Friday, January 13, 2012

How NOT To Do It

I usually like to publish positive tips for improving your grant writing skills, but every now and then I come across such a great example of what not to do that I can't help but share it.

21st Century Community Learning Center grants were due earlier this week.  A little over two months ago, I approached one of my longstanding clients about writing one.  The reply was a cool, "No, we've got people who can handle this one."  I replied as I always do to when a client declines my services.  I wished them luck and reminded them that if they need any help or would just like me to do a quick read (free of charge, of course) and give some feedback before they submitted the grant, I would be glad to help. I was assured that they wouldn't need my help.

Then I let it go.

I moved on with that grant with contracts I acquired with two other clients.  Everything progressed as expected.

Then, at 3:00 p.m. on deadline day (proposals had to be received by the funding agency by 5:00 p.m.) I got a call from someone representing that client who wanted their login and password for the online system so they could upload their proposal.

First of all, I didn't have their login and password for that particular system. If I'd had it, I would have provided it immediately. The other problem, though, is that this online system was a little strange. Applicants were required to complete a lot of forms online and submit them online.  Then, they needed to print some of them for signatures, and then combine those forms with the grant narrative and attachments and submit the hard copy to the funding source.  The whole package was not to be uploaded at all.

That meant that once these folks found a login and password, they would have to get those forms filled out, print some of them, gather more signatures, assemble their whole package, and hand deliver it to the funding source.  It would take them 30-40 minutes to get there to deliver the package.

I don't know how it turned out, but it's pretty likely they missed the deadline.

What's the big takeaway lesson here?

If you are submitting a grant through any electronic system, acquiring a login and password and checking out the system and submittal procedures is one of the first things you should be doing, not the last.

These folks fell into the trap of focusing on the preparation of the narrative, rather than seeing the entire process. It's a mistake that may have cost them half a million dollars.

Try reading A Writer's Journey and Sexy Grant Writers for more tips, hints, and even laughs.

What to see some examples of successful grant proposals to help you improve your grant writing skills?  Visit Grant Samples.

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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.