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Myth: It all should be done in no time.

Reality: The required time varies.


This post is part of a series on Myths in Grant Seeking.


The Myth of Instantaneity relates to how long a client (or an employer), as an applicant, should expect a grant writer to take to write a fundable competitive grant proposal. It appears as: ‘Writing a grant proposal shouldn’t take a lot of time.’ If it does not take a lot of time to prepare a winning proposal, then it also should not cost a lot in fees or salaries to prepare one, which leads to a corollary myth, which commonly occurs as: ‘It shouldn’t cost a lot to create a winning grant proposal.’


Like many persistent myths in grant seeking, the Myth of Instantaneity greatly oversimplifies the realities of writing proposals that win grants. If those writing a proposal are experienced, it should take them less time to do it than if they are inexperienced. If those writing a proposal are familiar with the grant maker and the funding program, it should take them less time to do it than if they are unfamiliar with either or both of them. If a proposal under consideration is as short as a typical letter of inquiry, it should take less time to create it than would a 300-page full proposal with an itemized and justified budget and a suite of supporting appendices.


In contrast to the expectations underlying the Myth of Instantaneity, a more reasonable expectation is that it may take considerable time (and expense) to develop a competitive grant proposal. Just how much time it takes ultimately will depend upon the specific grant writer and on what needs to be submitted.


In general, the time it takes to prepare a competitive grant proposal will reflect several factors. Among such factors are:

(1) The grant writer’s level of experience

(2) The grant writer’s familiarity with the grant maker and its funding program

(3) The applicant’s degree of readiness

(4) The applicant’s pre-submission proposal review and approval processes

(5) The required proposal length

(6) The amount of funding requested (and the budget’s required level of detail)

(7) The number of organizations involved as partners in a proposal

(8) The number of persons and organizations contributing information to a proposal


In turn, each of these factors impacts the actual costs of creating competitive grant proposals and the time needed to create them. Each factor thus contributes to the proposals’ lack of instantaneity.


The next post in this series on Myths in Grant Seeking will address the Myth of Uniformity.


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