Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Brain Science of Grant Clients

Sometimes a grant writer is faced with an agency which has a Threshold Guardian beyond whom no man, woman, nor beast with an RFP shall pass. This can be explained by brain research about the left and right side of the brain.

The Threshold Guardians are usually Left Brainers. Left Brainers are hostile toward grants because they detest them more than an unbalanced checkbook. They may even experience a phobia about grant writers, because of their association with grants, causing them to dart furtively into maintenance closets.

I think of these grant-phobic-types as Left Brainers because the real reason they’re rankled by grants has nothing to do with the potential good a grant may do; they abhor grants because grants add uncertainty and complexity to their work lives in areas they need to control; that is, keeping the x’s and o’s in the right columns; and dotting all the I’s; crossing all of the T’s; and getting out the door promptly at quitting time. These functions give a Left Brainer pleasure and a reason to get out of bed; a way to maintain control; and the means to draw small boxes around their jobs or the missions of their organizations.

On the other side of the client brain types are grant champions, those charming and beautiful, grant loving people whom I lovingly refer to as Right Brainers. These are the big picture dreamer types who can accommodate the new ideas, change, and creativity that grants produce. Right Brainers express earnest intentions to willingly accept the extra drudge work that a grant entails; the accounting, the personnel functions, the labeling of equipment; and the cooperative planning. Right Brainers understand that extra work goes hand-in-hand with making things happen (as opposed to maintaining the status quo), which is what grant lovers are all about. The Right Brainers are entrepreneurial grant people.

To be fair, not all Left Brainers are entirely grant-phobic; but I believe a scientific study would reveal that grant phobia is in direct proportion to a person's level of activity on the right side of their brain. I’ve never met a Right Brainer that didn’t love a good grant (although a few shouldn't be running a carnival booth much less a grant program, but that’s another post entirely).

Left Brain grant misanthropes wear striped pajamas and block your path with crossed swords while Right Brainers welcome you in and offer you tea and shortbread (and contracts); so preferring Right Brainers is a No-Brainer for a working grant writer.

For further reference on the difference between Left and Right Brain functions, see below:

Description of the Left-Hemisphere Functions
Constantly monitors our sequential, ongoing behavior
Responsible for awareness of time, sequence, details, and order
Responsible for auditory receptive and verbal expressive strengths
Specializes in words, logic, analytical thinking, reading, and writing
Responsible for boundaries and knowing right from wrong
Knows and respects rules and deadlines

Description of the Right-Hemisphere Functions
Alerts us to novelty; tells us when someone is lying or making a joke
Specializes in understanding the whole picture
Specializes in music, art, visual-spatial and/or visual-motor activities
Helps us form mental images when we read and/or converse
Responsible for intuitive and emotional responses.
Helps us to form and maintain relationships
(Connell, Diane, Left Brain/Right Brain: Pathways To Reach Every Learneraccessed 1/24/12)

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Photo Credit: Attilio Lombardo

1 comment:

Jason Shechtman said...

Great post! I'm exploring the posts on your blog now. Very entertaining!

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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.