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This post updates data posted early in 2013. It discusses grant-writing consultants’ proposal revision, review, and critique fees. It is part of an ongoing series. Other updated posts will discuss hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), prospect research fees, retainer fees, grant writing workshop fees, and other similar topics.

 

Proposal Reviews and Revisions:

At times, potential clients 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 proposals and may suggest how to improve them. Alternatively, they may contract both to provide a critique and to revise or rewrite a proposal 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. Some consultants accept such assignments on a case-by-case basis and do not publish specialized rate schedules for such services.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, fixed rates for review and revision of grant proposals, as quoted on consultants’ websites, may range from $500 to $2,000 per proposal reviewed. In 2014, the most costly consultants charge a minimum of $2,000 (10 hours at $200 per hour) for each proposal they critique. Such rates, if specified, often approach what the same consultants will charge per hour for developing a brand new proposal from start to finish.

 

Retainers Minimum Maximum
Consultant/Firm A $500 $1,000
Consultant/Firm B $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm C $600 $1,500
Consultant/Firm D $750 $1,200
Consultant/Firm E $520 Unstated
Consultant/Firm F $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm G $1,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm H $1,250 Unstated
Consultant/Firm I $1,500 Unstated
Consultant/Firm J $1,750 Unstated
Consultant/Firm K $2,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm L $40/hour $50/hour
Consultant/Firm M $45/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm N $90/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm O $100/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm P $100/hour Unstated

 

This post discusses grant-writing consultants’ proposal revision, review, and critique fees. It is part of an ongoing series. Earlier posts discussed hourly rates and flat rates (also called per-proposal rates or per-project rates), prospect research fees, and retainer fees. Later posts will explore grant writing workshop fees and other similar topics.

 

Proposal Reviews and Revisions:

At times, potential clients 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 proposals and may suggest how to improve them. Alternatively, they may contract both to provide a critique and to revise or rewrite a proposal 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. Some consultants accept such 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, fixed rates for review and revision, as quoted on consultants’ websites, may range from $150 to $2,000 per proposal reviewed. The most costly consultants charge a minimum of $2,000 (10 hours at $200 per hour) for each proposal they critique.  Such rates, if specified, often approach what the same consultants will charge per hour for developing a brand new proposal from start to finish.

 

Retainers Minimum Maximum
Consultant/Firm A $150 $300
Consultant/Firm B $480 $1,200
Consultant/Firm C $500 $1,500
Consultant/Firm D $1,750 Unstated
Consultant/Firm E $2,000 Unstated
Consultant/Firm F $60/hour Unstated
Consultant/Firm G $125/hour Unstated

 

Many grant seekers get a proposal rejected now and then. Most of them try to learn from their grant rejections and to use them as tools for improving future results.

 

This post discusses several ways that applicants for competitively awarded state and federal grants may use past denials of funding to ensure more success in winning future awards. Later posts will explore other more specific aspects of technical reviews.

 

Technical Review Forms:

State and federal grants commonly provide to all applicants the results of technical reviews. No matter the outcome, smart grant seekers will study the program review panelists’ technical review forms (TRFs) whenever they are available. Often the TRFs will note in detail a proposal’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide section sub-scores. In furnishing such forms to applicants, many government agencies may prove to be much more proactive than they used to be. Applicants often no longer need to request them, let alone submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for them.

 

In studying the TRFs, grant seekers may look for aspects and issues of clarity and content — both good and bad — which recur among the panelists’ comments. They may also look for hot buttons or scoring triggers in the review forms. These buttons or triggers are the repeatedly noted aspects of a proposal that most pleased reviewers or most distressed them.

 

Reviewers’ Hot Buttons:

Not only do grant programs have many hot buttons, so do technical reviewers. As examples: reviewers may want to see citations of data sources, not just the data; they may want to see data on the specific population to be served, not other data (e.g., census) that may or may not apply to it. Reviewers may want to see evidence of equal employment opportunity in hiring practices, not just general assurances that an applicant is an equal employment opportunity (EEO) employer; and they may want to see evidence of the reliability and validity of proposed evaluation instruments, not merely mention of some broad category of such instruments (e.g., surveys) in describing an evaluation plan.

 

Anticipating Reviewers’ Reactions:

By studying reviewers’ comments on TRFs — for both funded and rejected proposals — grant seekers can improve their ability to anticipate potential reviewer reactions to a proposal’s content, and they can use those insights to reduce or avoid provoking adverse reviewer reactions. Naturally, neither intra-rater reliability nor inter-rater reliability is perfectly consistent within or among proposal reviewers; yet, if a grant seeker studies its TRFs closely enough it can begin to discern which writing behaviors tend to trigger which reviewer responses, and then proceed accordingly.

It’s far too late to fix defects in a grant proposal when it must be sent on its way before the end of the day. The best time to review it for quality, completeness, and internal consistency is well before its submission deadline. At least a week ahead of deadline is a reasonable target.

 

The more eyes that see a proposal, the stronger it should become. The best eyes are those of educated and articulate persons who were not directly involved in creating it. Lack of prior involvement enhances the objectivity of their critiques. Ideally, they will see the entire proposal, but almost any objective review is useful.

 

In order to minimize half-point item ratings, the entire checklist’s maximum score is 200 points. This post covers several checklist sections; later posts will cover others.

 

Maximum sub-scores vary by section, as noted. For each item, divide the subsection’s maximum sub-score by the 5 or 10 items in the proposal subsection.

 

CONTINUATION PLAN

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
Presents a plan to obtain further funding
Identifies potential and secured sources of future funding
Minimizes reliance on future grant support
Is supported with letters of commitment
Letters of commitment state specific commitment amounts
Total: Maximum is 10 points.

 

BUDGET and BUDGET NARRATIVE

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
Is consistent with the proposal narrative
Provides sufficient detail for every line item
Limits line items to within the proposed budget period
Justifies and clearly explains all cost items
Identifies sources of funding for all line items
Breaks out fringe benefits from salaries
Pay rates are consistent with staff roles and qualifications
Includes indirect charges when appropriate
Separates non-personnel cost items from personnel items
Budget clearly relates to project’s proposed work plan
Total: Maximum is 30 points.

 

RATING A PROPOSAL’S READINESS FOR SUBMISSION:

CONTINUATION PLAN                

Reviewer:                  Maximum: 10

BUDGET and BUDGET NARRATIVE                                                     

Reviewer:                   Maximum: 30

Total Possible Score:  40

Total Review Score:

 

It’s far too late to fix defects in a grant proposal when it must be sent on its way before the end of the day. The best time to review it for quality, completeness, and internal consistency is well before its submission deadline. At least a week ahead of deadline is a reasonable target.

 

The more eyes that see a proposal, the stronger it should become. The best eyes are those of educated and articulate persons who were not directly involved in creating it. Lack of prior involvement enhances the objectivity of their critiques. Ideally, they will see the entire proposal, but almost any objective review is useful.

 

In order to minimize half-point item ratings, the entire checklist’s maximum score is 200 points. This post covers several checklist sections; later posts will cover others.

 

Maximum sub-scores vary by section, as noted. For each item, divide the subsection’s maximum sub-score by the 5 or 10 items in the proposal subsection.

 

GOALS and OBJECTIVES

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
States clear, concise, logical goals
Goals are consistent with applicant’s mission and vision
States clear and measurable objectives
Objectives relate clearly to stated goals
Objectives relate clearly to defined problem/needs
Objectives focus on outcomes – not outputs
Who is to benefit is clearly defined
Timeline is explicit, feasible, and realistic
Organization has capacity to achieve its objectives
Likely impacts are identified
Total: Maximum is 40 points.

 

WORK PLAN or PROGRAM DESIGN

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
Strategies well-selected given stated needs and objectives
Proposed activities are clear and appropriate
States rationale for selecting key activities
Describes sequences and coordination of activities
Identifies qualifications of who will staff the project
Links staff qualifications to proposed key activities
States how participants will be recruited or selected
States when activities will start and end
Describes resources to be used for key activities
Demonstrates enough resources will be available for activities
Total: Maximum is 40 points.

 

EVALUATION PLAN

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
Plans to evaluate every project objective
Plans to adjust strategies as needed during project
Plans to monitor progress in achieving objectives
States who will monitor and evaluate project
Qualifications of evaluator are appropriate
States performance criteria for every objective
Describes data collection procedures and timeline
Describes data analysis procedures and timeline
Presents technical merits of evaluation instruments
Describes evaluation report contents and timeline
Total: Maximum is 30 points.

 

RATING A PROPOSAL’S READINESS FOR SUBMISSION:

GOALS and OBJECTIVES                

Reviewer:                  Maximum: 40

WORK PLAN or PROGRAM DESIGN                                                   

Reviewer:                   Maximum: 40

EVALUATION PLAN    

Reviewer:                   Maximum: 30

Total Possible Score:  110

Total Review Score:

It’s far too late to fix defects in a grant proposal when it must be sent on its way before the end of the day. The best time to review it for quality, completeness, and internal consistency is well before its submission deadline. At least a week ahead of deadline is a reasonable target.

 

The more eyes that see a proposal, the stronger it should become. The best eyes are those of educated and articulate persons who were not directly involved in creating it. Lack of prior involvement enhances the objectivity of their critiques. Ideally, they will see the entire proposal, but almost any objective review is useful.

 

In order to minimize half-point item ratings, the entire checklist’s maximum score is 200 points. This post covers several checklist sections; later posts will cover others.

 

Maximum sub-scores vary by section, as noted. For each item, divide the subsection’s maximum sub-score by the 5 or 10 items in the proposal subsection.

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY or ABSTRACT

YES/NO

SCORE

PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
    Complies with funder’s instructions
    Clearly identifies the applicant
    States requested grant award amount
    Helps to establish applicant’s credibility
    Clearly defines the problem
    Identifies key strategies to solve problem
    States focuses of proposed objectives
    Is clear and concise
    Avoids jargon
    Builds interest in reading further
Total:   Maximum is 10 points.

 

INTRODUCTION

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
    States the applicant’s vision and mission
    Describes applicant’s goals and objectives
    Provides program background and context
    Provides evidence of applicant’s capacity
    Presents data to support capacity
    Describes applicant’s accomplishments
    Relates clearly to identified problem or needs
    Is clear and concise
    Avoids jargon
    Builds interest in reading further
Total:   Maximum is 10 points.

 

NEEDS ASSESSMENT or PROBLEM STATEMENT

YES/NO SCORE PROPOSAL ATTRIBUTE
    States where and who is to be served
    Appears realistic within the time available
    Clearly relates to funder’s definition of problem/needs
    Shows evidence of intended beneficiaries’ input
    Avoids circular reasoning in defining problems/needs
    Provides appropriate data to substantiate need
    Links problem/needs to research literature
    Links needed resources to existing resources
    Presents persuasive rationale based on substantiated needs
    Builds interest in reading further
Total:   Maximum is 30 points.

 

RATING A PROPOSAL’S READINESS FOR SUBMISSION:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY/ABSTRACT                

Reviewer:                  Maximum: 10

INTRODUCTION                                                   

Reviewer:                   Maximum: 10

NEEDS ASSESSMENT/PROBLEM STATEMENT    

Reviewer:                   Maximum: 30

Total Possible Score:  50

Total Review Score:

 

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