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This new post explores grant consultants’ fees in 2017 for such services as creating funding development plans or devising project evaluation plans. It is part of an ongoing series. Other new posts for 2017 will explore: hourly rates and flat rates, retainer fees, prospect research fees, and other topics related to how grant writing consultants earn an income. The context for all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Fixed Fee Assignments

In early 2017, beyond stating hourly rates, per proposal rates, retainer fees, and proposal review fees, some grant writing consultants also publish cost information about other services. The most frequently encountered rates for ancillary services are those for fixed fee assignments for private sector prospect research and/or private sector proposal development. The costs range from $375 to $7,500 – for finding one to five private sector grant leads and/or for writing one to five proposals – to from $7,000 to $19,200 – for finding 10 grant leads and/or for writing 10 proposals. Some consultants offer to find as many as 40 grant leads for $20,000 (equivalent to $500 per lead); grant proposals to submit to those leads cost more.

 

  Minimum Funders Maximum Funders
Consultant/Firm 1 $375 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $500 5 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 3 $800 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,000 15 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 5 $1,200 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 2 $7,500 3 leads Unstated Unstated
Consultant/Firm 6 $795 1 lead $20,000 40 leads
Consultant/Firm 7 $4,000 5 leads $19,200 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 8 $5,500 3 leads $7,000 10 leads
Consultant/Firm 9 $8,000 5 leads $9,000 10 leads

 

Some consultants offer to help grant seekers with program design or with (often more extensive) program development. Sampled fees run from $200 to $6,000 or more.

  

  Minimum Maximum Services
Consultant/Firm 1 $200 $500 Program development with logic model
Consultant/Firm 2 $2,500 $6,000 Program development
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 Unstated Program design
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,000 Unstated Program design
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,500 Unstated Strategic guidance
Consultant/Firm 6 $100/hr Unstated Program development from concept to proposal

 

Grant Writing Workshops

Few consultants offer workshops for grant-related staff development. Perhaps one reason for the infrequency of such ancillary services is that they compete directly with associations of non-profits, universities, the Grantsmanship Center, the Foundation Center, and other providers of similar workshops and courses. The current consultants’ workshops may last one to three days. Consultants now commonly charge for them by the day (e.g., $1,500/day) plus itemized expenses. The most frequently cited expenses to be billed are those of travel, lodging, and office support (e.g., printing, copying, mailing, or shipping).

 

  Daily Rates Travel and Expense Surcharge
Consultant/Firm 1 $1,500.day Yes
Consultant/Firm 2 $1,500/day Yes
Consultant/Firm 3 $5,000/day Yes

 

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This new post explores grant consultants’ proposal revision and review fees in early 2017. It is part of an ongoing series. Earlier posts explored hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), prospect research fees, and retainer fees. Other new posts for 2017 will explore hourly rates and flat rates for technical assistance and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The context for all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Proposal Reviews and Revisions

At times, potential clients of grant writing consultants may already have a grant proposal available in a more or less inchoate form. Consultants may offer to proofread and edit a preliminary or pre-existing proposal rather than insist that they write it from its inception. They also may offer to play the role of third-party technical reviewers before a draft or a revision is made final. Consultants may furnish critiques of such unfinished proposals and may suggest how to improve them. Alternatively, they may contract both to provide a critique of a proposal and to revise or rewrite it entirely.

Consultants vary the rates they charge to critique, edit, and revise proposals based upon such factors as the proposal’s length and the complexity of its subject or focus. They may offer to charge for services up to a pre-determined not-to-exceed amount and/or to provide review and revision services for a minimum flat fee. Many consultants accept such review-and-revise assignments on a case-by-case basis and do not publish specialized rate schedules for such services.

Sample Review and Revision Rates

As the table below indicates, in 2017, flat rates for review and revision – as stated on consultants’ websites – vary from $200 to $6,000 per grant proposal reviewed and/or revised. Higher-end consultants may charge a minimum of $2,500 (10 hours at $250 per hour) for each proposal they critique – the same rate as found in 2016.

In 2017, consultants’ declared hourly rates for reviews and revisions of grant proposals are from $35 to $250. Many consultants stipulate a set number of hours that they will charge clients for such services – typically, a minimum of 10 hours.

As may be observed, consultants’ charges for reviews and revisions often approach what the same consultants will charge per hour for developing a brand new proposal from start to finish.

Review/Revision Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $200 $500
Consultant/Firm 2 $200 $500
Consultant/Firm 3 $350 $750
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 5 $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm 6 $750 $1,200
Consultant/Firm 7 $3,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $3,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,200 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $2,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $35/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $45/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $65/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 16 $75/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $85/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $120/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $250/hour Unstated

 

This post explores grant writing consultants’ retainer fees in early 2017. It is part of an ongoing series. The data that it presents are newly researched. Other new posts for 2017 will explore hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), proposal review and revision fees, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The context for all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Retainer Fees

A retainer fee offers clients priority access to consultants’ services. Many grant consultants are willing to work under a retainer agreement for a small subset of select clients. Retainers work well when there is a steady flow of work and when the client and the consultant have a long-term relationship.

The client and the consultant both benefit from the predictability of the retainer arrangement. A typical retainer commits both parties to a specified minimum number of hours of service per month and to a specified number of months the agreement is to be in effect. Often the minimum number of hours is 10 hours per month and the minimum number of months is either 3 or 6. Often the retainer is paid monthly. In setting their retainer fees, some consultants offer discounts off their standard hourly rates.

Services agreed upon in the retainer will depend upon the specific contract. Among such services may be one or more of:

  • Providing advisory and consulting services
  • Participating in planning sessions with client staff
  • Making presentations to client staff
  • Doing grant prospect research
  • Providing grant opportunity alerts
  • Preparing a set number of letters of inquiry per month
  • Providing assistance in proposal development
  • Developing a set number of proposals per month

 

Sample Retainers

As the table below indicates, a retainer fee may cost as little as $100 per month or as much as $12,000 per month. Calculated on a quarterly basis, these extremes represent a fee range of $300 to $36,000; on a yearly basis, they represent a fee range of $1,200 to $144,000.

Retainer Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $100/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 2 $400/month $800/month
Consultant/Firm 3 $1,500/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 4 $1,875/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,000/month $3,000/month
Consultant/Firm 6 $3,000/month $5,000/month
Consultant/Firm 7 $6,000/month $8,000/month
Consultant/Firm 8 $8,000/month $12,000/month
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,000/month Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $3,000/month Unstated

 

Presented data reflect information provided on a sampled set of consultants’ websites from early 2017 which address the topic of retainer fees. They reflect little change in such fees since 2016. Other samples taken at different times may lead to different results.

This post explores grant consultants’ prospect research fees in early 2017. It updates an earlier post for 2016. It is part of an ongoing series. Other new posts for 2017 will explore hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), retainer fees, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The context for all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Prospect Research Fees

Prospect research is the search for viable grant opportunities. Grant writing consultants often do prospect research for client grant-seekers. If the client can set some of the research’s parameters ahead of time (e.g., search terms, funding type, beneficiaries, grant award range), the search for potential funders is apt to be that much more efficient and often less costly. Often consultants offer to find a fixed number of grant prospects at a flat rate per prospect and with a minimum number of prospects to be delivered. Grant writing consultants may adjust their prospect research fees based upon:

  • The number of prospects to be identified
  • The extensiveness and scope of the search for potential funders
  • The nature of the project concept
  • The amount of the anticipated budget request
  • The size of the client’s organization

 

At the search’s end, consultants may deliver to clients a detailed and prioritized list of possible grant sources; an analysis of the chances of obtaining grants from each source; and a plan for what to do next to pursue grants from the best prospects.

Sample Fees

Grant writing consultants’ charges for prospect research services vary widely. As the table below indicates, they can range from $500 to $5,000 per funding report. The ultimate cost of such searches may observe a pre-established not-to-exceed amount. In early 2017, evaluations of identified grant leads – held either on-site or conducted remotely with a client – may be charged at hourly rates of from $50 to $150 or more. It is perhaps noteworthy that the ranges found in exploring flat rates and hourly rates for prospect research remain the same as were found early in 2016.

Prospect Research Fees Minimum Rates Maximum Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $500 $750
Consultant/Firm 2 $500 $3,200
Consultant/Firm 3 $750 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 4 $2,000 $4,000
Consultant/Firm 5 $2,000 $4,000
Consultant/Firm 6 $2,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 7 $2,500 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 8 150 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 195 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 250 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 300 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 300 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 550 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 600 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 16 1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 2,550 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 21 $50/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 22 $60/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 23 $75/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm 24 $75/hour Unstated

 

Charges for prospect research vary with its nature, scope, and complexity. Private grant makers are far more numerous than public ones. In general, potential grant seekers can expect to spend measurably less for a search limited to state and federal grant prospects, and measurably more for one limited to foundation and corporate grant prospects.

This review of data from websites in early 2017 is new. It is part of an ongoing series. It confirms that grant consultants’ hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), which they charge for services, continue to vary greatly. Other posts in the series for 2017 will explore: retainer rates, prospect research rates, proposal review and editing rates, and other topics related to how grant consultants earn an income. The context for all posts in this series will be the United States of America.

Hourly Rates

Proposals submitted to corporations or foundations are often significantly less complex (and thus generally less costly for clients) than those submitted to units of local, state, or federal government. Consequently, many consultants vary their rates based on the type of grant maker. Other consultants do not differentiate among types of grant makers.

Hourly rates for writing grant proposals vary greatly. According to PayScale.com, as of early 2017, the hourly pay rates for a self-selected sample of salaried Grant Writers vary by stage of career. For early career, the range is $14.35 to $30.67; for mid-career, the range is $17.12 to $38.59; for experienced, the range is $17.94 to $50.38; and for late career, the range is $19.50 to $70.96.

The range of self-reported bonuses varies, with larger bonuses reported for mid-career salaried Grant Writers than for late career or for early career.

In early 2017, grant writing consultants’ hourly rates tend to be higher than those of many salaried Grant Writers. Based on a review of sampled websites of consultants doing business across the United States, the standard rates billed to clients for grant writing and related consulting services stretch from $35 per hour to $250 per hour. The median for sampled rates is $80 per hour, which is $15 less per hour than in 2016. Most sampled rates fall between $50 and $100 per hour, which is $1,000 to $2,000 for every 20 billable hours.

Some grant writing consultants offer lower rates for non-profit clients versus other types of clients. They also offer lower rates for writing grant proposals versus other kinds of grant-related services (e.g., grants management or project evaluation). In addition, some consultants specify a minimum number of hours (e.g., 20 hours at $100/hour) or a minimum not-to-exceed amount (e.g., $10,000).

Flat Rates

An alternative to charging by the hour is to charge a flat rate (also called a per proposal rate or a per project rate). Grant writing consultants often indicate that they will need to do a thorough analysis of the details of a grant opportunity before quoting a flat rate.

Consultants’ actual flat rates vary by such factors as the lead-time to prepare and turn around the proposal, the complexity of the project, the proposal’s length, the amount of the grant request, and the time needed to complete the assignment. Most consultants vary their rates by the type of grant source: foundation, corporation, state, federal. Some consultants also vary their rates by the nature of the proposal document – a letter of inquiry, a letter of intent to apply, and a corporate solicitation letter tend to cost considerably less than a full-length grant proposal to be sent to a government agency.

As the table below indicates, the floor that some grant writing consultants quote for a basic proposal (typically for a private foundation) may be as low as $500 or even less. Other consultants may set the floor at $5,000, $6,000, or $12,500. The ceilings quoted for a more complicated proposal may be $10,000 or $12,000; however, such flat-rate ceilings may reach $15,000, $45,000, or even $60,000. Beyond such wide variations in quoted flat rates, consultants may charge a premium for preparing a proposal with a very short lead-time before it is due, regardless of its source.

Grant Writing Services Minimum Flat Rates Maximum Flat Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $195 $995
Consultant/Firm 2 $500 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 3 $500 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 4 $500 $3,000
Consultant/Firm 5 $500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 6 $500 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 7 $600 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 8 $950 $2,000
Consultant/Firm 9 $1,000 $3,500
Consultant/Firm 10 $1,000 $5,000
Consultant/Firm 11 $1,000 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 12 $1,000 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 13 $1,500 $8,000
Consultant/Firm 14 $1,500 $10,000
Consultant/Firm 15 $1,500 $45,000
Consultant/Firm 16 $2,250 $6,000
Consultant/Firm 17 $2,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 18 $2,500 $12,000
Consultant/Firm 19 $3,500 $7,500
Consultant/Firm 20 $5,000 $11,000
Consultant/Firm 21 $5,000 $12,000
Consultant/Firm 22 $5,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 23 $5,500 $7,000
Consultant/Firm 24 $6,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 25 $6,000 $15,000
Consultant/Firm 26 $6,970 $7,650
Consultant/Firm 27 $12,500 $60,000
Consultant/Firm 28 $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 29 $2,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 30 $3,300 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 31 $4,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 32 $4,000 Unstated

 

In 2017, grant writing consultants often require advance payment in full if the contracted flat rate falls below a predefined threshold. The most frequently stated threshold – $3,000 plus or minus $500 – is the same as it was in 2016 and in 2015. If the flat rate exceeds a given threshold, consultants generally require 50% of the total contract to be paid in advance. They make the balances due either upon delivery of the completed proposal or within either 15 days or 30 days after delivery.

Many consultants provide hourly rates, typically as an alternative to flat rates and sometimes in addition to flat rates. Such hourly rates may be one definite amount or they may cover a range, where which rate will apply will depend upon the nature of services to be performed. In 2017, most of the hourly rates found in an online search are $50 to $100, with a median of $80.

Grant Writing Services Minimum Hourly Rates Maximum Hourly Rates
Consultant/Firm 1 $50 $65
Consultant/Firm 2 $60 $100
Consultant/Firm 3 $100 $130
Consultant/Firm 4 $100 $150
Consultant/Firm 5 $50 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 6 $50 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 7 $50 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 8 $65 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 9 $70 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 10 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 11 $75 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 12 $80 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 13 $80 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 14 $80 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 15 $85 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 16 $95 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 17 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 18 $100 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 19 $120 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 20 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 21 $125 Unstated
Consultant/Firm 22 $150 Unstated

 

This post presents data for early 2017. It updates an earlier post for 2016. It explores what Grant Writers are paid as compensation in terms of median salaries. Subsequent posts will explore compensation in terms of hourly rates and flat fees, retainer fees, review and revision fees, and other aspects of compensation. All data will be for the United States of America.

Median Salaries for Grants/Proposal Writers

What Grant Writers earn reflects many factors. Among them are years of experience, level of educational attainment, geographic location, and the nature of the employer.

For early 2017, Salary.com has reported in that the national median annual salary for “Grants/Proposal Writers” was $65,549, which is up only 1.9% from 2016. The middle 50% earned from $58,724 to $73,629; the bottom 10% earned $52,510 or less; and the top 10% earned $81,004 or more. These base salaries represented about 71% of total compensation; the other 29% were fringe benefits and bonuses.

Calculated on a full 52-week year, the same national median annual salary works out to $1,260.56 per week, and the range for the middle 50% becomes from $1,129.31 to $1,415.94 per week. Calculated over a 2,080-hour work-year, the same national median annual salary works out to $31.51 per hour, and the same range for the middle 50% becomes from $28.23 to $35.40 per hour.

Median Salaries By Selected Cities

As of early 2017, “median annual salaries” in selected cities searched on Salary.com ranged from $52,485 in Helena, Montana to $81,005 in San Francisco, California. Most of the medians for these cities fell in the range of $63,000 to $68,000. In the past year, Lincoln, NE saw by far the largest gain in median salary – an enviable gain equivalent to 11.24% compared to a national gain of only 1.9%.

Median Annual Salaries — 2016 and 2017 Data Comparison
  2016 Salary.com Data 2017 Salary.com Data
Portland, ME $66,318 $65,527
Boston, MA $69,503 $73,907
New York, NY $75,881 $75,883
Washington, DC $71,408 $70,365
Charlotte, NC $64,213 $64,080
Atlanta, GA $64,902 $65,015
Tampa, FL $61,350 $63,049
Houston, TX $64,741 $65,943
Dallas, TX $64,722 $64,908
Tulsa, OK $61,221 $63,592
Nashville, TN $60,803 $61,346
Cincinnati, OH $62,830 $62,702
Indianapolis, IN $61,897 $64,337
Chicago, IL $67,676 $68,818
Minneapolis, MN $67,347 $66,333
Bismarck, ND $58,370 $59,453
Lincoln, NE $55,860 $62,137
Casper, WY $58,672 $59,761
Helena, MT $51,529 $52,485
Boise, ID $62,148 $63,722
Seattle, WA $68,789 $70,970
Portland, OR $66,414 $67,587
San Francisco, CA $78,584 $81,005
Los Angeles, CA $70,559 $72,460
Salt Lake City, UT $61,182 $63,523
Denver, CO $65,044 $66,251
Albuquerque, NM $59,284 $61,223
Phoenix, AZ $62,939 $65,065
Anchorage, AK $72,657 $74,440
Honolulu, HI $69,857 $68,342
USA $64,355 $65,549

It may be worth noting that year-to-year gains in median annual salaries were not uniform across the country. Out of the 30 selected cities presented in the table, five saw year-to-year declines and another pair saw year-to-year gains of $200 or less.

 

Median Salaries 2017

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why grant proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to proposal development (writing and budgeting) and delivery (publishing). These reasons for funding outcomes are among those that are most amenable to a grant seeker’s influence or control.

Other posts in the series have explored other reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that have fallen along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal content

 

A grant proposal may succeed or fail for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect aspects of the proposal as an act of writing and budgeting. Other reasons reflect aspects of the proposal as an act of publishing. These reasons are largely within the control of a grant seeker.

 

Development

Some reasons a grant proposal may fail to win funding pertain to the development of that proposal:

  • Its tone is too formal or too informal
  • Its narrative is too long or too brief
  • Its narrative includes too many extraneous details
  • Its narrative omits key details
  • Its narrative fails to convey organizational competence and/or staff expertise
  • It fails to convey the significance of a problem and/or its solution
  • Its grammar or punctuation is deficient
  • Its text has too many spelling errors
  • Its budget has too many arithmetical errors
  • Its contents are internally inconsistent (e.g., budget and activities)
  • Its content requires too much effort to read (e.g., no headings)
  • It uses too much technical jargon
  • It uses technical terms incorrectly
  • It uses too many acronyms
  • It does not explain what its acronyms mean
  • It omits required information

 

Delivery

Other reasons a grant proposal may fail to win funding pertain to the delivery of a proposal:

  • It uses incorrect application forms
  • It fails to provide all information required on application forms
  • It uses an incorrect document format
  • Its font type or size, margin size, or text-spacing ignore instructions
  • It uses an incorrect file format (e.g., .doc or .pdf)
  • It lacks required print or electronic signatures
  • It omits required attachments or appendices
  • It includes inappropriate attachments or appendices
  • It omits a required letter of transmittal or cover letter
  • Parts or all of it lacks page numbers
  • Its parts or sections are out of a required sequence
  • Required sections or pages are missing
  • It is uploaded far too close to an online application deadline
  • Its contents after uploading are incomplete

 

This is the last post in this series.

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to proposal content (or lack of it). Content is among those reasons for funding outcomes that are most amenable to a grant seeker’s control or influence.

Other posts in the series explore other reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that will fall along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal may succeed or fail for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect the proposal’s qualities as an instrument of exposition and persuasion; these reasons are largely within the control or influence of a grant seeker.

 

Content

A grant proposal may fail to win funding for reasons related to its content if:

  • It does not clearly fit a funder’s interests or priorities
  • It does not clearly reflect the funder’s interests or priorities
  • It lacks a well-defined goal
  • It does not link its goal to a funder’s goal
  • It lacks measurable objectives
  • Its expected outputs and outcomes are unclear
  • Its objectives are not attainable in the time available
  • Its work plan is not feasible in the time available
  • It fails to demonstrate a clear and compelling need
  • It presents inadequate data to make its case
  • It provides obsolete or incomplete data to support need
  • Its activities do not follow a logical sequence
  • Its timeline for activities or deliverables is unclear
  • It does not identify persons responsible for key activities
  • Its personnel appear to lack skills necessary for their roles
  • Time commitments of key personnel are insufficient
  • It fails to convey organizational capacity and accomplishments
  • It fails to base its strategies on proven approaches
  • It offers no plan to monitor progress or to adjust strategies
  • Its research rationale or literature review is out of date
  • Its evaluation design fails to measure attainment of objectives
  • Its identified evaluation instruments are inappropriate
  • Its budget is unreasonable (too high)
  • Its budget is inadequate (too low)
  • Its budget is not justified or explained
  • Its budget includes explicitly disallowed cost items
  • Its budget does not reflect the funder’s priorities

 

The next post in this series will explore the development and delivery of an applicant’s grant proposal as potential reasons for its funding outcome.

 

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why grant proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to an applicant’s state of readiness to apply for a competitively awarded grant – or to manage one if it were awarded. These reasons are among those at least partially amenable to a grant seeker’s control or influence.

Other posts in the series explore reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that will fall along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Proposal content
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal succeeds or fails for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect aspects of the applicant’s leadership. Other reasons reflect aspects of the applicant’s resources. Still other reasons reflect aspects of the applicant’s procedures.

 

Leadership

A proposal may not win a grant if an applicant’s leadership:

  • Lacks firm commitment to pursuing a particular grant opportunity
  • Wavers, procrastinates, equivocates, or acts indecisively before a grant deadline
  • Decides to apply for a grant too close to its application deadline
  • Lacks a pre-existing proposal submission approval process
  • Demands too much lead time or requires too many steps to approve submitting a proposal
  • Decides not to submit a proposal–or decides to submit one–but does so only at the eleventh hour

 

Resources

A proposal may fail for reasons related to an applicant’s access to resources if:

  • Available data do not substantiate need
  • Appropriately qualified key personnel cannot be identified or described
  • Appropriate partnering agencies are unavailable for a required partnership
  • One or more required partners withdraw from a proposal near its deadline
  • Partnering agencies cannot agree to terms on a memorandum of understanding
  • Qualifications of available and identified personnel are inadequate
  • Applicant is unable to adopt a required evaluation design (e.g., an experimental design)
  • Assets are insufficient to commit any to matching funds or to provide cost sharing

 

Procedures

A proposal may fail for reasons reflecting procedural readiness if the applicant:

  • Has fiscal management practices and products that are not audit-ready
  • Lacks formal human subjects research policies and procedures
  • Lacks formal confidentiality and privacy policies and procedures
  • Fails to submit a required letter of intent or a required pre-proposal
  • Fails to submit a memorandum of understanding endorsed by all partners
  • Does not secure authorized signatures are unavailable before a proposal submission deadline

 

The next post in this series will explore the contents of an applicant’s grant proposal as potential reasons for its funding outcome.

This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is cover letters. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Sometimes an applicant must send a brief cover letter or a letter of transmittal with its proposal – particularly when seeking a grant from a private foundation. Such a letter introduces the proposal to a potential funder. It creates a first impression among those who receive and process proposals and sometimes also among those who read and rank them.

 

Tips

 

In preparing a compelling and cogent cover letter, be sure to:

  1. Use organizational letterhead
  2. Use the grant maker’s correct and complete address
  3. Address it to a specific person
  4. Insert a reference line before a salutation line
  5. Keep the letter short (one page only)
  6. Use standard margins and a standard 12-point font
  7. Use left-justified text – not center-justified text
  8. Send it from the applicant’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  9. Send it signed by a human hand and in blue ink, when possible
  10. Include prepared by and enclosure lines below the signature
  11. Proofread it to ensure that it is error-free

 

In developing the cover letter, use up to four paragraphs to:

  1. Open by describing the organization, community, and target population
  2. Describe the undertaking and two of its major selling points
  3. Explain the reasons for applying for a grant
  4. Close with a thank-you and contact information

 

In all cases, always follow each specific grant maker’s instructions for a cover letter. If a grant maker does not want to get one, then do not send one. Government grant makers are far less apt to expect, require, or accept a cover letter than are private grant makers.

 

 

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