wise to consult with an attorney when you develop a legal contract for your grant writing business.

All that being said; I developed my own contract and never consulted a lawyer until I needed to force a deadbeat former client to pay me for a grant I wrote for them (and which was fully funded too!).  My self-devised contract held enough validity to force the deadbeat to pay - of course I lost the portion of that fee the lawyer charged me but I was vindicated.

Freelance grant writers should use a contract that has the three enforceable components: (1) offer and acceptance; (2) legal intent; and, (3) consideration.  At the most basic level, a contract is  binds two or more parties in an agreement to perform acts specified within the language of the contract in exchange for something of value.

 Offer and Acceptance  (This is the heart of "The Deal")
All contracts involve an offer by one party and an acceptance of the offer by the other party. The offer is detailed in the contract and the other party can sign the contract in acceptance of the terms or not.

A grant writer offers services in exchange for money and the client may choose to sign the contract or not.

 Intent of the Contract 
The grant writer and their client must enter into the agreement with the intent of binding themselves to the terms of the contract. Signing the contract is evidence of the intent so never even start to write a grant for anyone unless you have a signed contract.

 Contractual Consideration 
Contracts must include a consideration (a recompense or payment, as for work done; compensation - dictionary.com) of value in order to be legally binding. This means that both the grant writer and the client must receive something of value from binding themselves to the contract. Grant writers are only likely to enter a contract in which the consideration is money.  But the client enters into the contract for a different type of consideration, and that is the promise to perform grant writing work. A grant writer who enters into a contract and fails to complete and submit the grant is in danger of being sued for failure to perform.

 Parties to the Contract 
The grant writer and the client who is to sign the contract must be legally able to participate in the deal. This means that the signatory for the client agency must be legally authorized to enter into a contract for that agency.  In a school district, the people with authorization to bind the agency to a contract are only those who are authorized in an approved action of the Board of Directors. If the person who signs is not legally authorized to sign, then you probably have an unenforceable contract (ask an attorney).

 Before You Enter a Contract 
Sometimes a client has a standard contract format they prefer to use.  Read any contract carefully including the fine print.  If you are unable to understand all the language, consult with an attorney before you bind yourself to it.

If you want another opinion, ask another grant writer.


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Photo Credit - Henk L

1 comment:

Jack Hall said...

I am recenlty looking for a job of research proposal writing so definetly your post hlep me to understand basic contract format this is surely help me. Thanks for sharing this.

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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.