Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. "Making life better!"
Good Advice for Grantwriters in General & About Us in Particular
Over the past decade we have written proposals that were funded for a total of tens of millions of dollars, read a great many proposals as members of review panels, and even written a few that were not funded. Fortunately, the number in the latter category has fallen substantially over the years due to lessons we have learned the hard way.
RULE #1: Start early. A grant put together at the last minute looks like it. Larger awards, those in the range of hundreds of thousands or over a million dollars generally require plenty of advance planning. For example, it is common to ask for needs assessment data that may be hard to find at the last minute. How many people on your reservation have a disability? How many of them are unemployed and seeking work? How many youth are in special education? This type of information is not difficult to obtain, but it may not be immediately available.
RULE #2: Expect to be involved in the grantwriting process. We at Spirit Lake Consulting will be very happy to put your vision into a proposal that stands a good chance of funding. We will not, however, come up with the vision for you. This is your project. You need to tell us what you want to see happen, who the key people are, how you want the project structured and how you will define success.When the grant gets funded, it is you that will have to run it. Make sure that the project you are proposing is the one that you really want to do. On occasion, we will approach an organization and suggest a specific project, but this only happens with clients with whom we have worked for such a long time that we believe we have a good idea of their needs, strengths and interests.
RULE #3: Do NOT try to fit your program to a specific grant competition. For example, if you really have a program for treating people with substance abuse problems, do NOT submit to a research competition and try to convince the reviewers that you are doing research on the effectiveness of your treatment program. This rarely works to get funding. We have sat on many review panels and reviewers can generally see right through this. We all tried it and it didn't work for us, either. Find a grant competition that fits your project, not the other way around.
RULE #4: If you work with us, expect to be given several reviews and asked for your opinion many times. GIVE US YOUR OPINION. We would much rather be told by you about a flaw in a design or a reason that it would not work in your organization than to have a reviewer identify it and lose out on funding.
RULE #5: If we give you several drafts of a proposal over a period of two months, do NOT leave them all lying on your desk and then tell us about the seven major problems you have identified the day before the proposal is due. There is a law that prevents us from killing people who do this, but we're not sure why.
RULE #6: Expect us to tell you when we believe a proposal has a very low probability of funding. This may be because it is very competitive and they receive many times more proposals than they can fund. It may be because your organization does not fit very well with the expectations of the funding agency, for example, you work for an elementary school and they want to fund secondary programs.
On what to expect from a grantwriter in payment and performance. This is the most practical article I have read. I happen to agree with almost everything in it. (And no, I didn't write it.)
We would be very happy to discuss any interests you have in our grantwriting services.Just email us.
Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. -- P.O.Box 663, 314 Circle Dr., Fort Totten, ND 58335 Tel: (701) 351-2175 Fax: (800) 905 -2571
Email us at: Info@SpiritLakeConsulting.com