Friday, June 3, 2011

Should You Write Grants in Exchange for Evaluations?

I get asked on a regular basis by potential grant writing clients, “Will you write the grant for the evaluation?”
“No,” is the answer I give.
I have a good reason for saying no and not negotiating the point.  In the Middle Eastern bazaar that is grant consulting negotiations, a grant writer must be clear on what they’re selling.
I write about this today because I’ve spent the last two days slaving over a hot copy machine scanning thousands upon thousands of surveys. Stacks of surveys that are crumpled, mis-marked, unmarked, sticky; surveys printed on multicolored paper that threw the scanner into photo-static conniptions, surveys that are un-scannable because some staffer decided a significant portion didn’t need to be completed by respondents because there was a sticker affixed with the same information - a sticker that can’t be read by the scanning software (genius) so that data for a thousand surveys now must be hand-entered.
And don’t get me started on the scanning software which can’t always read a clearly marked dot due to some mystery of arcane software programming.
It’s all well and good if one is paid to do this evaluation work, which we are; it is entirely another thing to do this work in exchange for writing the original grant application - which we are not.
“What does any of this scanning work or the analysis and interpretation of this data, have to do with grant writing?”
That’s right.
That's why I always say no.

A grant writer who takes a grant in compensation for the evaluation is doing two jobs for the price of one. That grant writer may also be guilty of one or all of these things:

  •          Being a foolish business person;
  •          Undervaluing their services;
  •          Being complicit in breaking some laws depending on the funding source;
  •          Undermining the general value of grant writers in the marketplace.
As the Grant Goddess would tell you, “Grant writing and program evaluation are different disciplines.”  A client who asks a grant writer to write for free in exchange for the evaluation contract is comparable to a homeowner telling a landscape architect that she should design and install the landscaping free of charge in exchange for a contract to maintain it. That’s the kind of suggestion that could merit a leaf blower up the nose.

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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.