What Do You Need In a Grant Writer?

Our district has decided to contact with a grant writer. What are some of the qualities we should seek in candidates?

Experience and a good track record for writing winning proposals are obvious needs, but you’ll want to look at the underlying skills that make grant writers successful over a period of time. Almost anyone who can follow an outline, do some basic research, and write well is able to generate a successful proposal, but you don’t want someone who regularly approaches grant writing as an 11th hour exercise in beating deadlines!

Organization, attention to detail, the ability to manage complicated proposals, and good people skills are all critical attributes of a grant writer who has staying power. You will also want to make certain that the person you select has the time to devote his/her full attention to your project. Finally, some grant writers will offer to write on a contingency basis, where they are not actually paid for writing the grant, but then recoup these fees by writing themselves in as the project evaluator. Think carefully before accepting such a proposal. While it may appear to be a good deal initially, the fees written into the grant may be higher than the cost would have been to pay separately for the proposal writing and evaluation. Also, in these cases you don’t have the option of changing evaluators if a problem occurs down the road, because you’ve traded upfront costs for an agreement that runs the life of the project.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young

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