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Unit1.1 Introduction Welcome to my online instruction. My name is Rakesh Sharma, and I'm very excited about teaching my consulting business start-up course online. I've been teaching grant writing classes and workshops for close to 20 years. I also write books on grant-related topics. I've always felt that it's important to teach and reach out to others interested in learning more about the growing field of grant writing. Do you love to write? Do you love to set goals, achieve them, and then promptly look for another challenge? If you answered yes to these questions, then you have some of the same traits I do. If you also have some experience writing grant proposals or have completed a grant writing course, I think you'll succeed in my course—and as a grant writing consultant. In my course, I'll teach you how to become a successful, professional grant writing consultant. By the time you complete my course, you'll understand the role of a grant writing consultant and know how to set up a low-cost, efficient home office; how to weigh the pros and cons of specializing in an area of grant writing; how to market your skills, find clients, and set fees; and how to make sure you have constant cash flow. The objective of Lesson 1 is to help you learn about your new career as a grant writing consultant. I'll help you understand how to use your grant writing skills in the nonprofit sector and in the for-profit sector. Step-by-step, I'll discuss what you must consider as you develop your services and set business goals. Again, I offer you a warm welcome to my course and to Lesson 1. You and I are going to take an exciting journey together. And guess what? Along the way, you'll gain the confidence and knowledge needed to become a successful grant writing consultant! 1. Which of the following tasks falls under the role of a grant writing consultant? Writing a loan application. Writing bid specifications. Researching information on financial aid and scholarships for college students. Researching and writing grant proposals. 2. Which of the following is true about grants consulting? It's an employer/employee relationship. Commercial office space is a must for professional appearances. It's a rapidly expanding business area. Calling yourself a fundraiser is acceptable. 3. Which of the following applies to a sole proprietorship? Not easy to form. Proprietor controls profits. Complex tax reporting. Limited liability. 4. Which of the following applies to a corporation? Better chance of obtaining long-term financing. Corporate structure makes the business look small. Not a good option for small business owners. Owners are personally responsible for the corporation.
5. Which of the following is a potential client for your grants consulting services? An individual. A unit of government. Unincorporated church. A bank.
Unit1.2 Understanding Your New Role and Business Start-up Choices
Step 1: Understanding Your Role Understanding your new role is the first step to succeeding in your new consulting business. A consultant is someone who gives personal or expert advice. A grant writer is someone who writes proposals and grant applications requesting support from a private or public organization. Therefore, a grant writing consultant is an expert in the areas of grant seeking (finding funding opportunities) and grant writing (writing what the funding source wants to see and writing it better than anyone else trying to tap into the same pot of money). Besides financial support, as a grants consultant, you may also obtain in-kind (goods or services) support for clients. Grant consultants often hold many titles in their professional life—from project specialist to development officer—prior to setting up business. They may have had a job whose description
didn't list grants-related duties, yet part of their duties included writing proposals or responding to bid opportunities (also called RFPs, or Request For Proposals). Whether they learned to write grant proposals through formal training or on their own through trial and error, it's likely they have enough knowledge of the grant seeking process to call themselves experts in the field. You, too, can probably call yourself an expert if your career has taken a similar path. The key word here is expert. You become an expert by doing something over and over until you perfect the process to the point that it's almost a given that you'll achieve the desired result. When you're a grant writing expert, you can get a funding source to award a grant for the project or program that you've proposed (grant proposal) on behalf of your client.
Step 2: Know Technical Terms Knowing the technical terms in this specialty field is the second step to succeeding in your new consulting business. In our field (mine and now yours), technical terms are often exchanged for one another. What do I mean? For instance, grant applications are also called grant proposals, or just grants for short. Grant makers are organizations that make grant awards. Also referred to as funding sources, grant makers include foundations, corporations, and government agencies (local, regional, state, and federal). Grantees (those agencies or individuals receiving a grant award) are also referred to as grant applicants. Go to the Supplementary Materials section to see a list of Web sites to help you brush up on your grantology (study of technical terms used in our field).
Step 3: Professional Knowledge Recognizing and using your professional knowledge is the third step to succeeding in your new consulting business. Do you know how to search for funding sources? Do you know how to research and write a complete grant proposal or grant application, from cover letter and forms to the attachments? If you do know how to do these things, then you possess the knowledge to become a successful grant writing consultant. I define successful as obtaining grant proposals funded for clients and being paid well for your services.
Work for Yourself Now that you're feeling like an expert, it's time to think about moving beyond working 9:00 to 5:00 for your employer to working for yourself. You're not a grant writing consultant unless you have clients and work independently. Although you may write grants for your employer, you're not a grants consultant; you're whatever your employer chooses to call you on your job description, and you're not paid or treated like a consultant. A true grant writing consultant is a third party expert brought in from the outside to help those on the inside get better at successfully capturing grant funding—the first time around. Consultants work in their own offices (whether home-based or storefront) and set their own fees and work schedules. Consultants have contractual agreements with their clients. They do not punch a time clock or report for work at an employer's office every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or whenever the client fancies.
Explain What You Do
Knowing how to explain what you do clearly can help others, including clients, understand what you do as a grant writing consultant. You are a writer or a technical writer, plain and simple. While some general consultants, because of their area of practice, have to be licensed by state or federal regulatory agencies, grant writing consultants are not subject to this type of rigorous and costly licensing—that is, unless you make the grave mistake of calling yourself a fundraiser. Fundraising is a whole different field of complexities. Although you will do many types of tasks in your grant writing consultancy, always refer to yourself as a writer. Compare what a grant writer does to any other types of writers. Does a software writer need a license? No. Does a book writer need special certifications? No. Does a resume writer need a home business license? No. Does a newspaper column writer need to know something about what they are writing about? Yes. The point that I'm making is that a grant writer is one of the occupational divisions of general writing. Of course, what you do is specialized, but it's quiet (reading and typing on a keyboard) and it can be done without disrupting our neighborhood. So, when others tell you that you can't work at home without a license, use my explanation of being a writer and working at home.
Home Office, Offsite Mail, Accountant You'll likely start out with a home office as you begin writing for a living. For professional and safety reasons, you can arrange to meet your clients at their office or in a public place that's convenient for both of you. Choose restaurants during off-peak hours or hotel lobbies with lots of nooks and crannies for privacy. Because of the nature of this business, you may never meet your clients face-to-face, instead using phone, fax, e-mail, and express mail services to discuss and exchange project information with clients. As soon as you know that you're going to toss your hat into the consulting ring, get an off-site business mailbox (especially if you're starting out from home). Request that all deliveries, business mail, subscriptions, and client drop-offs be routed there. Do not give your neighbors something to complain about. Meet with an accountant or tax adviser to decide how to structure your new grant writing consulting business. Whether you decide to work alone or hire staff, there are three possible ways to set up your business. You can choose to be a sole proprietor, enter into a partnership, or set up a corporation. Each type of business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Sole Proprietor A sole proprietorship is the simplest way to set up your business. As a sole proprietor, you are responsible for all aspects of your business's operation. You provide the money to start your business; assume all of the risks, including debts and obligations; accept all profits and losses; and pay all taxes. You are considered self-employed by taxing agencies. Advantages to being a sole proprietor include: low start-up costs; lots of freedom from local, state, and federal regulations; and most importantly, you are in control of all decision making. Oh, one more thing: You also get to keep all of the profits from your consulting services. There are two disadvantages to being a sole proprietor. First, you have unlimited liability and your client can sue you for everything you own, both personal and business assets. Second, if you decide that you want to apply for a small business loan to purchase office equipment, it will be more difficult for you to prove the value of your business.
Partnership You may want to consider starting your grant consulting business with another grant writing colleague. There are two types of partnerships: general and limited. In a general partnership, two or more owners share the management of the business, and each is personally liable for all the debts and obligations of the business. In a limited partnership, your partners that bring only money (capital) to the new business venture aren't involved in managing the business and can't be liable for more than the amount of capital they contributed. In other words, they have limited liability. The partnership business structure also has advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages are: it is easy to form, there are low start-up costs, and there are some tax advantages. Some of the disadvantages are: you have to share the decision making with others; it is hard to find the perfect partner; and when conflict arises, the entire business is impacted.
Corporation A corporation is a legal entity which is separate and distinct from its shareholders. A creditor has no rights to the personal assets of shareholders when making a claim against the assets of the corporation. Advantages to being incorporated range from tax advantages to business continuation in your absence or departure. The downside to being incorporated is that there are lots of regulations. It is also very expensive to file for incorporation, and extensive record keeping is necessary. To learn more about all of the business structures, visit some of the Web sites I listed in the Supplementary Materials section for Lesson 1.
Unit1.3 Decide What Services You Will Offer When you are starting your grant writing consulting business, you need to offer a variety of grants-related services. Why? To guarantee some type of cash flow coming in every month. Make a list of all possible services that you will offer and monitor each service's revenue-producing potential. There are several consulting services you can choose from to create your own menu of services. Some of these services will bring in constant consulting work for you, while others will only bring in intermittent income. The key here is to find a balance to smooth out the peaks and valleys of cash flow. In the rest of this chapter, I discuss possible service areas for your new consulting business.
Pre-Proposal Writing Services Needs Assessment:
A needs assessment is a data collection tool that identifies service gaps throughout the client's agency. Based on the findings of this assessment, you can direct your client to seek grants to fill the service gaps. Of course, you'll be ready and able to write any needed grant proposals. Program Development Assistance: As a grants consultant, it's your job to make your client look good in the grant proposal. You can only accomplish this feat by helping them develop better services, more services, and more comprehensive programs. In other words, helping them close service gaps. Funding Searches: A funding search is when you research the Internet and print publications to identify funding sources for a grant proposal. This service is cost-effective and will impress your new clients. You'll be able to provide a new client with 5 to 20 grant funding options for a single program or project.
Proposal Writing Services Nonprofit Letters of Inquiry: Many foundation and corporate funding sources want a one- to three-page letter of inquiry before they will invite your client to submit a full grant proposal. Nonprofit Corporate Letter Requests: This fast and easy three-page money or gift item request to a business or corporate giving entity produces quick results for any size client. While the initial research (compiling a list of 100 or more letter recipients) can be time-consuming, it's a great start-up service that's also satisfying. Nonprofit Grant Proposals: The demand for grant writing services is high because the revenue for most nonprofit organizations comes from grant awards. It's not uncommon for a nonprofit to need extra help to write and submit multiple grant proposals each month. Proposal Critique and Review: You can offer this service to nonprofit agencies that prefer to write their own grant proposals. Sometimes they are unsure if they followed the technical directions correctly or if they wrote a clear, easy-to-understand proposal. You can step in and offer to provide proposal critique and review services. For-Profit RFP (Request For Proposal) Responses: I talk a lot about marketing your services to nonprofit agencies. However, there's a demand for grant writing consultants in the for-profit sector, too. The same writing sections you find in foundation or government grant applications are found in the business sector's RFPs. Only a small number of grant writing consultants focus their marketing efforts on the for-profit sector. However, there is more money to be made there. Why? Businesses make money and expect to pay top dollar for quality services.
Other Types of Grants-Related Services None of the services that I outlined for you may be included in a grant proposal's budget. However, some grant consulting services are considered an allowable cost and legally may be written into a proposal budget. These include: Grant Management: When a nonprofit agency receives a grant, the staff is often overwhelmed with the amount of reporting the grantor requires. They are ready, early in the grant award process, to find a consultant to take over the paperwork headaches. Monitoring and Evaluation: Once a grant award has been made, the grantee may need your services to develop program and process evaluation tools. Often, because you've developed the actual evaluation plan for the grant proposal, you're the one most knowledgeable about how to implement it throughout the course of grant funding. Sage Publications has published several good program evaluation books that have helped me develop skills in this area. Other Fee-for-Service Areas: As a grant writing consultant, you may provide other grant-related services. You can write curriculum and develop a series of grant writing workshops. Workshops pay well and introduce you to potential clients. You can travel all over the world to present at conferences or provide local day-long grant writing training. Consider putting all of your experience to date as a grant writer into how-to books for others struggling to learn about the grants consulting field. Also, take a look at teaching opportunities in your local community. As a grant writing consultant, you must look daily for contracting opportunities. A successful businessperson looks for opportunity at every turn in the road, rather than waiting for opportunity to find them.
Unit 1.4 Understand Who Needs Your Services Work won't flow to you just because you've decided to make your living as a grant writing consultant. You have to create the flow of work by following up on all possible consulting opportunities. I want you to start thinking about what your new business can be and what you need to do to excel and survive in this field. If you are a veteran grant writer, you are probably used to working only in the nonprofit sector. If you are new to the grant writing field, you may have been told that only nonprofits need your services. The emphasis on this sector is because 90 percent of all grant awards are to nonprofit agencies, where there's a greater demand for the services of a grant writing consultant. While the nonprofit sector generally uses grant writing consultants more, the for-profit or business sector also has a place for us. You can make good money by working in and for both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Did you ever think of a government agency as a nonprofit? Probably not, because it's hard to compare a city, county, or state government unit to your local food bank or substance abuse prevention agency. However, government agencies are nonprofits full of needs—the kinds of
needs that a grant writing consultant can fill. As you plan the start-up of your new business, think about and write down potential clients in need of your grant writing services. Don't miss new client opportunities by skipping units of municipal government.
Create an Opportunity Here's an example of a way to create an opportunity for a new nonprofit client to sign on with your company:
Government Grant Writing A small town or city (population under 100,000) has multi-family public housing units. The municipality is in the process of repainting and doing other renovation work on the buildings, but the mayor openly states in a newspaper interview that the city doesn't have the money for landscaping at the housing complexes. This is an opportunity for you to practice your new skills as a grant writing consultant. A telephone call to the mayor or city manager's office plants the first thoughts about working with an outside consultant to secure grants for landscaping materials. You can propose to conduct a funding search to find foundations and corporations that have awarded grants for other landscaping or public housing projects in your state, county, or city. You can also propose to write grant proposals once you have identified several funding sources. The key to working full time in the field of grants consulting is to see an opportunity in every scrap of news. In smaller cities and towns, resources are too scarce for a unit of municipal government to have their own internal grant writers for every city department. At most, there may be one person working on formula grants from the state or on federal community development block grant applications. However, most of the time this grant writer is really a city department head or a department employee assigned to numerous other job tasks. I repeatedly hear these individuals say that they can't do it all because they are spread too thin already. They welcome outside help when departmental needs start surfacing outside of their area of expertise. A local unit of government gets the bulk of its money from services and tax revenues, as well as from the state. Most units of municipal government don't even know that they're eligible to apply to a foundation or corporate giving entity for grant funds. That's where consultants come in. Always check the newspaper for consulting leads, diligently reading all articles on city or county government. Doing this on a regular basis, you can find leads for potential contracted grant consulting work. Although units of government are nonprofit organizations, they fall under a different category of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code. They won't have an IRS 501(c)(3) letter of nonprofit determination. With the exception of units of government, foundations and corporate giving entities expect to see this letter in grant applications for all other nonprofit agencies applying for grant funding.
Religious Grant Writing Churches are another client opportunity often forgotten by grant writing consultants. The IRS does grant churches 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Churches also qualify for grant funding. I suggest you begin consulting with denominations you're familiar with and expand to other denominations as you achieve more success in religious grant seeking.
For-Profit Grant Writing Don't forget about marketing your grant consulting services to for-profits, too. Here's one way to find a new for-profit client to sign on with your company: First, make a list of your areas of expertise, ranging from former employment experiences to grant writing project areas. Second, start reading the legal notices in your local or regional newspaper (usually found near the classified advertisements). Public announcements for RFPs usually appear in the legal notices. RFPs for all types of services will turn up in the daily legal notices. Before long, you'll find proposal writing opportunities in the for-profit sector in familiar industry areas (those on your list of areas of expertise). You can then call businesses that offer the needed services and inform them of the RFP and of your consulting services as well.
Unit 1.5 Summary Today you discovered that your skills as a grant writer qualify you to become a grant writing consultant. You learned that grant writing is a specialized occupation in the writing field and that there is a high demand for grant writing consultants. You learned the role of a grant writing consultant and the many different titles assumed by those in our profession, from project specialist to development officer to grant writer. You learned about the distinction between a grant writer and a fundraiser, and of the legal advantages of calling yourself a grant writer. You reviewed some common business terms and what they mean in the field of grants consulting. You discovered that you could structure your new business as a sole-proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, or corporation. You also learned about different types of grants consulting services you could offer. Finally, you discovered that clients interested in contracting your consulting services may be found in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.
In our next lesson, you'll discover how to kick-start your new consulting business by getting additional grants-related training and reading specialized publications and periodicals. You'll also find out which Internet sites carry research and reference information to help you become a successful grant writing consultant.
Unit 2.1 Getting Started: Grant writing
Introduction I know you're wondering how to get started in the grant writing consulting business. I will show you the resources you'll need to kick-start your new career. I believe that many new businesses fail because they are not aware of the useful tools of the trade. Are you thinking you may not know enough about the grant writing process? Are you overwhelmed by the number of publications on grant writing tips and skills and can't decide which ones will tell you what you need to know clearly and quickly? My objective for Lesson 2 is to help you choose resources so that you can succeed as a grant writing consultant. I'll teach you how to find training to sharpen your skills. I'll also share with you some of the favorite desktop references of grant writing consultants. Finally, I'll go over some Internet resources that are used to research funding sources and track grant giving trends.
Unit 2.2 What you need before hand?
Brush up on Your Writing Skills
You must be able to write for all levels of readers. If your English skills are rusty, then I strongly recommend that you consider taking an English class. You must have a grasp on basic writing skills before you enter the field of technical and proposal writing. You can never learn enough when it comes to writing winning grants. As a new grant writing consultant, you must have the necessary technical and proposal writing skills to accept any type of grant writing project. Many new grant writing consultants fail at their new business because they say yes to a project beyond their ability. While foundation and corporate grant proposals are usually quick and easy projects, writing lengthy technical applications to government agencies can be challenging. However, the most challenging writing projects are the ones that bring in the big bucks. If you take advantage of training opportunities early in your new career, you'll feel confident in saying yes to large-scale technical grant writing projects.
Training with your peers
Numerous options are available for sharpening your grant writing skills. A good way to broaden your knowledge is by learning from others in the field. Around the world, there are nonprofit and for-profit organizations offering grant writing workshops. These workshops range from half-day sessions to full six-month grant writing internships. How can you decide what training is best for you? By making a list of your strengths and weaknesses. When I began writing, I was afraid to take federal grant writing projects. I was overwhelmed when I opened the Federal Register (daily publication with federal agency grant announcements) and read through the grant announcements. I was even more overwhelmed when I received my first 50-plus pages grant application kit in the mail from a federal agency that was awarding grant money. It was then and there that I decided to look for training in writing technical grant applications. When you have the skills to accept all types of grant writing projects, you increase your chances of staying in business. • Local colleges and universities
Colleges and universities often offer classes on grant writing. These courses are taught by grant writing professionals with years of experience gained either through full-time employment with a nonprofit organization and/or as a grant writing consultant. Watch for announcements about grant writing courses in your local newspaper or call the institutions and ask about offerings. • Nonprofit management institutes
Usually found in large cities, nonprofit management institutes, sponsored by a university or foundation, are training programs for nonprofit administrators. You can take advantage of their grant or proposal writing classes without being required to attain full program certification. • Foundation and corporate training opportunities
Other sources for training are foundations or corporate giving programs. Many community foundations offer one-day workshops to local nonprofit organizations that have been unsuccessful in submitting a winning grant proposal. Often these technical assistance workshops are open to the public and are free of charge. Keep in mind that the training content will be tailored to the funder's specific grant application, but you'll still learn some general grant writing pointers by attending the workshop. The larger, top 100 foundations (nationally) frequently advertise and hold technical assistance workshops for potential grant seekers. Corporate funders, such as bank trust departments and utility companies, also offer technical assistance training for potential grant seekers. These sessions are intended to help unsuccessful grant seekers learn how to win a grant award by writing what the funder wants to see in order to make a positive decision. Don't dismiss the value of attending a free technical assistance workshop. Even if you don't have a current client interested in seeking a grant from a funder offering a free workshop, it's still worth your time to sign up and attend. Why? First, you'll get to know the funder's staff firsthand. There's nothing more valuable than establishing a relationship with the people that make funding decisions. Second, you'll learn the
psychology of why and how grants are awarded from an insider's perspective. Finally, and most important to a new grant writing consultant, you'll be sitting in a room full of potential clients. Spending the day with nonprofit administrators and staff will give you insight into their grant writing weaknesses and needs. During break and lunchtime conversations, you can hand out your business card or make appointments with nonprofit staff that you observe as needing your services. There's nothing wrong with learning and marketing at the same time. • Government technical assistance workshops
Many government agencies provide annual technical assistance workshops for specific grant competitions. In order to be notified via e-mail of these workshops, you'll need to contact the individual state or federal funding agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Commerce. These sessions are free and tailored to individual grant making programs. • Peer association training
There are many professional nonprofit associations that offer training workshops for grant writers. Often their entire annual conferences are devoted to professional development training. A registration fee is usually required to attend training sessions (nonmember fees are normally higher than member fees). One professional association founded just for grant writers is the American Association of Grant Professionals. The association's annual conference is considered the premiere event for grant writers and program developers. I attended one of their annual conferences and came away impressed with their code of ethics for members and the dozens of informative sessions to help grant writers improve their skills. At their conference, you have the opportunity to interact and learn from veteran grant writers, grants managers, independent consultants; and specialists from nonprofits, cities, school districts, and elsewhere. Other associations you may want to explore further are the American Fundraising Institute and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. While both focus on traditional fundraising (remember, as a grant writing consultant, you're not a fundraiser), they also offer some grant writing sessions in their training programs. Unit 2.3 Resources • Desktop Reference Resources
A resource library with useful writing references is invaluable to the grant writing consultant. Resources range from general grant writing books to specific writing handbooks. When you work on a project and encounter writing or funding challenges, you'll minimize wasted time with your own desktop reference library. Some of the resources used by grant professionals that I mention here focus on writing techniques, while others cover grants-related topics.
Publications The list is alphabetized, with no one book specifically suggested. They're all very good reference tools.
Demystifying Grant Seeking - This book covers what you really need to do to get grant proposals funded. Evaluator's Handbook - This book provides a step-by-step guide on how to write evaluation plans in grant proposals. Fistfuls of Dollars - This book covers the facts and fantasy about corporate charitable giving. Grant Seeker's Budget Toolkit - This book assists in developing a budget detail and a summary for grant proposal projects; comes with a 3.5 computer disk. Grant Writing For Dummies - This book covers every aspect of the grant seeking and grant writing process. Grant Writing - This book shows you the strategies for developing winning proposals. How Foundations Work - This book tells you what grant seekers need to know about the many faces of foundations. I'll Grant You That - This book offers a step-by-step guide to finding funds, designing winning projects, and writing powerful proposals. Proposal Planning and Writing - This book covers the basics of pre-grant writing planning and provides a grant writing tutorial. The Grantwriter's Internet Companion - This book provides resources for educators and others seeking grants. All of these books, as well as others, are available at online bookstores; local bookstores may be able to order the books not already on their shelves. • Periodicals
There are several newsletters and periodicals that you can subscribe to, either online or through the mail. The ones I recommend here cover different grant seeking and grant making areas. Before you invest any money in these publications, visit the library to review several issues. Foundation News and Commentary - This publication is available online or by mail subscription. It focuses on foundation news, trends, and decision making. It also covers issues impacting nonprofit organizations. Every issue contains sections on boardmanship, legal briefings, jargon watch, technology, and other emerging areas of interest to foundations. Why should you be interested in a publication intended for grant makers? Because this is one of several ways to gain an insider's perspective of how foundations operate and what drives their grant making policies. Philanthropy News Digest - This weekly online publication is one of The Foundation Center's (nonprofit resource organization) many resources for grantseekers. Available by subscription, it provides news on foundation and corporate funders, spotlights a nonprofit organization in each issue, and reviews new grants-related publications. I subscribe to the Philanthropy News Digest for its RFP (Request For Proposal) section covering grant opportunity announcements from foundations and corporations and for its classified ads about jobs available in the nonprofit sector around the country. You can use the classifieds to get leads on potential grant writing consulting opportunities.
The NonProfit Times - This news magazine about the nonprofit sector is available online and by mail subscription. Ads for job openings at nonprofit organizations, including those for grant writers, take up about one-third of the magazine. This publication will help you monitor nonprofit sector trends and decide where you want to target your marketing efforts. • Internet Resources
I use the Internet three to four hours daily to check for grant announcements and for proposal writing support. I think these Web sites are user friendly; that is, they get to the point and are easy to navigate. They can all be easily found using any Internet search engine. I give the URLs (addresses) for some of these Web sites in the Supplementary Materials section in this lesson. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) - This Web site is the bible of federal grant assistance. It identifies which federal agencies give grants, where, and how much. Elements of a Grant Proposal - The Center for Nonprofit Management presents a great outline for writing a winning grant proposal. EPA Grant Writing Tutorial - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an online tutorial developed specifically for their grant application format, which is also a good working guide for any grant writing format. National Network of Grantmakers (NNG) - From this Web site, you can download the NNG Common Grant Application template. The template fits the grant writing requirements of many national foundations. National Science Foundation (NSF) - This excellent Web site provides guidelines on how to apply for NSF grants, among the most difficult federal grants to obtain because of the many technical requirements. Even if you're not applying for NSF funds, you'll pick up tips and writing requirements that will help you polish your federal grant writing skills and expand your client base. Notices of Funding Availability (NOFA) - This U. S. Department of Agriculture Web site contains NOFAs that appear in the Federal Register (printed each business day by the U.S. government), inviting applications for federal grant programs. The site allows you to generate a customized listing of the NOFAs in your area of interest. The DRM WebWatcher: Grants and Grant Writing - Disability Resources, Inc. provides several dozen links from this Web site to grant funding and grant writing resources. The Federal Web Locator - The Center for Information Law and Policy maintains this Web site as the one-stop shopping point for federal government grant-related information on the World Wide Web. Canadian Funding Resources - I have listed the key resources for Canada in the Supplementary Materials Section. When you're getting started as a grant writing consultant, time management is a critical factor to being able to accept multiple deadline projects from your clients. Having easy access to grant funding and grant writing resources in your office gives you the freedom of working any time of day on a deadline writing project. Use print and electronic information sources to keep you writing the right information for the right funder.
Unit2.4 Types of Proposals • Proposal Examples at Your Fingertips
I'm a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel—that is, if you don't know how to do something, find an example. In the case of grant writing, there are several Web sites that contain sample grant proposals. All of the examples on the Internet are well written. I will review a few of the Web sites and their contents (see the Supplementary Materials for some more URLs). Grant writing tutorial U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - The EPA has developed a tutorial for grant seekers that want to win an EPA grant award. The basic tutorial has guidelines and tips that apply to all types of grant writing. You'll find this Web site clear and direct. Some of the links on the EPA homepage are: • • Enhancing a Proposal (tips galore!) Program Specifics (information on three EPA granting areas)
• • • • •
Completing Forms (contains all of the federal grant application forms) Mock Grant Writing Activity (an exercise in electronic submission) Examples of a Real Grant Proposal (there are three) Reference (links to other EPA information) Resources/Contacts (lists federal and state sources of grants)
How will this Web site help you as a grant writing consultant? The EPA Web site is an excellent learning tool for you if you are new to the grant writing field and still feel uncertain about being a grant writing consultant. EPA developed an online tool to give you the basics, including a practice exercise right at your fingertips.
Research grant writing National Institutes of Health (NIH) - The Office of Extramural Research has developed a Web site with grant writing tip sheets. This site is helpful in writing health-related or research-directed grant applications. It's more extensive than the EPA Web site. Some of the links on the NIH homepage are: • • • • • • Quick Guide for the Preparation of Grant Applications How to Write a Research Grant Preparing Grant Applications (extensive sample language) Tips for New NIH Grant Applicants Applying for an NIH Grant A Straightforward Description of What Happens to Your Grant Application After It Is Received for Peer Review
How will this site help you as a grant writing consultant? The NIH Web site takes what could be a difficult process—writing a federal research grant application—and simplifies it in easy-to-follow writing steps.
School proposals SchoolGrants - Designed for K-12 school districts, this Web site has samples of successfully funded grant proposals from school districts across the country. It also lists grant funding opportunities. Some of the links on the SchoolGrants homepage are: • • • Grant Opportunities Grant Writing Tips Sample Proposals (examples and grantee contact information)
Many consultants find that writing grant proposals for K-12 school districts is a great way to get started. First, no matter where you live, there are one or more school districts nearby. Second, school districts are in constant search of a grant writing consultant, either for writing or for training administrators and teachers how to write grant proposals. Carving your consulting niche out in the K-12 education sector can be fulfilling and rewarding.
Grant writing tools
Non-Profit Guides - This Web site shows you grant writing tools used by nonprofit organizations. Some of the links on the Non-Profit Guides homepage are: • • • • • • • • Writing Guide Overview Proposal Summary Proposal Detail Inquiry Letter Cover Letter & Sheet Grant Budget Sample Grant Applications (easy-to-follow generic example) Grantmakers
By looking at examples of grant proposals funded by the private sector and government agencies, you'll gain knowledge that you may lack because of limited experience or background. You'll feel more comfortable accepting a broader range of grant writing contracts knowing what funders expect to see in proposals. But remember, in the field of grants consulting, as in other fields, you'll learn most by doing.
Unit 2.5 Summary Today you discovered that one of the keys to becoming a successful grant writing consultant is to know where to find the resources to help you succeed in your new business. You learned that a grant writing consultant must continuously train and learn in order to stay at the top of the field. You also learned that you must have numerous desktop reference resources to be competitive and to win grant writing contracts. When you receive a telephone call from a prospective client and can give them the answer to a technical question immediately, you'll win their business. Finally, you learned how to use the Internet to find sample grant writing proposals. Using winning formats and approaches shared by successful grant writers can save you time and will allow you to take on multiple projects at the same time. Grant writing consultants are always searching for ways to reduce their labor and increase their efficiency when it comes to writing new types of grant proposals.
In my next lesson, you'll discover how to set up an efficient home office. You'll learn how to choose functional furniture, reliable equipment, and technology tools that fit your budget, from bargain basement to top-of-the-line. Finally, in the next lesson, I'll discuss how to establish a mobile office in addition to a home-based one. 1. Which of the following offers training programs in grant seeking and/or grant writing? Federal Register. National Association of Grant Writing Consultants. The NonProfit Times. Local colleges and universities. 2. Which of the following publications carries daily federal government grant announcements? Catalog of Federal and Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Federal Register. The Grantwriter's Internet Companion. Commerce Business Daily. 3. Which of the following organizations provides an online common grant application template that fits the grant writing requirements of many national foundations? National Science Foundation (NSF). Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA). National Network of Grantmakers (NNG). Regional Association of Grantmakers (RAG). 4. Which of the following Web sites gives you examples of grant applications that have been funded? The Federal Web Locator. Foundation News & Commentary. Notices of Funding Availability (NOFA). SchoolGrants. 5. Which of the following is one of the keys to being a successful grant writing consultant? Learning from experience, not from training. Using outdated funding publications. Knowing where to find the resources to help you succeed. Stop wasting time on the Internet.
Becoming A Grant Writing Consultant: Part 3
INSTRUCTIONS: • • To print this page, wait for the page to fully load. Once the document is ready to print, simply click your browser's File menu and choose Print. To save this page, click your browser's File menu and choose Save As. Select a disk drive and folder to receive the file, and change the name of the file to less03.htm. To view the file while you are offline, just go to the drive and folder you selected when you saved the file and double-click the file named less03.htm. Your browser will start and you will have access to the file.
Unit 3.1 Introduction Now that you've thought about the types of services you'll offer your clients and made a list of the information resources you'll use and buy, it's time to start thinking about how to set up an efficient work area. My objective is to help you plan for your first day as a paid grant writing consultant. In this lesson, I will show you how to turn a living or storage area of your home into productive workspace. I know from experience as a grant writing consultant that it is important to organize an area where you can manage your projects from start to finish. Whether you choose to work at home or to lease commercial office space, you must know how much space and what type of furniture, equipment, and software you need to produce deadlinedriven grant writing projects. I recommend that you set up your office before you accept your first client.
Unit 3.2 Choose the Right Location
Space and Place Requirements As a student, or perhaps as an employee who brings work home, you probably have set up an area that lets you tackle writing projects at home. How many of the questions are true for you? • • • • • Do you have an area of your home set aside for working on your computer? Do you have to clear off your kitchen or dining room table in order to spread out your books? Can you tackle a school or work assignment without displacing things and people? Are you carting a computer disk from home to workplace or school in order to print a document? While your current arrangement may work for smaller writing jobs, will it work for your first paid project as a grant writing consultant?
Now is the time to figure out how to organize a workspace where you can achieve high productivity.
Consider working at home You're probably already debating on whether to work at home or lease commercial office space. Most grant writing consultants work from home. Why? You'll be able to buy more of the things you'll need to get your business going, such as funding information subscriptions, purchasing business cards and marketing materials, and to develop your Web site. If you plan well, your grant writing consulting business can be off and running in the first six months. You may even outgrow your original space at home, but it is probably premature to consider signing a commercial lease in the first year of business. When the economy takes a downturn, your cash flow may follow and decline. Until you have an established client base, and most importantly, need to hire employees to help you, do not even think about looking for commercial office space.
Inventory your space possibilities
Decide if you can get by with a home office by taking an inventory of your living quarters. Do you have a special place that is large enough and private enough to start and complete a grant writing project on time? Do you have a spare or guest bedroom that can be converted into home office space? Do you have unused space in a basement, attic, or garage? The cost of converting unused space into a snug, well-wired office may be less than a year's lease.
Electrical upgrades Is your home ready for three or more new pieces of electrical equipment? If you live in an older home, just plugging in and turning on a computer and a printer at the same time may cause an electrical circuit to shut off. After choosing the place for your home office, call an electrician to come check the safety of the electrical service in the room and to add electrical outlets, if needed. While the electrician is there, you may want him to install adequate overhead lighting, if the room doesn't already have it. A desk lamp won't cast enough light when you need to work in other parts of the room and see what you're working on.
Do you need to remodel? Will you need to remodel your home office so it has commercial office features? Does the space have a telephone outlet in a convenient place for connecting your modem or telephone answering device? Is the space properly ventilated? Is the floor comfortable for long hours of sitting or standing? Is there a door you can close? Does the room need a fresh coat of paint to give you a cheery working environment? These are all questions to explore before moving in, plugging in, and powering up. Take one step at a time. Making your home ready for a home office may take several months of planning and budget watching.
Solitude and privacy A grant writing consultant needs a quiet work area. If you work where other members of your household are cooking or watching television, you may not be able to concentrate. Distractions while writing a grant proposal can cause you to miss a critical technical point in the application guidelines. You also need to select a workspace where you can be productive. Remember to choose an area of your home where you can work long hours without interruptions.
Adequate space for productive project management You'll be more productive and have a better grip on project management in a well-equipped and well-arranged office. When earmarking space in your home for an office, think about all the equipment and furniture you'll need to put in it. How much space will you need for a desk or folding table? Will there be room for sorting and collating multiple copies of a 50-page writing project? Will you have enough desktop and tabletop room for keeping four to six writing projects (a likely month's worth of consulting work) isolated, yet accessible? Where will you keep your reference books?
Where will your computer and printer sit? Your flatbed scanner? Will you have a back-up workstation? Will a desktop copy machine fit? Is there space for a fax machine?
The work environment The setting you work in also contributes to your productivity as a grant writing consultant. How can you arrange or decorate your home office to turn it into a creative work area? What things do you want to have in your office to create a pleasant working environment? I appreciate being able to write with soft music playing in the background. However, when I've been in my office for hours, I also like to turn on the television and listen to news reports.
When to look for traditional office space How will you know when it's time to have an office outside of your home? In every home-based business owner's life, a time will come when the business outgrows its space and place. What are some clues that it's time to move out?
When productivity declines If you live alone, you will be able to work at home longer. Why? You control the level of noise, your privacy, and the hours you will work. If you fall behind on a grant writing project, there is no one except yourself to blame. However, if you live with others (family, partner, etc.), your productivity can decline because of noise and constant interruptions. Other people living in your household will want to see you from time to time. When these distractions and requests for a personal appearance interfere with work patterns and thought processes, it is time to look for out-of-home office space.
Out of work and storage space • There's nowhere to put an extra table or new file cabinet in your office.
When this happens, it's definitely time to move out! • You've used up every inch of storage space at home for business supplies and files.
You can stash files and extra supplies in leased storage space, but it's inconvenient not to have all of your resources within easy reach. When you find yourself spending more time looking for client files than you should, it's time to move out!
Need to hire staff • You have so many clients that you can't do all of the work yourself. You need to hire another grant writer or researcher to help you.
You could hire a virtual assistant or virtual grant writer—a person whom you never meet. However, hiring and supervising a staff in a virtual setting can be a challenge. Sometimes it can
be difficult to convey your writing preferences and clients' wishes from afar. Instead, you want to be in the same office with your new staff and interact daily face-to-face. After all, you are responsible for projects. Hiring a staffer puts additional demands on your home office space and your family. Ten years ago, during a baseball World Series game, my staff was collating different grant proposals in four places. From the picnic table to the master bedroom bed, every room was full of people and projects. My family came home and found no place to sit, eat, or watch the game. I moved into transitional office space two weeks later. When you need to hire staff, it's time to move out! Your staff should not be reporting to your home for work. Rent commercial office space!
Consider transitional office space Consider moving first into affordable transitional office space, such as at a business incubator. Whatever move you make does not have to be the final move; just find a space that fits your needs and budget. As my business grew, I moved from a home office into a classroom in a former school to a suite of offices and finally into my own 3,000 square-foot office building. Some communities have business incubators that offer low-cost office space to new entrepreneurs. Business growth centers, such as an incubator, often have a shared business center (office machines) and shared clerical support services. This type of space is ideal for grant writing consultants just starting out.
Find shared commercial space Many large and small businesses will have sub-lease space available in a suite of commercial offices. You may be able to rent a large conference-room type of office for a fraction of the cost for a stand-alone office. You will benefit from shared utilities and custodial and security services. Before you commit to a shared commercial space, make sure to ask about access to your office when the landlord's offices are closed.
Lease stand-alone office space When you outgrow your home office and find that you are making a profit, you will be tempted to lease or buy a stand-alone building. Before you take this giant step, make sure you stop to consider the following things: • • • • • • Will you be located in a safe area of town? Will you need to have a security system installed? Will you have sufficient parking space? Will the electrical system meet your needs? Will you need additional telephone outlets? Will you be bothered by walk-in information seekers?
Most importantly, will you have to sign a long-term (more than one year) lease? Remember, what appears to be a bargain today may be a profit draining capital expense if business slows down.
Maintain a work space at home Even when you move to an office outside of your home, always maintain a workspace at home. It is always nice to be able to bring work home from the office, close a door, and keep working late at night in the safety of your home. There will also be times during holidays or on weekends when you will be on a grant writing deadline. When this happens, you can continue to work on the project at home, taking small breaks to spend time with family.
Unit 3.3 Choose Furniture The right office furniture can increase your productivity by helping you organize your work so tasks can be performed efficiently. Budget and space considerations are two things to think about before purchasing furniture.
Be practical and budget conscious Don't let your ego put you in debt before you open the doors for business. You aren't the first entrepreneur to want to furnish your office with the very best of everything. However, when you're starting a new business, it's important to use the Golden Rule for Grant Writing Consultants: only spend money on those things that will bring money back to you. Of course, this is my Golden Rule, but it does work in keeping your head out of the clouds. For example, will a large, attractive oak, hand-carved executive desk and armoire bring any money back to you? The desk will only be an asset if you sell it and realize a profit. Your computer, printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine will be used to write grant proposals, produce workshop handouts, conduct funding searches, and compile client requested reports. All of these tasks are billable. When you invest your capital (cash) to purchase office equipment, you'll recapture the cash you've expended because you'll be billing your client when you use it. You could have your office machines set up on a piece of plywood and two sawhorses and still get the job done. If you buy for style, your new furniture may look great on a magazine cover, but will it be functional and support your increasing workload? Probably not. What looks great isn't always the best choice for holding office equipment or for collating multiple pages of a large grant proposal project.
Begin basic and add more later You only need a few essential pieces of furniture when you start your business; you can add more pieces when you have multiple paying clients. I started with a homemade desk, a desk chair, two
folding tables, and one two-drawer file cabinet. I learned along the way that the folding tables were more valuable to me than any other piece of furniture. Why? A folding table can be set up when you need it and taken down when you're finished with a project. A folding table can be stored under a bed, in a closet, or behind a door. Your computer, printer, fax, scanner, reference books, desktop copier, day planner, and everything else you use can fit on a folding table.
Office furniture buying tips Buying new office furniture can be costly. You also have to watch out for poor quality. Some of the new, lightweight modular furniture is not as durable as old-fashioned, long-lasting wood furniture. You can find good new furniture buys at office discount stores. But remember, once you use your new furniture one time, it's classified as used, not new. Consider purchasing used furniture when furnishing your office. Look around the community for secondhand furniture stores and check the classified ads for bargains. And don't forget to surf the Internet to see what bump and scratch finds have been marked down for pennies on the dollar.
Sample basic office setup If your budget can afford a functional desk, then consider buying a modular computer desk. An Lshaped or C-shaped computer desk gives you three work surfaces and can accommodate three to four pieces of equipment. I now use a C-shaped desk. One side of my desk is the work area for current projects. On it, I also keep a sorting file. In the file, I sort projects for the next three months by proposal due date. My computer monitor sits on the main, or front, section of the desk. A convenient slide-out drawer holds my keyboard and mouse. The third side holds the printer, flatbed color scanner, and a telephone. A bonus is the hutch on this side. The hutch holds more metal and plastic file dividers, cubbyholes for supplies, and a suspended cabinet with a door. There's also a two-drawer file cabinet attached to the end corner. My CPU sits on the floor next to the back-up power supply box. In addition to the desk, I have a small folding table that holds my day planner, as well as my stacks of papers for calls to make and on incomplete projects (projects started but not finished because I'm waiting on more information from a client). I take advantage of open space under my desk and folding table. That is where I have a half-dozen plastic file boxes full of teaching materials—all within an arm's reach. Amazingly, even with a desk and folding table, the small bedroom I converted into a home office has space for a two-drawer lateral file cabinet, a notebook computer and portable printer workstation (back-up writing equipment), and an extra desk. The desk fits into a cubbyhole next to the closet and holds the television and fax. The desk is where I do my accounts receivable and accounts payable work. A comfortable, ergonomically correct chair on wheels enables me to roll from work area to work area with ease.
Fig 3.1. Example floor plan for a home office.
Publications to help you set up your home office You can get more ideas on planning your home office from books and magazines. The books I list here are only a few of the publications available. Check your local public library for these and others to help you plan your new home office. Ergonomic Living (Inkeles and Schencke) Home Office Life: Making a Space to Work at Home (Kanarek) Organizing Your Home Office for Success (Kanarek) Home Office Design (Zimmerman). A list of helpful Web sites is in the Supplementary Materials.
Unit 3.4 Work Tools That Boost Productivity In Lesson 2, you learned about the importance of information tools to a grant writing consultant. Those tools are worthless without the work tools to produce your product: grant proposals.
Set Up to Meet Deadlines The ability to work at home and earn money as a grant writing consultant is a great entrepreneurial goal. However, in order to establish a reputation as a reliable and dependable grant writing consultant, you'll have to be able to meet project deadlines. Before accepting a writing project, equip your office with machines to create, print, and transmit to clients (by e-mail or fax) grant proposals. When the deadline's tight, you may not have time to drive to and use a 24-hour commercial office center.
Buying a computer One of the major expenses that a grant writing consultant incurs every two to three years is purchasing a new computer or upgrading their existing computer. Since 1986, I've upgraded six times and replaced five times. Every time, the driving factor was storage capacity and processor speed.
Storage capacity The more software I loaded onto my computer, the slower it reacted to my commands. I eventually learned to not purchase a low-end computer with limited hard drive capacity and low processor speed. Now when I replace my computer, I purchase a loaded system and glide through high-memory software programs with ease.
Scanning and publishing What tasks will you use the computer for? For example, will you need to scan forms from grant applications so you can type, edit, and print them using your computer? If so, you'll need a scanner and OCR (optical character recognition) software. Are you going to write a grant funding newsletter that has columns, different headers, and graphics? If so, you'll need publishing software.
Graphic arts Do you like using a lot of clipart and pictures in your grant proposals? If so, you'll need the hard drive capacity to load thousands of graphics. Are you going to be using photographs provided by clients to insert into the grant proposals? If so, you'll need a photograph management software program.
Accounting Are you planning to create grant proposal budgets in a software program that can calculate formulas? If so, you'll need spreadsheet software.
Ports for peripheral equipment If you're purchasing your computer directly from the manufacturer (having it built to your specifications), do you want an Ethernet networking card installed? How many USB (universal serial bus) ports will you need to plug and play other office equipment? (Plug means you fasten a connector cable between the device and computer; play means the devices communicate immediately without restarting the computer.) Scanners, printers, and digital cameras can all be connected using USB ports. Ports can be built into the front or back of the CPU (central processing unit).
File storage options Internal: I'm finally catching up with technology and have purchased a one-touch back up drive for my main "every day" home office computer. I think you'll like the option of scheduling a daily automatic backup for all of your programs and files. Prices are affordable and it's insurance for lost client files. External: I'm a just-in-case person. Last year, I subscribed to an online file folder storage service. Once a week, I upload all client and business document files to a remote server. When I'm traveling, I can easily access the lastest copy of my most current documents and projects. You'll have multiple options for the amount of online storage you can purchase.
USB flash drives
A grant writing consultant can never have enough USB flash drives. They're inexpensive and easy to transport. Consider purchasing one of these easy to use portable drives for each client. They can be purchased in varying memory sizes and easily labeled with a small stick-on mailing label if you end up with multiple drives.
Space-saving equipment As a grant writer, you will never have enough desktop space to manage projects. If you have limited space on your computer desk and a healthy budget, then you'll want to look into purchasing space-saving office equipment.
Monitors Consider a flat screen, LCD computer monitor. This type of monitor is not as deep as a standard full-size monitor, so it takes up less room, although it is more costly. Another way to free up space on your computer desk is to mount the speakers on a wall or put them on shelves; that is, if they're not built into your monitor.
All-in-one machines Instead of buying a printer, scanner, fax, and copier, consider purchasing an all-in-one machine. All-in-one machines are reasonably priced and do all those functions. They take up just one space and use one cartridge. However, if your all-in-one machine malfunctions, you've lost the equivalent of four office machines. I've owned several all-in-ones, but eventually moved back to separate machines, one for each function. Space and budget considerations will help you decide which option is best for your home office setup.
Printers and copiers If you decide to buy a stand-alone printer instead of an all-in-one machine, your choices include inkjet and laser printers. Inkjet printers spray ink onto paper to print text and images, while laser printers use an electrostatic process similar to that used in copiers to print onto paper. Both types of printers use cartridges. At one time, laser printers produced better quality printouts. However, today's inkjet printers produce comparable quality. Compare sample printouts from various printers before buying a machine. As a grant writing consultant, you will need to copy grant proposals for your files, clients, and funders. When you first start your business, it may make sense to use a local copy service. However, once you have a large client base (producing multiple projects each month for five to ten clients), consider purchasing a desktop copier. An inkjet color copier can save you bundles of money in copying costs. The copies are clear and the machine takes up less space on a desk than old black and white copy machines.
Telephone service Phone service is essential to your new consulting business. Without it, how will you find customers and discuss projects with them? To keep your business life separate from your
personal life, it's best to have a separate telephone line installed for your home business. You may want to have two phone lines installed: one for voice calls; the other for faxes and modem calls. You can either subscribe to your local telephone company's voice mail service or connect an answering machine to your voice line to record messages while you're away from your desk. Before buying new equipment and services, determine whether you can use what you already have for business purposes. Maybe you can use your cellular phone for a while. Also consider what can you can afford.
Speedy Internet connections As you learned in previous lessons, the Internet provides easy access to vital information resources. Using a telephone line to connect to the Internet works, but other types of connections are faster.
ISDN Inquire about having an ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) telephone line installed. This type of line is more expensive, but computer transmissions are twice as fast as using a 56K modem. The ISDN line can carry voice, data, and graphic images on one telephone wire.
ADSL Does your neighborhood have ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) service yet? ADSL uses a telephone line to provide fast, continuously available, always-on Internet connection and doesn't tie up the phone line for voice transmission. ADSL is about the same speed as cable modem.
Cable modem Have you considered a cable modem connection? Cable modems are devices that allow highspeed access to the Internet via a cable television network. While similar in some respects to a traditional analog modem (the standard modem built into computers), a cable modem is significantly more powerful, capable of delivering data approximately 500 times faster.
Mobile office setup Not all of your clients will agree to work with you from a distance. Some clients will insist that you travel to their offices to work with their grant writing team members. When you start to visit your out-of-state clients to conduct grant writing workshops away from home, you'll need some mobile office equipment. A notebook computer and portable printer will enable you to be productive wherever you are when you travel. Office supply stores offer various types of rolling computer cases and backpacks that make toting equipment simple. With a mobile office, you'll meet your grant proposal deadlines with ease because you'll be able to work in an airport, conference room, hotel room or lobby, or elsewhere. I think the slogan here is, Have Computer, Will Travel, Will Invoice!
Unit 3.5 Summary Today you learned what to consider when setting up an efficient work area. You learned that setting up your office space is more than just buying for aesthetic appeal; it's about buying for productivity. You learned to weigh the factors for working at home against those for leasing commercial office space. You also learned how to inventory your home's space, facilities, and quiet areas in order to locate your home office in an area conducive to writing grant proposals. You reviewed the ins and outs of grant proposal project management productivity, including preparing for furniture, equipment, and software purchases. You also learned what questions to ask about computer hardware specifications, file storage options, and peripheral equipment when shopping for your new office. You discovered that space considerations and logistical setup can boost your productivity and help you increase your client base. In our next lesson, you'll discover how to match your grant writing skills and background to the types of clients you target for your consulting services. You'll also find out that no matter what your background is, there's a place for you in the field of grants consulting.
Supplementary Material Business Know-How http://www.businessknowhow.com/homeoffice/sephomeoff.htm This site has a great article entitled, How Do You Separate the Home from the Office?
BusinessTown.com http://www.businesstown.com When you open this site, click on the Home Business link in the right-hand column. The link will lead you to several pages of information on starting a home-based business. This same Web page has a link to Office Equipment, where you'll find The Lowdown on Office Equipment. Home Office Life http://www.homeofficelife.com When you log on to this site, click the product link at the top. The link will lead you to a complete listing of home office resource books. There's a one-paragraph description of each publication. PDF Converter Software http://www.grants.gov/assets/PDFConversion.pdf The U.S. Government has created a PDF information file on where to access PDF converter software. This type of software allows you to open PDF files in word processing programs, type in your information, and save as a word processing file.
FAQs Q: Before I buy my first computer, what questions should I ask myself in order to assess my computer needs? A: You're smart not to rush out and buy a computer without first determining how you specifically intend to use it to aid your grant writing consulting business. The main question to ask yourself is: "Which tasks will a computer help me with?" What types of activities do you plan to use your computer for? Will you need scanning capability for grant application forms? Will you need to crop or touch up photographs for inclusion in grant proposals? Will you be doing your own accounting? If you're planning to load a lot of software programs onto your computer, you'll need to buy a computer with sufficient hard drive and memory capacity. The more memory you add, the more this critical purchase will cost. Q: I'm setting up a fully equipped office in my home so it'll be ready when I leave my job and start consulting by the end of this year. In Lesson 3, you mentioned also setting up a mobile office. Is this expense necessary when I'll already have everything I need in my home office? A: If you plan to conduct grant writing workshops, then you'll need a mobile office (at least a notebook computer). Paying workshop participants expect a state-of-the-art presentation from an expert in the field of grant writing. While you can design a great slide show presentation on your home office computer, how will you present the slide show without a notebook computer? There are also times when you'll be working on a grant proposal that's on deadline when you're away from your desk. Having a mobile office allows you to go on vacation with your family, travel to other commitments, or even sit outside on your patio and take in the sunset and still keep working. A notebook computer also provides a measure of insurance. Provided your office and
notebook computers have the same software and the same types of drives (e.g., a diskette drive), and you're good about backing up files onto portable media, you won't have to worry so much about losing records should one of your computers crash.
Assignment Your assignment for Lesson 3 is to start making a list of everything you need to do to set up a functional and productive workspace in your home. Visit the Web sites listed in the Supplementary Material section. Conduct a search (try using http://www.google.com) to find local resources to help you make good purchasing decisions for all of your home office needs.
Becoming A Grant Writing Consultant: Part 4
INSTRUCTIONS: • • To print this page, wait for the page to fully load. Once the document is ready to print, simply click your browser's File menu and choose Print. To save this page, click your browser's File menu and choose Save As. Select a disk drive and folder to receive the file, and change the name of the file to less04.htm. To view the file while you are offline, just go to the drive and folder you selected when you saved the file and double-click the file named less04.htm. Your browser will start and you will have access to the file.
Unit 4.1 Introduction The next step in preparing to become a grant writing consultant is to learn how to link your experience with the types of clients you will market services to and to decide what services you will offer. What is your writing experience? What skills have you developed to help you target specific types of clients? How can you be an expert in the grant consulting field? What are the other grant-related services you will offer? My objective for Lesson 4 is to help you assess your experience, knowledge, and skills. I'll show you how to use your job experience to target clients. Then I'll give you some ideas on how to expand your services beyond writing proposals. This lesson is about linking your experience with paying projects.
Unit 4.2 Use Your Experience to Target Specific Clients Consulting is defined as professional activity related to a person's field or discipline, where a feefor-service relationship with another party exists. The main professional activity you'll perform in your new consulting business will be grant writing. You'll use the grant writing skills you've acquired on the job or through training. But do you know what your field is? The types of grant proposals you write, in part, categorize your current field of expertise when it comes to grant consulting. You probably have more expertise and skills than you realize. Let's examine that together.
Experience, knowledge, and skills Just think about all of the jobs you held prior to your current job and the occupational areas you were employed in. What do you remember about the businesses, industries, nonprofits, or units of government that employed you? What field are you working in now? What type of grant writing are you doing in your current position? Have you been employed in the same industry or type of nonprofit since you began to write? Make a list of your answers to these questions to assess what you already know. You may be surprised to discover how much you know already.
Know what clients look for in an expert Your work experience is the most important building block of your start-up consulting business. Use it to promote your services when targeting specific clients. Clients want to work with consultants that are familiar with their type of organization. Clients may even choose a new grant writing consultant with no previous writing experience to write their grant proposals over an
experienced writer. Why? Because they want someone with experience in their field; someone who is familiar with the jargon and buzzwords. They think a consultant can learn how to write the grant applications by reading the directions or guidelines, but may have difficulty understanding the field.
How clients pick consultants Clients choose consultants who understand what they are talking about and can provide valuable field-related information during the initial interview and in a pre-proposal planning meeting. Clients pick consultants who are referred by their colleagues in the field. Clients also pick consultants they have seen or met in field-related venues, such as conferences or workshops.
Using job experience to target clients Where are you on the occupational ladder? What have you been doing for a living? What fields or areas are you most familiar with? Regardless of your background, you can connect your experience with potential clients. If you have worked at a school, target public school districts, charter schools, private schools, and other organizations that provide preschool, primary, and secondary school-level educational services. If you have worked at a college or university, target community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and other organizations that provide post-secondary educational services. If you have worked in a health care setting as a nurse, emergency medical technician, or allied health professional, target community health clinics, hospitals, public health departments, and other organizations that provide health-related services. If you have worked in fire services, target fire departments, public education and safety programs, medical associations, ambulance authorities, and other organizations that provide firerelated services. If you have worked in law enforcement, target police departments, delinquency and prevention programs, substance abuse programs, and other organizations that provide law-related services. If you worked as an elected official or worked in municipal services, target units of municipal government, state government agencies, and other organizations that provide municipal-related services. If you have worked at a lot of jobs in many different occupational areas, target any nonprofit organization, first in the local community, then regionally, for an opportunity to provide contracted grant writing services. Remember, just because you start out consulting in an area that you are familiar with doesn't mean that you can't take on other types of projects as you build your confidence and track record in getting grants funded.
Unit 4.3 Types of Grant Writing Areas
The general grant consultant To market yourself as a general grant consultant, you must have some expertise in many occupational and specialty areas, but you don't have to be an expert in any one area of grant writing. Most grant writing consultants prefer not to be general grant consultants. Why? General grant consulting requires more time to research and gather information from clients, and sometimes you may need to sub-grant a grant writer who is a subject matter expert. However, your marketability goes up when you don't limit your services to one field.
The specialized grant consultant But what if your self-assessment shows you have concentrated knowledge? For example, if you have five years of experience as a grant writer for a K-12 school district, you have working knowledge on most issues pertaining to school-related grant writing. You can easily write grant proposals requesting money for curriculum development, school reform initiatives, school improvement planning, technology acquisitions, management information systems needs, and so forth. By all votes, you are an education grant specialist. You have the skills and knowledge to market yourself successfully to other school districts as an education grant writing consultant.
Why build a specialized grant consulting practice?
When you start your new business, you may find it easier on your brain and resources to stay in your comfort zone—that is, marketing your grant writing skills to organizations in the same field as the one you've been working in.
Specializing in one field of grant writing When you specialize, you can quickly build a reputation as an expert on grants in a particular field. Clients around the country will contract with you to write grants and applications because you know how to secure funding for organizations in their field. Your colleagues (other grant writing consultants) will refer clients to you when they receive a client inquiry in your specialty area. When you specialize, you really will become an expert from constantly researching and writing about one area. (Attending conferences and training opportunities in your field will also increase your knowledge.) You'll feel confident to accept last-minute grant writing projects because you'll have the knowledge needed to handle them.
Turn work experience into consulting expertise The easiest way to establish yourself as a specialty grant writing consultant is to offer services in the field you've worked in. For example, if your background is in health care, specialize in writing health care grants. Specialization may limit the topical focus, but does not limit the supply of potential clients. Ask yourself: How many health care organizations are there in my community? The region? The state? The country? Prospective clients will contact you once you get the word out that you're an expert in the health care field and that you can provide grant writing services. There is nothing wrong with specializing, provided you find enough clients to maintain a steady cash flow.
Make the transition from specialized to general grant consultant Can you become a general grant consultant, too? Yes, if you learn how to research efficiently. Good research skills can help you make the transition from an education-only grant writer to another area of specialization. Thanks to the Internet and its abundance of information, you can find out something about anything. Imagine this scenario: Someone you know tells the executive director of a local nonprofit organization that they know a grant writer who can help them win grant awards. You are that person, and you haven't even printed your business cards yet. You meet with the executive director and find out that the organization rescues Lynx Rufus (bobcats) that venture into the city from the mountains. Do you know a lot about bobcats? Probably not. Instead of dwelling on your ignorance, tell the prospective client about your skills. Tell the prospect that in addition to your years of experience in the education grant writing field, you possess excellent research and information–gathering skills and feel confident that you will be an effective member of their project team. You may sign up your first client as a result of your efforts.
Why build a general grant consulting practice? There are several good business reasons for operating a general grant consulting practice.
A constant revenue stream (cash flow) General grant consultants accept any type of grant writing project. As a general grants consultant, you market yourself to all types of clients and undertake a wide variety of projects. Your cash flow becomes constant because you're working year-round.
Honed project management skills General grant consultants learn and practice project management skills and deliver the final product when others fail. When you accept grant writing assignments on a wide range of topics, you learn how to efficiently extract background information provided by a client, research to discover missing information, organize that information, and write the grant proposal. These skills are assets when your client contracts with you to complete a last-minute project. You may invoice your client at a higher rate for last-minute projects than for projects that have a deadline of 21 days or more.
Unit 4.4 Consider Other Grant-related Services
Other moneymaking opportunities General grant consultants aren't restricted to providing services in a particular field. As a generalist, you can branch out from your grant writing business by conducting grant writing workshops and by writing grant-related publications. You can choose any topic and, using your information skills, create a specialized training course or publication.
Conduct grant writing workshops How do you find an audience for a grant writing workshop? Here's one way: Suppose you hear that your county government has received a federal grant award for low-income housing development. You research the particulars of the grant and discover that the county must re-grant the monies to community-based nonprofit housing development organizations. Next, you ask county officials when they'll be issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Finally, if the time frame allows, you create a one-day workshop on how to develop a winning grant application for county housing funds. You can apply this search-and-find-an-opportunity approach to any area where federal funding is granted for re-granting purposes. In addition to housing, you can develop one-day workshops for these types of organizations: • • • • • Arts and cultural Charter and private schools Childcare agencies Community and economic development Community colleges and universities
• • • • • • • • •
Domestic violence and abuse prevention Employment and training Environmental Faith-based (churches) Fire departments Hospitals and health care organizations Law enforcement agencies Museums Divisions or units of government
The workshops you plan and conduct are a great way to market your grant writing skills. Not only will you generate revenue through registration fees (yes, advertise your workshops and an audience will pay to attend), you will build credibility as a grant writer. Every workshop attendee is a potential consulting lead who will think of you when they need an expert grant writer.
Write articles and books You can extend your earnings, as well as gain recognition, by writing articles and books. Grantrelated periodicals buy articles on grant writing, grant funding, grant management, and program evaluation. You can package your expertise on these same topics in books. There are two ways to get your book published: 1. Write a book proposal and find a publisher interested in printing and promoting your book. With this option, the publisher assumes responsibility for everything but writing the manuscript, and you receive royalties for books sold. However, the publisher may not care as much about your book as you do and may not promote it as much as you would like. 2. Self-publish your book and sell it at your workshops, over the Internet, or through traditional outlets. You retain the profits and complete control over your book's publication and promotion when you self-publish.
Create a newsletter A monthly or quarterly newsletter packed with grant writing tips and/or leads to funding sources is read by busy staffers of nonprofit organizations—and keeps your business's name fresh in their minds. Some consultants send a complimentary copy of their newsletter to contracted clients, but sell subscriptions to non-clients. A newsletter is also a useful marketing tool when included with your other promotional information. Your newsletter doesn't have to be fancy, just useful. Some software programs sell templates for creating newsletters. All you have to do is type in the wording and add some graphics. Make good quality photocopies of the original for distribution. When you have a general grant consulting practice, you can branch out into any type of grant writing or related service. No field is off-limits.
Unit 4.5 Summary Today you learned how to assess your experience, knowledge, and skills. You discovered that you can be either a general grants consultant or a specialty grants consultant. You found that you have to use your writing assets to target specific clients. You learned that there are two types of grant writing areas: general and specialization. Finally, you discovered how to develop a menu of grants consulting services that give you a constant cash flow. In our next lesson, you'll discover how to set fees for your consulting work, when to discount projects, and when to say no to a potential client.
Supplementary Material BusinessTown.com http://www.businesstown.com/consulting/article3.asp This site gives you an overview of the new growth areas for consultants. While it does not specifically address grant writing consultants, the information is applicable to anyone thinking about becoming a consultant. SmallBusinessOutpost.com http://www.smallbusinessoutpost.com This site provides small business owners and home-based business entrepreneurs with free information, ideas, assistance, opportunities, and encouragement in their journey of starting and
operating their own business. Click on the Planning link for articles relevant to Lesson 4. The Wall Street Journal Center for Entrepreneurs http://www.startupjournal.com This site is an online journal with links to questions and answers about starting a business.
FAQs Q: I've been writing research grants for several years for the professors at a university. I've dreamed of leaving this never-changing environment to become a grant writing consultant. What suggestions do you have for finding clients? A: You're doubly prepared for a specialized grants consulting career. Your years of experience working for university professors have made you an expert grant writer, as well as given you a panoramic view of the difficulties college students encounter when they come to college unprepared for rigorous study and writing requirements. Use these assets to market your grant writing services to community colleges, technical schools, parochial high schools, secondary charter schools, and home school associations. These institutions prepare their students for entry into the university setting. Because of your practical and research experience at your university job, you know what it takes for students to prepare themselves academically for university life. Consider approaching potential clients with ideas for grant proposals for writing labs, more rigorous college preparatory curriculum, or for summer learning academies. Q: I have a little experience writing grant proposals. I really like public speaking. I'd rather design and present workshops throughout my state than write grant proposals for a living. How can I demonstrate credibility as a workshop presenter on the topic of grant writing? A: You can start by signing up for other grant writing workshops. Pay attention to the delivery style of the presenter. Look closely at the multimedia tools used to maintain the audience's attention. Examine the handouts. Do you still think designing and presenting a workshop is something that you can do? If you do, then select a topic and prepare thoroughly. Remember, do not violate copyright laws by using someone else's handouts for your own workshop. Instead, write your own training materials by researching funding trends on the Internet or at the library. Also contact foundations around the state and find out what they look for when selecting one grant proposal over another. After using this information to develop your presentation and accompanying materials, you'll be an authority ready to market your workshop yourself or approach a local nonprofit to sponsor it for you.
Becoming A Grant Writing Consultant: Part 5 INSTRUCTIONS: • • To print this page, wait for the page to fully load. Once the document is ready to print, simply click your browser's File menu and choose Print. To save this page, click your browser's File menu and choose Save As. Select a disk drive and folder to receive the file, and change the name of the file to less05.htm. To view the file while you are offline, just go to the drive and folder you selected when you saved the file and double-click the file named less05.htm. Your browser will start and you will have access to the file.
Unit 5.1 Introduction I know you're curious about how much to charge for your work. You may even start to worry yourself with the questions such as the following: What if I overprice my services and don't get any clients? What if I don't charge enough and end up with more work than I know what to do with? What do I have to do to reach a break even point? Grant consulting looks like an easy job to outsiders, but it involves a lot of hard behind-the-scenes research and writing. Determining the value of your services and convincing clients you're worth what you charge can be challenging. My objective today is to help you set marketable fees for each of the services you offer so you'll make money as a grant writing consultant—regardless of where you live or the state of the economy. I'll teach you how to set your fees based on your costs, expertise, and the type of
project. I'll also show you when to adjust your fees so you still make a profit. Finally, I'll show you where to draw the line and just say no to a prospective client.
Unit 5.2 What to Consider When Setting Fees A simple way to set a fee is to calculate the number of hours it will take to research and write a project, multiply the estimated hours by some dollar per hour amount, then quote the product as your fee for the project. But unless you factor office and project expenses into your hourly rate, you won't make the profit you think you will. Think about all the resources, services, and supplies you'll pay for to produce a quality project.
Costs to deliver the final project As the saying goes, you can't make money without spending money. However, you can make sure your clients help you with expenses. WHY IMPORTANT EXPENSE Telephone line Fax line For calling clients and funders For sending and receiving project-related materials Multipurpose paper For use in printer, photocopier, and fax machine Printer cartridge For printing drafts of grants as well as the master for duplication by a professional printer Commercial printing For duplicating multiple copies of the same proposal Postage For mailing projects to clients Subscriptions to online For locating appropriate funding sources and hardcopy funding source directories Electric utility For running a computer, printer, scanner, fax machine, desktop copier, other office equipment, and lights. Also consider other utility
bills that may increase because of your home business. Automobile For driving to the printer, office supply store, post office, and meetings Express delivery service For sending next day delivered completed grant proposal packages to client for signing and mailing to funders Labor For completing the project from start to finish Rather than nickel-and-dime your client for every expense, factor your costs into the hourly, flat per project, or long-term contract fee you quote. Calculate the sum to add to your fee by prorating recurring expenses (such as phone bills and subscriptions); estimating typical costs for supplies, commercial printing, mailing, and mileage; and setting an annual salary. (See Unit3 for more on setting fees.)
Breakdown of labor tasks To complete a grant writing consulting project from start to finish, you must perform many essential tasks. TASK Do funding search PURPOSE To identify several giving entities to approach for project funding. Conduct topic To gather pertinent information related to the research subject of the proposal, which supports project needs or goals. Review client To select information for inclusion in the narrative information that introduces the client and pertains to the need for the project. Write cover letter for To explain what document is enclosed and to add grant proposal any details not mentioned in the proposal. (You'll print the letters on the client's letterhead.) Fill in grant proposal To apply for grants from foundations and corporate forms funders that require responses on their customized application forms. Write grant proposal To describe your client and the project for which narrative they are requesting funding. (Narratives are typically five to forty typed pages.) Edit and proof first To catch and correct factual, technical, and and second drafts grammatical errors. (Some grant writing consultants get help with this task from an editorial services contractor.) Send client drafts of To have client review the content of documents all project-related and make changes as necessary to them. (You'll documents you write send copies of cover letters, proposals of all types, and application forms by fax or e-mail.) Print final drafts and To provide client with ready to sign and mail assemble grant proposals and cover letters, as well as file copies. proposal packages (You'll use metal binder clips to keep proposal pages together and will include mailing instructions.) Mail grant proposal To deliver hard copies of your work to client.
packages Limited work hours Full-time grant writing consultants typically work 60 or more hours weekly. Part-time grant writing consultants are likely to work 20 to 40 hours a week. Seldom, if ever, do grant writing consultants work on one project at a time. Because their time is at a premium, they adjust their fees according to how much time they'll have to complete the project.
Due date Due dates for grant opportunities can range from two to ninety days after announcement to potential applicants. You may not be contacted until the client has already attempted to write the grant proposal and failed to finish it or is running out of time. Then you get a frantic call for help. When clients call you to pick up the project they have given up on, they forget you may have to work day and night to do it right and do it on time. They forget all that is involved in the research and writing of the grant proposal. It is your job to remind potential clients of how hard you will work for them and what resources you will use to help them meet a grant proposal deadline. Before you say yes to a last-minute, due-now project, remember, you will be losing sleep, health, sanity, friends, and the time you scheduled for other already contracted projects. And if you do say yes to a rush job, make sure you're compensated for all the sacrifices you'll be making.
Length of application narrative Funding sources generally specify page limitations for grant proposals. Most foundations prefer fewer than five pages of narrative—a piece of cake. Most corporations want a two- to three-page letter proposal—a quick way to make easy money. However, government grant funding agencies often want eight- to forty-page narratives (and single-spaced, to boot!)—not so easy. Sometimes you'll have to scan and complete a number of forms. Consider how long and complicated the application is—and thus, how much time and effort it will take to complete it—when setting your consulting fees.
Geographic location of the client You will need to keep reminding yourself that the cost of living rate is higher in regions of the country. Even within a state, rural areas have a lower cost of living rate than urban areas. When you have clients in high-end areas (east or west coast or resort communities), you will need to adjust your rates to match those of your competitors living in these areas. I live in a rural town. I have to constantly remind myself not to set low rates based on my own cost of living rate.
Unit 5.3 How to Set Your Rates Knowing what to charge for your services can be perplexing. However, deciding on fees is easier when your pricing structure follows the simple accounting principle of income: Price your work so that your revenues cover all your costs. To apply this principle, you must first identify what your cost will be for being in business.
Overhead and operating costs Make a list of all the monthly overhead operating expenses you will incur to run your grant writing consulting business. Overhead costs include rent, utilities, business and health insurance, and taxes. Operating costs include labor, office supplies, printing, and postage and shipping. You'll also have quarterly and annual expenses.
Typical quarterly expenses • • • Federal and state estimated tax deposits (for sole proprietors) Seasonal advertising (online and print media) Commission checks to individuals and companies who send you new clients (five to ten percent of the contract fee is a good show of appreciation)
Typical annual expenses • • • • • • SEP-IRA deposits (sole proprietors) Regular IRA or 401K plan contributions (partnerships and corporations) Subscription renewals (FC-Search and other publications) Equipment and software upgrades Internet service provider e-commerce fees Local business licenses (if required)
Estimate work and billable hours Not all of the hours you spend in your office will generate revenue for you. You'll be attending to business-related matters a large percentage of the time.
To calculate how many work hours are billable, first decide how many hours and weeks you want to work. Suppose you work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year (2,000 hours of work time). How much of this time will you actually spend on client projects? Remember, you can't bill your clients for time spent marketing your business, office supply shopping, or when your computer is down. If you think you'll spend 75 percent of your annual time doing grant consulting work, then you'll have 1,500 billable hours.
Calculate your funding success rate You can charge more for your services if you have an impressive funding success rate. Compute your funding success rate by dividing the total number of projects you wrote over a set period of time (usually one year) that were submitted to funders by the number of those projects that were funded in the same period of time. Here's an example: Let's say that you write 12 projects your first year as a grant writing consultant. If 3 of the 12 projects receive grant awards, you have a funding success rate of 25 percent (3 divided by 12 times 100); 6 projects, 50 percent (6 divided by 12 times 100); 9 projects, 75 percent (9 divided by 12 times 100); and if they are all funded, 100 percent (12 divided by 12 times 100). Reminder: The lag time in receiving award notifications is six to nine months after they are submitted to funders.
Know your competitor's prices Find out what other grant writing consultants in the area are charging for their services, but don't use competitor pricing as the sole factor in lowering or raising your fees. Instead, use the information to gauge how your own rates, based on your funding success, compare.
Grant consulting price ranges Grant writing consultants charge either by the hour or by the project. How much they charge depends on the difficulty of the project, their experience and funding success rate, and client location. National rate averages are given below.
Hourly rate ranges for corporate and foundation requests If you are a novice grant writer, then I suggest you set your hourly fee for all types of projects at $25 per hour. This fee may seem low, but remember, you're asking potential clients to contract with someone who doesn't have many, if any, grant writing references. If you have a funding success rate of 25 percent, then I suggest you set your hourly fee for all types of projects at $50 per hour. When you reach a 50 percent funding success rate, then I suggest you set your hourly fee for all types of projects at $75 per hour. When you reach a 75 percent or higher funding success rate, then I suggest you set your hourly fee for all types of projects at $100 to $150 per hour.
A very experienced grant writing consultant (90 percent or higher funding success rate) can charge up to $200 per hour and bill to the nearest hour—even for a 10-minute telephone call with a client.
Hourly rates for government grant applications Government grant applications are very involved and can take a veteran grant writer 20 hours to complete; an inexperienced grant writer may take up to 100 hours. A client should not have to pay for your lack of experience. Don't bill hourly for government grants.
Flat rate fees A couple of things make charging flat rate fees for grant writing projects attractive. One, you invoice your client upfront, before you start the project. (I never start a project until the check has cleared with my bank account.) Two, you don't have to worry about recording your time whenever you're working on the project or talking with the client.
Flat rate fee ranges for single projects If you are a novice grant writer, quote from $2,000 to $2,500 per project for all types of grant writing (corporate, foundation, state, and federal). If you have a 25 percent funding success rate, quote from $2,500 to $5,000 per project. When you reach a funding success rate of 50 percent, set your fees in the $5,000 to $7,500 per project range. At the 75 percent funding success rate level, you will be able to set your fees in the range of $7,500 to $10,000. And of course, when you near the top of the funding success rate scale (90 percent or higher), you can start your fees at $10,000 and up.
Long-term contracts Some clients will want to contract with you for multiple grant writing projects. When you sign contracts for more than one project, you are committing to a long-term relationship with your clients. Typical long-term contracts will be from three months to several years. Long-term clients bring you some peace of mind because they will prepay for services. However, if you sign only two or three long-term clients per year, make sure you earn enough to pay the bills, including writing yourself a paycheck. Take time now to determine how many projects you feel qualified to write in a three-month to oneyear timeframe, so you'll be ready when a client asks you to sign a long-term contract.
Rates (or fees or charges) for a long-term contract
How do you set the rate for a long-term grant writing contract? First, forecast the number of possible projects, the number of grant proposals needed to fund each project in its entirety, and the types of grant writing projects. Next, calculate the work on a per-project charge basis, then discount the per project total by as much as 25 percent for the long-term contract fee. For example, let's say your client needs two grant proposals (one for submission to foundations and the other to state government) written for five different projects—10 writing projects over one year. You have a 25 percent funding success rate, so you could charge the client $1,500 per project, or $15,000 for all ten projects. After showing the client the combined per-project cost, offer a discounted rate of $13,750. Your client will jump at the offer and sign a long-term contract.
Considerations before you sign Be careful when drafting the terms of long-term contracts that you can deliver what you promise. I limit my services to no more than 20 corporate and foundation grant proposals annually for any project the client or I dream up. Don't agree to an exclusivity clause. You'll need to contract with several clients to earn a good income, and to prove to the IRS that you're a business and not someone's employee. Set a reasonable contract term. Indicate the flat fee will increase when the contract is renewed. Give yourself, and the client, an out. State when and how the contract can be terminated early.
Percentage fees For single grant proposals, you can charge a percentage of the amount being requested. If you write a proposal to request $50,000, you bill five percent to ten percent of that amount upfront.
Set a daily rate for special services In Lesson 4, I discussed some of the ways (other than writing) to make money as a grant writing consultant, such as conducting workshops. Here's an example of how to establish a minimum daily rate for grant writing, workshops, on-site consulting, and other special services. Desired annual gross income Plus overhead expenses (annual estimate) Equals Divided by estimated billing days per year (working four days weekly for 50 weeks) $60,000 $15,000 $75,000 200 days
Equals your minimum daily rate (divide total output by 200) of $375. More experienced grant writing consultants will charge $1,500 to $3,000 per day, plus travelrelated expenses.
Unit 5.4 Learn to Avoid Pitfalls As a new grant writing consultant, you may be too willing and eager to sign with and invoice a new client. After all, you are in business to make money. Before you sign on the dotted line, though, take some advice from seasoned grant writing consultants who have encountered every possible pitfall.
Avoid contingency work Contingency contracts are a gamble. You write a grant proposal in anticipation of its being funded. You do not receive payment unless and until funding comes through. Some grant writing professionals consider working on contingency unethical. If your client's board of directors changes while you're waiting for payment, the new board may not honor the contract. If the administrative personnel change, the new director or administration may not honor the contract. If your client shuts the doors and ceases services, you will not be paid. Can you afford to work for nothing, then wait nine to twelve months to get a check? Do not let your guard down; do not panic if business is slow when a client wants you to sign a contingency contract. Think of your bills and keep marketing your services to nonprofit and forprofit organizations able to pay your fee.
Problems with charging flat rate fees The big advantage to signing a yearlong flat fee contract is that you are paid upfront. That advantage can also be a bugaboo. If you undercharge for your services, you'll be angry for a year. If you overcharge for your services and the client doesn't receive sufficient grant awards, you may put your reputation as a grant writing consultant at risk. I avoid the second problem by working for free an additional year if I fail to win grant awards for the client in the first year. Usually I do have success the second year. Of course, in the second year, I pay the cost of doing repeat work, not the client. I set aside some of the contract monies to cover this contingency.
Monthly payments Some clients will suggest making monthly payments over the course of a contract in hopes of using some grant award monies to pay you. Monthly payments are fine; however, make sure you tell your client that you cannot be paid from funded grant awards.
Watch for the source of monthly payments A grant award may not pay for expenses incurred before the official notification of the award. Should your client pay you from a funded grant, an audit by the funding source could determine that your payment is a disallowed cost. In that case, the client will have to refund the money to the funder and you could lose your contract. In a worse scenario, you will have to give the money you received for payment back to your client and wait, anxiously, for the client to find another way to pay you.
Charge late fees Some clients have a tendency to ignore monthly invoice due dates and need incentive to pay. Tell clients you charge a late fee for late payments when you negotiate the contract. Print on the invoice how many days the client has to pay before the late fee is charged. Generally, grant writing consultants charge a five to ten percent weekly late fee. You will want to consider hefty late fees since your billings will be for over $1,000.
When to say no to a potential client Say no when you'll just break even on a project. Say no when the client tries to talk you into doing more for less. Say no when you feel uneasy in a rate bartering situation. Say no when you feel like you are giving your services away. Say no when a potential client says take it or leave it. When you are barely paying the bills as it is, say no. Another client will always come along willing to pay you what you're worth—just believe in yourself as a grant writing consultant.
Unit 5.5 Summary Today you learned how to charge for your work. You discovered that you base fees on your cost of doing business, including your labor, as well as on your availability, funding success rate, and the complexity and deadlines of projects. You learned what expenses to factor into your fees. You also learned how to estimate your work and billable hours and calculate your funding success rate. You discovered that competitors' prices may serve as guideposts for your own rates. You found out you may charge by the hour, a per-project flat fee, a long-term flat fee, a percentage, or a daily rate for your services. You learned current ranges for the different billing options and how to quote jobs in each of the options. You learned the drawbacks of hourly and flat fee rates, working by the hour, and monthly payments. Finally, you learned to trust your instincts and say no to a client when the proposed grant writing opportunity isn't worth your while. In my next lesson, you'll learn how to cost-effectively market your services as a grant writing consultant.
Supplementary Material IntoBiz! http://intobiz.tripod.com/businessopps/make_money_by_finding_free_money.htm This site shows you how to get started, what to charge, and how to build your reputation as a grant writing consultant. PowerHomeBiz.com http://www.powerhomebiz.com/vol69/charge.htm This site has several articles on how to charge for your grant consulting services.
FAQs Q: What if I set my fees too high and can't attract clients? A: The problem may not be that your fees are too high, but that you are asking more than the going rate. Set your fees based on what the local economy will bear. The fees that you charge where you live will be different from the fees for out-of-town and out-of-state clients. If you live in a rural area with a depressed economy, your fees will be low compared to the suggested national
standards in Lesson 5—and lower than you'll quote clients outside your area. On the other hand, if you live or work on the East or West Coast, your rates will be on the high side. Locally, I can charge $1,000 for a one-day grant writing workshop. However, when I work out-of-state, I can charge from $1,800 to $3,000, plus travel-related expenses for the same workshop.
Assignment Your assignment for Lesson 5 is to find out what grant writing consultants in your area charge and how they set their fees. Note the low and high hourly and flat per project fees. How do your fees compare? Do you need to adjust your rates to compete for business locally? If you want to share your findings with your fellow students, post them to the Discussion Area.
Becoming A Grant Writing Consultant : Part 6 INSTRUCTIONS: • • To print this page, wait for the page to fully load. Once the document is ready to print, simply click your browser's File menu and choose Print. To save this page, click your browser's File menu and choose Save As. Select a disk drive and folder to receive the file, and change the name of the file to less06.htm. To view the file while you are offline, just go to the drive and folder you selected when you saved the file and double-click the file named less06.htm. Your browser will start and you will have access to the file.
Unit 6.1 Introduction I know you're wondering how to market your consulting services. You're right to wonder. Many new businesses fail because they don't have a marketing plan to guide them as they promote services. In this lesson, I'll show you how to write a marketing plan that answers questions about who you are, what you do, and how much you charge for your services and also sets a timetable for marketing (promotion) activities. My objective is to teach you marketing methods geared toward a grant writing consulting business. I'll help you take some critical pre-marketing steps. I'll show you how to write a marketing plan. Finally, I'll share some of my favorite and most successful marketing techniques.
Unit 6.2 Pre-marketing Steps A marketing strategy involves four P's: product, price, process, and promotion. Preliminary work on your marketing plan begins with taking steps to describe the four-part strategy in relation to your business.
Step 1: Define your products As a grant writing consultant, your products are the services you sell. Your primary service will be proposal writing. Your secondary services may include proposal critique and review and funding searches. Stop now and list your primary and secondary products, or services.
Step 2: Decide your pricing Your pricing for primary and secondary grant writing services will be based on your grant writing experience and funding success rate. Remember, the higher your success rate, the higher you may set your prices. Write down a price for each service you plan to offer. Below is a list some of the basic services that grant writing consultants offer. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Corporate letter funding searches Corporate letter writing Corporate letter critique and review Initial letter of inquiry preparation Pre-writing telephone consultation Program development planning Foundation funding searches Foundation proposal writing Foundation proposal critique and review Letter of intent preparation Preliminary grant application preparation State government funding searches State government grant application writing State government grant application critique and review Federal government funding searches Federal government grant application writing Federal government grant application critique and review Writing evaluation reports Grant writing workshops (half-day and full-day pricing)
Establish an hourly and per project pricing structure for the different types of services you will offer. In addition, decide how much you'll charge for long-term, multiple-project consulting services. Stop now and write down price ranges for your services.
Step 3: Document the process Process refers to how you will approach and complete a contracted assignment. In other words, what tasks you will perform while providing services and how the product (a grant proposal, in the case of grant writing) will be delivered. The process statement documents the full scope of services. Here is an example of how to document a process: Upon signing of a contract and remittance of the agreed-upon fee, the MY Company will perform the following scope of services: 1. Prepare a list of all information needed to begin the project and fax or e-mail to the Client's representative. 2. Begin the 45-day client information review process upon receipt of 100 percent of the requested information. During this time, the Consultant will organize the information in writing order and research Internet sources for supporting statistical information. The Consultant will also conduct a funding search to identify up to 15 potential funders for the Client's project. 3. Write a draft proposal for the Client's approval and feedback. Upon receipt of the Client's feedback, the Consultant will begin finalizing the project. 4. Deliver to Client one or more complete proposal packages for mailing to each funder, typed mailing labels, mail-merged cover letters and cover forms customized to meet each funder's area of interest and funding range, and a master copy of the mailing list of funders and the grant proposal for the Client's files within 90 days from the contract signing date. 5. Provide funder correspondence review and make recommendations for rejected grant proposals. Because potential clients considering contracting with your company want to know what they'll get for their money, it's worthwhile to include process details in marketing materials. Stop now and write down every detail of your process.
Step 4: Think about promotion When you promote your business, you tell your clients that your business exists and persuade them to try your grant writing services. Consider your promotion options. Will you purchase mailing lists from the United Way, the state Department of Education, or the Council of Churches? Will you send an introductory letter and business card, or will you send a brochure? Will you advertise? Stop now and make a list of whom you will promote your services to and how you will promote your services. Now that you have a grasp on your business's products, pricing structure, process, and promotion concepts, you're ready to write a successful marketing plan using your four-part marketing strategy.
Unit 6.3 Write Your Marketing Plan Why do you need a marketing plan? Because without a marketing plan, you can become consumed in now work and forget to worry about what may come next month, in three months, or even next year. If you are unprepared for changes in the business climate, your business may flounder.
Road map for your business A marketing plan helps you assess economic conditions that may affect your grant consulting business and serves as a road map that guides your business's operations so it maintains even cash flow. Usually covering one year, it contains broad information about your company. A successful plan describes your consulting services, the benefits of each service to potential clients, and the needs your services meet. The plan also includes information about your target market, their contracting habits, and competing services, as well as possible marketing activities and a budget for them.
Marketing plan components Marketing plans and grant proposals have similar components, although the section titles are slightly different. The sections for the marketing plan components are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Executive Summary Current Situation Marketing Objectives Marketing Strategy Action Plan Budget Supporting Documents
1. Executive summary section The executive summary introduces your company and the main points of your marketing plan. Begin by writing a few sentences about the nature of your consulting business and the services you will offer. Next, describe your founding philosophy, mission statement, and company objectives. Also indicate whether your grant consulting business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Highlight your qualifications as a grant writing consultant. End the executive summary with your marketing objectives and marketing strategy from your complete marketing plan.
Note: If you prefer, write the entire executive summary, except for the marketing objectives and the marketing strategy, before the rest of the marketing plan. Just don't forget to go back and add the last two points to the executive summary. 2. Current situation section In this section, you write about your business location, target market, competitors, and key marketing issues your company faces, including economic barriers. Answer the following questions: Where is your business located? City? County? State? Region of the country? In formal offices? In your home? What types of organizations are most likely to be interested in your consulting services? Nonprofits or for-profits? Rural or urban? Small or large? Local, statewide, regional or national? Industry sectors (education, health care, animal services, adoption agencies, and many others)? Who and where are your competitors? Grant writing consultants, development officers, fundraisers? Are they local, elsewhere in your state, in the region, or national? What marketing issues does your company face? New to the grant consulting field? Unable to present a track record? Unable to provide letters of reference from clients? Do you lack a college degree? Do you have the ability to produce your own marketing materials? Do you have limited knowledge of how to access potential clients outside of the local area? In order to understand your current situation, you will also need to address the following questions: What are the economic barriers to doing business? Are you still trying to identify start-up costs? Will you have to use cash advances from credit cards to pay for advertising and postage? Will you apply for a bank or credit union line of credit? Do you have credit problems? Learn from your responses Answering these questions and more will provide clarity to your current situation. Once you understand your current situation, you will be able to write a marketing plan to overcome all barriers identified in this narrative section. My business situation changes year to year, and so will yours. I started out targeting education clients. When business started to slow down, I redirected my marketing strategy to other types of nonprofit organizations. This year my target market is fire services, an area that I enjoy learning and writing about and one with very little competition from other grant writers. Plan beyond your home base Soon after I started consulting, I realized I needed to target potential clients outside of the town where I lived. My town was a one company town. When the company experienced bad economic times, the entire town—businesses and workers—suffered. Targeting clients in a monocyclic economic environment means your business will experience volatile ups and downs. Seek clients in multiple industry communities to avoid economic barriers.
1. Marketing objectives section In this section, you write marketing objectives that are measurable in the same quantitative ways as grant proposal objectives. Include a timeframe for achieving each marketing objective. The following example shows two marketing objectives: Marketing objective #1: Increase local awareness of MY Company grant writing services by 50 percent. Timeframe: Mail 200 promotional brochures monthly in months one through six. Marketing objective #2: Increase statewide awareness of MY Company grant writing services by 25 percent. Timeframe: Attend and speak at one state nonprofit association meeting each month for one year. 2. Marketing strategy section In this section, you write your plan for achieving the marketing objectives. You must cover the four components of marketing: product, price, process, and promotion. Product: describe the services you will offer in detail. Price: describe your pricing structure and payment policies. Process: describe the scope of services involved in delivering each end product to your clients. Promotion: describe the promotional tools you will use to accomplish your marketing objectives.
Action plan section In this section, you write your marketing to-do list. Tell what will be done, when it will begin or be completed, and who will accomplish the tasks. Remember, you'll probably be the sole employee of your new business, so develop a realistic action plan that you can actually accomplish. Be sure to schedule time each week for marketing activities. I'm in my office writing five to six days per week, but every Friday, I spend three hours marketing my grant consulting services. Some weeks I type promotional letters and target 50 nonprofits in a state; other weeks I spend three hours on the Internet sending promotional e-mails to potential clients. Another way I carry out my action plan is by handing out business cards and brochures at every workshop I conduct and at every national conference I attend. Develop a marketing action plan like mine, and you'll have plenty of work to keep you busy.
Budget section In this section, you list the cost of the marketing activities you described in the action plan. My annual budget includes the cost of business cards, printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, and stamps for monthly promotional letter mailings. Some 30 percent of my annual marketing budget
goes for a running national advertisement. Other budget items include Web site host fees and non-reimbursable conference appearance fees.
Supporting documents section In this section, you include your resume, organizational chart (if you have other staff), market research results, and any multi-year budget forecasts related to the marketing plan. When writing your marketing plan, focus on your business goals and what you need to do to reach those goals. Review your marketing plan monthly and update the action plan section as warranted by changes in the economy and the effectiveness of activities.
Unit 6.4 Successful Marketing Ideas Over the years, I tried several marketing approaches to get the word out to potential clients about my business. Some of my most successful marketing ideas are learned from experienced colleagues in the grant consulting field. I think this will be true for you, as well. I have used my colleagues to develop the "best of the best" when it comes to aggressive and effective marketing approaches. My final four approaches are winners that can work for your grant writing consulting business, too. 1. Referral incentives Tell everyone you know what you do for a living. Mail and hand out business cards to family members, friends, professional colleagues, and strangers. When you give someone your card, tell him or her you pay a referral incentive fee for any client they refer to you that signs a contract. After you receive payment from the new client, send a check equal to five or ten percent of the contract to the referring party. People work hard to find clients for you when you keep your word and really do pay referral incentives. A fellow consultant has referred clients to me for over a decade. I pay this consultant an average of $10,000 annually in referral incentive fees. My business grows by 25 percent a year from referrals. 2. Presentations Teaching others what you know about grant writing is a great business-builder. Not only do you earn money by presenting workshops, but you also pick up new clients from those attending. Make it known to local, regional, and statewide nonprofit organizations that you're interested in training their members how to write successful grant proposals. At every workshop or conference, you'll have 20, 40, or even 100 potential clients or referring individuals giving you their undivided attention. Be ready when your phone rings and someone asks you about your training services. Prepare one- to two-hour curriculum, half-day curriculum, and full-day curriculum on multiple topics. My workshop topics include basic proposal writing, advanced proposal writing, grant seeking skills, and proposal critique and review. I conduct 20 to 40 workshops every year for nonprofit organizations around the United States. At every one, I market my grant writing consulting services by passing out business cards and handouts with my Web site address and by networking during breaks and lunch. Annually, 25 percent of my new clients come from workshop participants. 3. Business Web site
A Web site lets prospective clients discover and find out more about your grant consulting business before contacting you directly. Annually, 25 percent of my new clients learn of my services from my Web site. Create a Web site for your business that uses a logical, memorable domain name. Potential clients won't remember a domain name with too many extensions, such as www.MyGrantConsultingCompany/member/yyy.com. However, if you have a domain URL such as www.arkansasgrants.com, potential clients will be able to access your site easily and remember your web site address. I recommend that you budget for the cost of the domain name and for Web site host start-up and annual fees. Selecting a Web site host Don't use free or bargain basement Web site hosts. Instead, go with a reliable site host that has a history of good service. Before selecting a company to host your Web site, check out other Web sites the company hosts. Also ask the following questions before you sign any contracts for Web site hosting: What is the annual fee and how can it be paid (monthly, quarterly, or annually)? Do you provide newcomers with user-friendly Web site development template software? How easy will it be for me to make changes to my site and post them on the World Wide Web? How many mail boxes can I have? Are they included in the annual site hosting fee? Will I be able to forward my e-mail to another mail server? Web site creation and maintenance It is more cost-effective to develop your own Web site than to hire someone to develop and maintain it. Once you have a registered domain name, you can create your first Web site in less than four hours using template software. You won't need any special software or technical skills. Remember, however, just having a Web site is not enough; you need to maintain it, too. Periodically update the content, and every two to three months take about two hours of your time to make sure your site is listed on the top search engines. You want your business to pop up on the results list in response to a search for grant writing consultants. 4. Testimonials Every time you write a grant proposal that is funded, e-mail or call your client and ask for a written letter of recommendation for marketing purposes. You may have to call and remind the client several times, but don't give up. Letters of recommendation are proof of your ability to write winning grant proposals for different types of clients. If you've been doing your job as a grant writing consultant well, then your clients will rave about your abilities to craft words and find money. Sort your letters by client type, for instance, education, health care, homelessness, fire services, and so forth. Whenever you receive an inquiry from a potential client, fax them
copies of letters from satisfied clients in the same field. Even skeptical potential clients will become believers in your grant writing abilities when they read testimonials. Ask previous and current clients to write letters of recommendation on their letterhead and include contact information, so a potential client can communicate directly with them. Unit 6.5 Summary Today you learned how to market your consulting services, how to organize and pre-plan your marketing ideas before you write your marketing plan, and how to develop a marketing strategy using the four P's: product, pricing, process, and promotion. You also learned how to write a marketing plan, which has many of the same components as a grant proposal. You now know what to include in your plan's executive summary, current situation, competitor and issues analysis, marketing objectives, marketing strategy, action plan, and budget sections. In addition, you learned what supporting documentation to attach to the marketing plan. Finally, you learned about marketing techniques that have proven successful for me as a grant writing consultant. You discovered how to circulate your business card and information widely and gain the assistance of others in building your business. In my next lesson, you'll learn how to find paying clients. You'll learn about professional business networks, how to find contracting opportunities in classified advertisements, and how to use the Internet for prospecting new clients.
Supplementary Material SmallBusinessNow.com http://www.smallbusinessnow.com This Web site gives tips for small office and home office success. You will find articles on how to fire up referrals and how to develop a marketing niche. BiZine.com http://www.bizine.com This Web site provides small business marketing news and homebased business resources. Smallbusiness.com http://www.smallbusiness.com This Web site has numerous articles on home-based business promotion.
Q: Why do I need a marketing plan? I'm really good at writing down my to-do tasks in my day planner. The marketing plan seems like a lot of unnecessary work. A: Your marketing plan will be your business's road map to success. I'm really good at making a lot of to-do lists too. However, when I get caught up in my daily deadlines, answering the telephone, typing contracts, booking workshops, cleaning the office, and restocking supplies, I often forget the importance of marketing. Because I have a road map (marketing plan), I am able to refocus on marketing, so I won't have business lulls down the road.
Assignment Your assignment for Lesson 6 is to outline your marketing strategy. Summarize product, price, process, and promotion sufficiently so you can later write a complete marketing plan ready for implementation. If you want to share your findings with your fellow students, post them in the Discussion Area.
Becoming A Grant Writing Consultant Unit 7.1 Introduction By now you're probably thinking about where to find potential clients that need your services. Successful grant writing consultants continually look for business opportunities in a number of places. Most nonprofit organizations advertise job openings for grant writers and other grant-related positions in newspapers or on the Internet. Consider such public postings an invitation to propose contracted grant consulting services. My objective today is to teach you how to search for and develop consulting opportunities. I'll show you how to use the Internet and newspapers to find new clients. I'll also show you how to present your services so effectively that clients will hire you sight unseen.
Unit 7.2 Find Clients on the Internet I have several favorite Internet sites for locating potential freelance consulting opportunities. I check these sites weekly to look for newly posted job openings, as well as advertisements for grant writing consultants. Checking on a monthly or quarterly basis will result in losing dozens of contracted services opportunities. However, checking these sites daily is a waste of time since many of them only add new information weekly. Look for employee wanted ads When you look at job opportunities Internet sites, focus on job descriptions that include any aspect of grant writing or grant research. Keep in mind that whenever a nonprofit organization posts a job opening for a full-time or part-time grant writer or other grant-related position, you can propose contracted consulting services. Once you log onto the Internet, you will want to bring up your favorite search engine. Try entering some of the following names in the search field to find which site you like best for finding potential contracting openings: Non-Profit Expert, NonProfit Times, OpportunityNOCs, and the Philanthropy News Digest. Once you hit the jackpot with one or more great Web sites, mark them with bookmarks so you will be able to quickly return to them. Some of the Web sites are subscription based. However, just look for the job listings, job postings, or free access links. You will want to read each job posting and choose the ones that you will target to receive your contracted services proposal. Make sure you print each job listing you find and respond to via the Internet. Keep the job listings on file in the event you receive some interest from potential clients. Addresses for my favorite Internet sites with job postings are in the Supplementary Material section. Look for consultant wanted ads By now, you can see that you can easily spend several hours per day on the Internet, between researching your projects, e-mailing your clients, and looking for prospective clients. Many of the opportunities for contracted grant consulting will not be on a nonprofit resource site. Instead, you will need to experiment with several types of search engine field entries. Ones that I use frequently with a lot of success include: • • • • Grant writing consultant wanted Freelance grant writing Grant writer wanted or needed Part-time grant writer wanted or needed
Watch for red flags Look for these red flags once you locate an employee or consultant wanted ad: First, does the ad state that it is a paid consulting opportunity? If not, don't waste your time. Dozens of nonprofit organizations post ads for volunteer or commission grant writers. Avoid these kinds of contract offers like the plague. It is unlikely that you will be able to convince any organization looking for a volunteer to cough up the cash in order to secure your services. Second, when was the ad posted? If it is older than 90 days, do not send a contracted services proposal first. Instead, send a brief email to ask if they are still looking for a grant writing consultant. If the response is yes, then proceed with sending your proposal. If no, ask them to keep your company in mind for future grant writing consultant needs. Keep information on file Print and file all Web findings for future call-back or e-mail follow-up. I suggest you maintain these contacts in your file for two years before discarding. Sometimes, Web site leads will not actually contact you for serious contract consideration for as long as two years. The longest that I had to wait for a Web contact was 18 months. Two years is a safe timeframe for keeping any contract leads.
Unit 7.3 Find Clients in the Newspapers The classified advertisements in general readership newspapers are good sources of potential clients. You can scan ads in your local newspaper. Or if you plan to market your consulting services in a wider geographic area, log onto the Internet or visit the public library to read regional and out-of-state newspapers. Remember how you read the newspaper classifieds in the past to find a job? Well, when you look for contracted grant consulting opportunities, take the same approach. • First, zero in on administrative or professional classified advertisements. Look for job opening ads that include the word grant in the position title or opening line. By looking for the word grant rather than the keywords consultant, contract, or writer, you'll narrow your search to grant-related job openings. Position title: Grant Writer The Grant Writer will be responsible for providing management level support for the development and acquisition of grants awarded to the District. The Grant Writer will act as a consultant to schools/programs/Administrative Service Center regarding grant application and grant management processes, and will act as a liaison between grant foundations and District staff. • • Second, circle all job openings that include the word grant. Third, look deeper for contracting opportunities. Find ads in the administrative or professional sections using the word proposal and circle those job openings as well. Position title: Proposal Writer We are seeking independent contractors to fill a variety of proposal development roles. The main industry segments we serve are BOS, O&M, IT, Telecommunications, Environmental, Energy, Aerospace, and Defense. Positions open for proposal managers, proposal writers, subject matter experts, graphic designers, editors, publication specialists, capture managers.
Cut out every job opening you circled with the words grant and proposal. Paste or tape each ad on a separate blank sheet of paper. This way you will have space to write notes, like date replied to, date contacted, date followed up, or filed [date] , not response. Fourth, look over the job openings you clipped and sort them according to priority. For example, you'd put a job opening for a grant writing consultant before one for a full-time project specialist whose duties will include grant writing. Fifth, note how the employers want to receive replies from interested job seekers. Some employers want a full resume sent in the mail. Other employers have electronic application processes. Some employers prefer to receive ad responses via e-mail or fax.
Don't risk having your application ignored because you didn't answer an ad as requested. Underline or highlight the how to apply details in every job announcement and follow the instructions. For every job opening ad you clipped, prepare a contracted services proposal, whether you're replying to an advertisement for a consultant or as an employee. Your proposal letter will present employers with another staffing option. Many nonprofit organizations are so used to hiring in-house staff that they never think about contracted grant writing services. Furthermore, they may not be aware of your company or its services—or how cost-effective it would be to contract with you instead of hiring an employee. Potential clients want to save money and time. In the contracted services proposal you send them, you'll emphasize how you can save them both by using your services. In Unit 4, I show you how to develop a magnetizing contracted services proposal.
Unit 7.4 Propose Contracted Services In any given week, you'll find job openings for the following grant-related positions on the Internet and in newspapers: • • • • • • • • • Development Director Development Officer Government Grants and Contracts Supervisor Director of Advancement Program Officer Project Coordinator Director of Foundation and Corporate Giving Development Assistant Grant Specialist
Sample job posting In the following example, I show you how to read a job posting and propose a winning consulting contract. Valley View Mental Health Services Anyplace, USA Valley View Mental Health Services is seeking an individual to assist in our programmatic and general support fundraising activities with foundations and government agencies. Working in our development office, the position is dedicated to assisting in identifying and generating government, foundation, and corporate revenues for new and existing programs. The Grant Specialist will report to the Vice President of Development and will be responsible for: 1. Identifying and pursuing foundation and corporate funding; 2. Developing grant proposals; and 3. Researching and responding to government funding opportunities and requests-forproposals (RFPs). Qualifications: Bachelor's degree required, graduate degree preferred. Excellent writing and research skills desired. Candidate should have strong interpersonal skills, be self-motivated, cooperative, and able to work under deadline pressure. Computer literacy and strong attention to detail a must. Starting salary: Negotiable.
Five-step contracted services proposal
You can sway a potential client by writing a short letter pointing out the advantages of contracting with you versus hiring a part-time or full-time employee. This letter is called the contracted services proposal. A contracted services proposal is a pre-contract marketing tool. Your letter will be noticed and thought about when you follow the five steps outlined below. Step 1: Grab attention with three bulleted, one-sentence opening lines related to the problems the potential client is trying to solve by hiring a new grant-savvy employee. Here is an example: • • • Are you looking for grant monies for your nonprofit organization? Are your financial resources limited? Do you lack the time to track down grant funding opportunities?
Step 2: Lead off the first paragraph with your credentials and your consulting abilities. Use some of the buzzwords from the job opening announcement to tie your qualifications with those being sought. Don't forget to write about your excellent research and writing skills and how selfmotivated you are in reaching project deadlines. Here is an example: Your nonprofit can join the numerous local, regional, and national organizations that have contracted for my services and are now reaping the benefits of corporate contributions and federal, state, and foundation monies. I can research, develop, and write your corporate letter request, foundation proposal, federal or state grant application, or that long sought after contract bid document that could take you or your staff dozens of hours to compile. Step 3: Tell the potential client in the second paragraph about the other services you offer besides grant writing. Talk about your ability to conduct funding searches or critique grant proposals written by others. Here is an example: Not quite ready to have my company take over your grant seeking? No problem. I offer several other services that can help your organization get funding. I can teach your staff about grant writing through workshops and one-on-one training, including internships. I can conduct topic and funding searches. But most importantly, I can provide realistic advice about your grant needs. Wouldn't it be great to eliminate the frustration of missed funding opportunities? Step 4: Emphasize your capabilities with two final bulleted sentences on what you can do for the client as a consultant. Here is an example of two strong sentences that say it all: • • I can save you the payroll, overhead, and equipment costs of staffing a grant writing department. I can deliver formatted proposals and other documents, grant applications, and corporate letters ready for signing and mailing with relatively short notice.
Step 5: Close by offering to discuss further your qualifications for grant-related jobs and the advantages of contracting your services. Be sure to include contact information. Print your contracted services proposal on your letterhead, then attach your consulting rate sheet (listing your services and the price range), a one-page resume, and a business card, and you'll be ready to mail your proposal for contracted services.
Note: Emphasize money (payroll and benefits) and time savings first in your contracted services proposal. You may also want to point out these secondary savings areas: equipment purchases, office space for in-house staff, subscriptions to funding publications, professional training, and telephone and travel expenses. Continually pursue contract opportunities When you proactively pursue job openings that include grant-related duties, you'll increase your chances of having a steady flow of paying clients. Every time you mail a nonprofit a contracted services proposal, you're getting the recipient to think about using your services. Even if you don't immediately hear back from the nonprofits, they may send future business your way. Thousands of job opportunities are waiting to be accessed in online and print newspapers and on the Internet. However, it is up to you to read the classified ads and to log onto the Internet and look for potential clients. You have nothing to lose but time and consulting contracts to gain.
Unit 7.5 Summary Today you learned how to search for and develop consulting opportunities using the Internet. You learned about Internet sites that contain dozens of grant consulting job leads. You also learned how valuable the classified advertisements in your local, regional, and national newspapers are when it comes to finding potential clients. Most importantly, you learned how to read an advertisement for a grant-related job opening and transform it from a remote job possibility into a strong business opportunity. Finally, you learned how to develop a five-step contracted services proposal. You discovered that you can send this letter proposal to any employer that advertises for a part-time or full-time employee and expect to win contracting business. In my next lesson, you'll learn how to write contractual agreements between your business and your consulting clients. You'll discover the ins and outs of drafting a contractual agreement that details the services you'll provide and includes key terms and safeguards. Finally, in the next lesson, I'll discuss how to standardize your contract so you can use it for any type of client, and I'll offer advice on how to deal with a client who wants to draw up their own contract.
Unit 8.1 Introduction Every service business, including a grant writing consultant business, needs a well-crafted contractual agreement to protect itself and its clients. The agreement serves as a working plan of action as well as sets down responsibilities and payment terms. Prepare this important paperwork and have it signed prior to working with a prospective client. Do you think it's all right to get started on a paid consulting assignment without insisting the client sign on the dotted line first? Are you afraid your client will decide not to contract with you if they have to sign an agreement? Well, don't think that way! Contracts are standard business protocol that reputable grant writing consultants and their clients willingly sign because they spell out what each expects of the other. My objective for Lesson 8 is to show you how to write contractual agreements. I'll go over basic contract language and the different types of contractual agreements. I'll help you understand the purpose of a contract. Finally, I'll show you how to create a contract template so you can quickly draft a contractual services agreement ready for yours and your client's signatures.
Unit 8.2 Basic Contract Language What is a contract? A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties (you and your client). The core of the contract is a set of mutual promises. The promises you and your client make define the rights and obligations of each party. When should you discuss contract terms with your clients? The first time they inquire about your services, whether the inquiry is by telephone, e-mail, fax, or in person. When the discussion turns to how much you charge, or when can you start the project, tell the client you'd be happy to prepare a contractual services agreement for their review, approval, and signature. Don't start work before you have a signed contract; otherwise, your prospective client will not be liable for paying you for your time. Remember, if you wait until you finish the project to talk money and scope of services, you have no legal recourse if your client refuses to pay. Before creating your first contractual services agreement, familiarize yourself with basic contract law and common contract terms.
Contract law Contracts can be made verbally or in writing. Contracts can be part of an invoice or a purchase order, or they can be drafted as separate documents. Verbal contracts are risky because you or your client's memory or understanding of the scope of services may differ. Also, if a contract is verbal, it may be unenforceable due to a law known as the Statute of Frauds.
Verbal Contracts This federal law states that verbal contracts which cannot be performed within a specified period (such as one year) or which involve more than a specified amount of money (such as $500) are not enforceable. An exception to the statute may arise if one or more parties has partially performed their responsibilities under the contract. However, even if the exception applies, proving that your understanding of a verbal contract is the correct version may be difficult.
Written Contracts Written contracts are enforceable in the courts. If you meet your contractual obligations and your client doesn't pay, your client is in breach of contract. The court will refer to you as the nonbreaching party and will rule you are entitled to collect all compensation due you (your fees) through the courts. NOTE: Your contractual services agreement must be properly written and signed by all parties to hold up in court.
In the United States and most other countries, contract law permits flexibility in setting the terms service contracts. Contracts are recognized as private law created by the agreement between the business and the business's client. The rights and obligations of the business and the business's client are determined by the contract's terms. Of course, the contract's terms are subject to the limits imposed by contract law statutes in the business's state and the state where the client is located.
Common contract terms Contract terms describe conditions you and your client will meet. You need to understand the terms to develop a contractual services agreement. The following are common contract terms used by grant writing consultants.
Part 1: Scope of Services In this section of the contract, you clearly define what you will be doing for your client. It contains information on the specific grant writing or grant-related projects you will complete. The Scope of Services section also contains the Work Plan and the Timeframe for the delivery of contracted services. It is imperative that both you and your client know what the final products of the contract will be.
Work Plan This Scope of Services clause outlines the tasks you'll perform. Before you start writing the Work Plan, carefully answer the following questions. • • • • • • • • • • Will you research funding sources? What types of funding sources will be researched (foundation, corporate, state, or federal grant opportunities)? What is the minimum or maximum number of funding sources you plan to identify? Will you give your clients an opportunity to review the list of funding sources? Will your clients have the authority to remove or add funding sources from your final list? Will you conduct further research on the grant proposal topics? Will you be responsible for identifying program or project models for inclusion in the grant proposal's project design? Will you prepare grant proposals? If so, how many? (Include a maximum and minimum number.) Will you prepare corporate letter requests? If so, how many? (Include a maximum and minimum number.) How will each end product be delivered to the client?
• • • • • • • • • • •
Will you do the final packaging of each document? Will you prepare cover letters and cover forms? Will you print the number of copies required by each funding source? Will you collate and bind grant proposals? Will you type, copy, and add the attachments? Will you prepare the mailing labels? Will you use regular postal service or courier delivery to mail the end products to your clients? What follow-up services are included in the contractual fee? Will you travel to your client's location? If so, who will be responsible for travel expenses? How will you communicate with your client? By fax? telephone? e-mail? express mail? How often? Will you participate in conference calls or videoconferences? How often?
Timeframe Tell your client the number of days it will take to deliver contract products in this Scope of Services clause. State that time to delivery commences when you receive all of the information you need from the client in order to start their consulting projects. Before you start writing the Timeframe, carefully answer the following questions. • • • • • • • • What is the contract start date? What is the contract completion date? What projects will you be responsible for completing and how long will it take you to complete each one? What obstacles could affect completion of the funding search process? Have you built in extra time for possible delays, such as computer problems, Internet access problems, or other business interruptions? Are you working on deadline-driven grant proposals, or can you work at a slower pace? When will you have a review draft of each end product ready for your client to comment on and provide feedback? How long will you give your client for the draft review process?
How long will it take you to finalize the client's projects after you receive requested changes to the draft documents?
Part 2: Contract Payment In this section of the contract, indicate your fee and when and how it is to paid. Before you start writing the Contract Payment section, carefully answer the following questions. • • • Will you charge a flat fee for the entire scope of services, or will you charge different amounts for each type of project in the scope of services? How long is your fee valid? When is the payment due?
NOTE: Some clients issue a purchase orders which can delay the payment process. Many grant writing consultants do not accept purchase orders. They use other payment options to expedite their payments without the hassle of purchase orders. • • How will you accept payment? By check? money order? credit cards? Will you charge a late fee for delinquent payments? (If yes, state in your contract and on your invoices to clients what the fee is.)
Part 3: General Contract Clauses In this section of the contract, you include your policies for the following areas of contract liability. 1. Conflict of Interest – State you will not take competing work. My definition of competing work is that you will not take projects for the same grant writing competitions from the same geographical area. When I write federal grant applications, I will take projects from two clients that are on opposite ends of the country. 2. Contract Exclusions – State what you will not do under the terms of the contract. One of my exclusions is that travel-related expenses are not covered under the contract fee. 3. Cost Statement – State you will not work on commission or contingency or expect any additional payments from the grants funded due to the services you provided while under contract with the client. 4. Liability – State whether or not you carry errors and omissions insurance. I do not carry this type of insurance; however, other types of consultants may carry it, like a financial consultant.
Part 4: Responsibility of the Consultant In this section, state your terms for rewriting projects that were not funded.
Part 5: Responsibility of the Client
In this section, state what the client must do so you can fulfill your part of the agreement. • • • Data Access – State what information you expect the client to provide. Responsiveness – State how and when you expect the client to respond to your requests, calls, and so forth for information. Typing of Attachments – Indicate who will be responsible for typing grant proposal attachments. NOTE: Many grant writing consultants do not type attachments as a part of their contract scope of services. However, most will copy attachments for inclusion in the proposal package. Notification of Funding Requirement – State that the client must notify you when they receive word that a project was funded or rejected. Also state that the client must forward all funding source correspondence to you. Give the client a deadline for forwarding you this information. Explain why you need the information and tell the client what will happen if they fail to keep you updated on funding source correspondence. How will you ever know your true funding success rate if you don't even know which projects have received funding and which have been rejected?
Part 6: General Language of Understanding In this section, cover things not covered in any of the previous contract sections. This section should include language for the following areas: 1. Writing Revisions – State your policy regarding making revisions during and after a project is being written. o o o How many drafts will you allow the client to review? What will you do, if during the draft review process, your client removes your creative wording and replaces it with flat, dry sentences? What will you do if the client requests changes after approving the final draft of the proposal and you have printed the correct number of copies but haven't yet mailed the project to the client? Will you charge the client extra for this inconvenience on your part? Will you bill for the reprinting costs?
2. These are some of the issues you must think about in advance and include additional fees or contract sanctions to prevent their occurrence. 3. Statement of Confidentiality – State your policy for keeping the client's information confidential. 4. Clause of Termination – State under what circumstances you or your client can terminate the contractual services agreement. State how you will refund prepayment for projects not completed, or that the client is responsible for paying you for any work that was completed before contract termination. State how each party must deliver the termination notice. NOTE: Many grant writing consultants require a 30-day written notice delivered by registered mail.
Part 7: Signatory Page In this final section, set up a form with blank lines for you and the client to sign and date the contractual services agreement. Type the name of your company, your name, your title, and date. Type the same signatory information for your client. NOTE: With today's technology, you can legally send and accept faxed or electronically signed contracts.
Unit 8.3 Purpose and Types of Contractual Services Agreements Whether you contract your services to others or hire independent grant writers to work for you, it is essential to put terms and conditions in writing. If you don't, you can lose time discussing everchanging scope of services, money waiting for the other party to feel obligated to pay you, and credibility as a detail-oriented professional. Before a grant writing project comes along, prepare a standard contractual services agreement. You'll modify the agreement according to situation and your experiences dealing with clients.
Purpose of contractual services agreement What is the purpose of a written contractual services agreement? The agreement is the working plan of action between your business and your client. In other words, it is a contract spelling out the responsibilities of each party (your business and the client). Foremost, the agreement is a legal document, signed and dated by each party, signifying concurrence with all contract terms. NOTE: The client won't cut a check for your fee when they sign the contract. You have to prepare an invoice for your services to receive a check.
Legal protection for you and your client's interests Why do you need a written contract? So you're protected in case of contingencies. Suppose your client fails to deliver the information you requested for a project and you miss a grant proposal deadline--through no fault of your own. The client cannot demand their money back if you have fulfilled all conditions of the written contract agreement. Conversely, if you fail to deliver the written scope of services (what you will do for the client), then you are liable to the client for all or a portion of the monies prepaid you.
Types of contractual services agreements Grant writing consultants work under three types of contractual service agreements: short-term, long-term, and on-call.
Short-term agreements You draw up a one- to two-page short-term contractual services agreement when you contract to write one specific grant proposal (or perform one service, such as a funding search) for a client in
a short period. For example, you sign this type of agreement when the client wants you to write a federal grant application--nothing less, nothing more. Short-term agreements are quick to prepare, and when saved as word processor template, can be easily customized for each new job. A short-term agreement does not contain a lengthy scope of services; however, it does contain the other sections that protect yourself, your company, and your client from liability. You'll seldom need to update your short-term agreement.
Long-term agreements A long-term agreement is in order when the client wants you to write multiple projects over a set time, usually one year or longer. For example, you draft one of these agreements when a client contracts you for one year to write foundation and corporate grant proposals for three different programs they operate, as well as one federal grant, provided you are able to identify a grant opportunity for which the client is eligible. You can prepare a long-term agreement template in less than an hour that you can easily customize to meet each client's scope of services. Read your long-term client template often and update language in it as situations occur that may not have been covered in previous contracts.
On-call agreements Draft an on-call agreement when you work on an as-needed basis for a client on a special project. For example, when a client wants you to write a quarterly newsletter or scan the Internet for funding opportunities. Work performed on an as-needed basis is usually billed hourly or per task.
Unit 8.4 Create Your Contract Template You will use your contractual services agreements repeatedly. In order to modify and print contracts quickly and easily for your clients, create templates for the three types of agreements and store them as word processing files. I outline below the contracted services agreement I use for my long-term clients. You're welcome to use my format or create one of your own. Just remember to include comprehensive language to protect your business and ensure you get paid. CONTRACT FOR SERVICES The following represents a contract for services to be delivered by [insert legal name and location (city and state) of your company here] , hereafter referred to as the "Consultant," and [insert legal name and location (city and state) of your client here] hereafter referred to as the "Client."
PART 1: SCOPE OF SERVICES
Grant Proposal Project(s) [Fill in the types of projects you will write grant proposals for here.]
Work Plan [Insert each of the tasks you will complete for clients here.] [Insert your final grant proposal packaging procedures here.] [Underline section title]
Contract Start Date: [Insert your start date here.] Contract Completion Date: [Insert your end date here.] [Insert your draft review process and timeframe here.]
PART 2: CONTRACT PAYMENT Fee: [Insert your fee here.] Fee is valid until: [Insert the last date for which this fee will be valid here.] NOTE: If Client has not contacted with Consultant before this date, the Client will need to call Consultant for a new fee quote.
PART 3: GENERAL CONTRACT CLAUSES Conflict of Interest – [Insert your language here.] Contract Exclusions – [Insert your language here.] Cost Statement – [Insert your language here.] Liability – [Insert your language here.]
PART 4: RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CONSULTANT Rewriting Services – [Insert your language here.]
PART 5: RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CLIENT Data Access – [Insert your language here.] Responsiveness – [Insert your language here.] Typing of Attachments – [Insert your language here.] Notification of Funding Requirement – [Insert your language here.] NOTE: This entire section of the contractual agreement is to strongly encourage Client to be expeditious in their communications with the Consultant.
PART 6: GENERAL LANGUAGE OF UNDERSTANDING Writing Revisions – [Insert your language here.] Statement of Confidentiality – [Insert your language here.] Clause of Termination – [Insert your language here.]
PART 7: SIGNATORY PAGE Consultant: [Type your company name here.]
Signatory for ConsultantTitleDate
[Type your client's name here.]
Signatory for ClientTitleDate
FACSIMILE OR ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES MAY BE USED IN LIEU OF THE ORIGINAL. PLEASE SIGN AND MAIL BACK A COPY OF THIS AGREEMENT. THIS CONTRACT IS ACTIVATED BY PAYMENT OF THE AGREED UPON FEE.
Unit 8.5 Summary Today you learned why it is important to have written contractual services agreements between your company and clients. You learned about basic contract language. You also learned what questions you must ask yourself in order to flesh out the language for each section of your contract. You learned the purpose of a contract and the types of contractual services agreements grant writing consultants use. Finally, you reviewed the outline for a contractual services agreement template that you can create on your word processor. You learned that each section of the template can be customized to cover your own business policies and modified according to contract circumstances. In my next lesson, you'll discover which grant writing consulting projects bring in quick money to your business. I'll discuss the characteristics of quick and easy, no hassle grant writing projects. I'll show you how to suggest fee-based work to clients. Finally, I'll tell you about the projects that pay the most to established, successful grant writing consultants.
Unit 9.1 Introduction No business is truly in business until cash begins to flow into it. But which projects should you take on so your new consulting business gets in the black fast? In this lesson, I'll tell you the most successful ways to start cash flowing into your new business within 90 days. As a grant writer, you already know that there are the easy “piece of cake” projects, and then there are the tedious “like pulling teeth” projects. Which type of projects you take on will depend on your grant writing experience. My objective for Lesson 9 is to tell you which types of projects bring in quick money. I'll break down the types of projects into those that are best for novice grant writers to take on at business start-up and those best handled by veteran grant writers. Finally, I'll give you some pointers on how to make quick money regardless of skill level.
Unit 9.2 Quick and Easy Money Projects for Novices You're a novice grant writer if you've worked in the grant writing field less than one year and are still learning new approaches and taking on low to mid level technical grant proposal writing projects. You're also a novice if you've taken a grant writing course but have no practical experience writing grant proposals. Nonetheless, you are in my course, so you do have a strong desire to become a successful grant writing consultant. As a novice, you should take on consulting projects within your technical grasp. Working beyond your technical ability can lead to frustration and burnout in the first 90 days of business.
Characteristics of can-do projects for novices Can-do projects are easy to contract, easy to start and complete. Most can-do projects can be completed in one or two days. They have no forms to scan or type. Many novice grant writing consultants find that can-do projects, while small in effort, can net weekly fee payments. Even veteran grant writing consultants look forward to contracting quick and easy moneymaking projects.
Can-do projects • have no pressing deadlines. • • • • have no time-consuming forms to be scanned and typed. can be done without numerous meetings and/or telephone conversations with the client. can be done quickly using a computer. can usually be billed within 24 hours of accepting project, if not before the project is started.
Can-do projects you can do Can-do project assignments are enjoyable. You don't have to commit large blocks of time, and rarely do you have to leave your office to complete them. Also, you don't need to pressure prospective clients because the solution services you're offering sell themselves. You'll succeed and prosper in your new consulting business when you offer services on this list.
#1 - Funding searches (Fee range: $500 to $1,000 per project) Many nonprofit organizations know that they need grant monies, but they have no idea where to find grant funding opportunities. You can provide funding search services without subscribing to funding directories or an Internet service provider, although it's more convenient and expeditious if you do have Internet access in your office. The funding directories you need to compile a comprehensive listing of foundation and corporate funding sources for your clients are as handy as the nearest Foundation Center Cooperating Library, where you can use them for free. Photocopy listings of organizations whose interests match your client's needs for inclusion in the search package you'll prepare. You can also find and add state and federal grant funding opportunities to your search package by using the library's Internet terminal. Make printouts of pertinent opportunities for inclusion in the search package.
Package funding searches Get ready for offering funding search services by purchasing a dozen three-ring notebooks, a three-hole punch, and a package of alphabetized index dividers. Clients appreciate receiving a binder containing professionally collated research findings. When you present a client with their search package, you'll be able to collect a check the same day, provided you didn't get a check upfront. The entire process, once you know what projects your client needs grant monies for, will take less than two workdays. NOTE: Many grant writing consultants subscribe to a low-cost online funding directory service to eliminate library trips.
#2 – Corporate letter requests (Fee range: $1,000 to $2,500 per project) Even a novice can win clients by marketing corporate letter request services to clients needing less than $50,000. A quick and easy two- to three-page letter requesting grant monies, donated equipment or services, or technical assistance can be written in less than one hour. The hard part, as you already know, is identifying the hundreds of businesses and industries that will receive a letter request from your client. However, if you hone your Internet skills, you'll be able to quickly retrieve the names, addresses, and contact persons for local, regional, and national letter recipients from free online sites. Soon you'll be able to prepare a corporate letter request and research and identify several hundred letter recipients in less than a week.
Quick return on client investment Once you have information on your client's project, a corporate letter request project requires little outlay aside from your time--just client letterhead and envelopes, Internet access, mailing labels, and printing supplies. The returns, however, are great for you and your client. You get paid right away for a project that takes only days to complete. Your client begins receiving corporate grants (a return on the money, the fee, paid to you) in 180 days or less.
#3 – Foundation grant proposals (Fee range: $1,500 to $3,000)
You'll learn how to write grant proposals faster if you stick to writing foundation grant proposals. Most foundations accept proposals written following either their own application form or a regional or national common grant application format. After you become familiar with the formats, you can produce dozens of grant proposals for your clients in less than 21 days. Do your homework before marketing this service. Research local foundations first, state foundations second, and regional and national foundations last. Find out how to apply for grants from each foundation, as well as who funds what and when they award funds. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can obtain. Many nonprofit organizations don't have the staff time to do the in-depth research and writing that you'll be able to do for them. They'll be open to contracting with you to produce foundation grant proposals.
#4 – Pre-submission peer review (Fee range: $25 to $50 per hour) A quick way to start your business is to offer to review and critique grant proposals written by others. Many nonprofits and businesses that try to write grants and proposals on their own will need your service on a regular basis. Your service will entail a detailed review and comparison of the grant application guidelines against the proposal the client has written. You'll check the technical requirements of the funder, like font size, page limitations, mandatory services, and so forth, and look for variances in the client's proposal. You'll also note weaknesses in the narrative responses and recommend changes to your client. Your feedback will help clients revise their proposals so they win grants. Doing a peer review isn't as onerous as it may seem. It's easier to find the mistakes of others than to find your own. Often you'll be asked to provide a pre-submission peer review on short notice. Though the first job may panic you, you'll soon learn how to read and understand grant application guidelines and scan your client's work for compliance so you can supply a critique within a few days.
Be proactive finding government peer review clients Many grant writing consultants specialize in federal grant review and critique. You can sign up to be a federal peer reviewer by contacting each federal agency by e-mail and asking for the peer reviewer application form. After attending a few federal peer reviews, you will better understand grant applications and the best way to submit responses. This insight will benefit you as a grant writer and as a consultant that conducts pre-submission peer review services. Another way to find peer review clients is to contact state and federal grant agencies and ask for a list of grant applicants whose proposals were not funded. You can even request a copy of a rejected grant application (using a Freedom of Information Act letter request), which will include the agency's peer reviewer comments. Armed with this knowledge you can approach a prospective client with concrete ideas on how you can help them win an award.
#5 – Training (Fee range: $250 to $750 per day) Grant writing workshops are easy to plan and fun to conduct. Nonprofit organizations are always looking for a consultant to come into their offices to train their staff. Like foundation grant proposal
writing and pre-submission peer reviews, workshops are an easy service to sell. Develop outlines for both half-day and full-day workshops. Workshop topics are endless, but here are some suggestions for sessions that are easy for novices to offer: • How to conduct a needs assessment • • • • • • • • Importance of community partnerships in seeking grants Understanding the peer review process How to conduct funding searches How to write basic grant proposals How to write winning goals and objectives Understanding the government grant making process Understanding why proposals get rejected How to plan and write the budget section
After you develop a working outline for the workshops you plan to offer, write the curriculum (handout content) and prepare presentation visuals. You can use slides, transparencies, or a computer-generated presentation. Remember, however, that many conference rooms aren't equipped with the LCD projector you'll need in order to present the workshop from your notebook computer. A simple rule applies to marketing and conducting workshops: Teach others to do what you can already do well.
Unit 9.3 Quick Money Projects for Veteran Grant Writers You're a veteran grant writer if you've worked in the field of grant writing for more than one year. With that much experience, you probably have tackled many types of grant writing projects, from start to finish. As an experienced grant writer, you likely have high income expectations for your consulting business. I want to tell you upfront, for veterans the higher paying quick money projects are those that are technical or more advanced. Hence, I won't be using the word “easy” in this chapter. These are the types of projects that will infuse cash into your grant consulting business quickly. #1 – Federal grant applications (Fee range: $7,500 and up) Yes, I know everyone in our field “hates” federal grant writing projects, but these types of project pay big money. What are the good points about taking on federal grant writing projects?
a. Deadlines are usually less than 45 days. b. Guidelines are clear and direct. c. Everything you need to know is in writing!
d. Forms never change. e. Grant awards are large and look good on your client lists.
Are there any bad points? Yes, the application narratives can range from 20 to 75 pages and the competition is great. I suggest that if you want to write federal grants, you develop a niche by finding one subject area and learning everything you can about it. Get started by signing up to be a federal peer reviewer and make a trip to Washington, DC. The government will pay you a daily stipend for your time and cover your travel-related expenses. Not only will you get the inside scoop on the grant applications that you will write later, but you will also get to know agency personnel on a first name basis. You'll be glad you know a program officer to call and talk with whenever you have a project-related question.
#2 – State government grant applications (Fee range: $7,500 and up) The same advice that I gave you for federal grant applications applies to state government grant applications. What is different?
a. It is difficult to be a peer reviewer. b. Deadlines are less than 30 days. c. Application instructions are often confusing.
d. Rubrics conform with difficult state review criteria for grant applications. Make a connection and win Now you know why you can make as much money writing state government grant applications as you can writing federal grant applications. However, unlike with federal grant applications, do not try to become an expert in any one area of state grant applications. Write across all disciplines and learn everything you can. You'll find there is a lot of quick money to be made writing state grant applications. State agencies are more than willing to give you the names of grant applicants that did not receive funding. They will even go so far as to tell you how bad the applications were and how you can help improve them. Many grant writing consultants receive their first “hand up” from state grant making agencies. You can cultivate a lot of new clients with friends at state grant agencies.
Learn from Unit 2 In Unit 2, I discussed several quick and easy projects suitable for novice grant writers. As a veteran grant writer, you will want to do funding searches, corporate letter requests, foundation grant proposals, pre-submission peer reviews, and training programs to keep your cash flow streaming, too. But keep in mind that the more technical the project is, the more money you will make.
Aim for a long, successful career Veteran grant writing consultants who have succeeded in their field have qualifications other consultants do not.
• • •
10 or more years of grant writing experience High funding success rate (75 percent or higher) Understand the relationship between grant making and politics and know how to work the political field well
If you fit this profile, you can command high fees for the services you provide that other grant writing companies may not be as well qualified to provide. Also, you'll have fewer cash flow worries because the types of projects you can take on are limitless.
Unit 9.4 Quick Money Projects for All Skill Levels Are you thinking there couldn't possibly be any more quick moneymaking projects that grant writing consultants at any skill level can take advantage of? But yes, there are a few types of projects I haven't told you about yet. These projects aren't uncommon; they just don't come to consultants without aggressive marketing.
#1 – IRS 501(c)(3) applications (Fee range: $1,500 to $3,000) Are you shocked? Well, don't be too surprised. The bulk of your work will be in the nonprofit sector. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) receives hundreds of applications for nonprofit determination daily. Many small neighborhood associations or community-based groups, including newly forming churches, cannot fill out these applications on their own. This is where your grant writing consulting business can literally clean up! First, log onto the IRS Web site provided in the Supplementary Materials section of this lesson. Then search for the 501(c)(3) application kit and instructions. What you download or order is enough to scare any small group from applying for nonprofit status with the IRS--even though most of the pages aren't applicable to all organizations.
Create a reusable template Grant writing consultants who regularly write 501(c)(3) applications create templates with their word processing program. The templates allow them to plug in client-specific information as well as use boilerplate (formulaic language) for the Articles of Incorporation and By-laws. With a good template you can turn a 45-page intimidating government application into a lean, clean 20-page finished document.
Easy sell project Clients will readily accept your quoted fee for filling out 501(c)(3) applications. Attorneys fill out the same application for about $5,000 and take more than three months to deliver the final product to their clients. You'll be able to start and finish an application in less than 30 days.
#2 – Bid response proposals (RFPs) for businesses (Fee range: $3,500 and up)
In previous lessons, I discussed marketing your grant writing consulting services to for-profit businesses as well as to nonprofit organizations. All businesses, from small suppliers to major corporations, look for published Requests for Proposals (RFPs) in the legal ads of newspapers across the country. The problem is that no one person in the businesses is assigned full time to researching and writing RFP bid response proposals. You can come in and save the day! You will read bid specifications, give clients your opinion, and write the proposal. Some businesses will contract with you to research RFP opportunities and give them weekly reports. Working in the for-profit sector is very different than working in the nonprofit sector. For-profits will pay you more for doing less. In most cases, writing the RFP bid response will be a lot less work than writing a state agency grant application. Because of proprietary concerns, the client's staff will complete many of the forms. Don't overlook this lucrative opportunity when you're thinking about how to bring in quick money for your new grant writing consulting business.
#3 – Short deadline projects (Fee range: $10,000 and up) You may find this hard to believe, but many grant writing consultants make most of their money by accepting short deadline projects. Think about how preposterous short deadline projects can be. A prospective client calls you on Friday and tells you that they need a grant writer to work day and night over the weekend for a project due on Monday afternoon. Are you game when you get a call like that? Well you should be! The closer the deadline, the more you can charge to complete the project. Did you ever dream that you could make $10,000 in one weekend? (Or that you would have to work around the clock, expending all your energy and using up office supplies, to deliver a project?) Well, you can make that much accepting some short deadline projects. The shortest deadline I ever had was 24 hours. Fortunately, the project was in the same state where I lived and the client sent a staff member to work with me for 18 hours straight. NOTE: Keep your office stocked with supplies in anticipation of short deadline projects. No one will be up at 3 a.m. except you. A home office also is a more comfortable work environment when you have marathon work sessions.
Unit 9.5 Summary Today you learned that successful grant writing consultants know the type of projects to accept that will bring in quick money. You learned that some projects are better suited for novice grant writing consultants with less than one year of experience, while other projects are also suitable for veteran consultants with more than one year of experience. I provided you with examples of quick money projects for novices and for veterans. You learned that novice projects build your knowledge and confidence so you can tackle higher paying technical projects as a veteran grant writer. You found out that the more technical the project and the closer the project's deadline, the more you can charge your client. Finally, you learned that there is quick money to be made by grant writing consultant with any skill level. In my next lesson, you'll discover how to build a reputation as an expert grant writing consultant. You'll learn how others define who is and is not an expert. You'll also learn what steps you need to take to be viewed as a expert in the grant writing field. Finally, in the next lesson, I'll discuss what clients look for when hiring a grant writing consultant.
Unit 10.1 Introduction Do you want to be the grant writing consultant everyone thinks of first when they need a grantrelated answer? Then build your reputation as an expert. Experts possess knowledge about their fields and can demand compensation commensurate with their expertise. The more you know about your topic, the greater your expertise, and the more you will be paid to share this information with others. Don't believe for a minute that you know all there is to know about grant writing and that you are now ready for the big payoff. New information becomes available every second of the day that affects your business. It takes work to reach and stay at the top of the grant writing consulting field. My objective for Lesson 10 is to help you learn how to build a reputation as an expert grant writing consultant. I'll share with you some Internet resources to help you keep abreast of emerging trends. I'll tell you how to exceed your clients' expectations and how to make your skills and services more visible. I will teach you a three-step plan that will help you to (1) expand your knowledge, (2) exceed your clients' expectations, and (3) make your skills and services visible.
Unit 10.2 Step 1 - Expand Your Knowledge An expert is defined as someone who has or displays a special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience. Smart experts are always learning, always expanding their knowledge. Smart grant writing consultants set a goal to continually expand their knowledge and skills. Even when tasks are stacking up in your in-box, set aside some time every week to expand your knowledge. I don't necessarily mean take more grant writing courses. Instead, I'm talking about staying up-to-date on new information in the fields of grant seeking and grant making.
Web walk The Information Superhighway is a valuable route to travel to expert status. Make regular stops on the Internet to arm yourself with new information for current and future projects. Whenever you find a Internet site that contains a variety of demographics, or one with research on one of your project topics, add it to your Web browser's favorite sites list. (Sites will be easier to retrieve if you create separate folders labeled by subject, and then add sites to the appropriate folder.) In addition to adding interesting Internet sites to your favorite sites list, keep a hard copy of the homepage for immediate reference and to file for future reference. Amazingly, you'll be able to remember bits and pieces of everything you read--and will have little difficulty remembering which computer and hardcopy folders to look into for the source. In the Supplementary Materials, I give you a lot of great Web sites to check weekly. Don't try to look at all of these sites now, but keep them handy once you're business is up and running. Before you know it, you'll be offering valuable information to your clients on almost any topic. When you can do this without hesitation, you're on your way to achieving expert status.
Mine nuggets of information Many grant writing consultants that are already in business fail to understand the importance of looking for and learning new information on a regular basis. How do I know? Because every week at least one established grant writing consultant calls or e-mails me to find out why he cannot move his business from a part-time operation to a full-time one. Some callers still have a full-time day job after nearly five years in the grant consulting business. The secret to full-time staying power is to become an expert. You can become an expert by knowing a little bit about a lot. The easiest way to learn nuggets of information is to mine the Internet. Use any of the Internet search engines to find research sites. There are some great public, free-of-charge, Web sites with information on crime, education, the environment, health,
youth, social issues, technology, art, and more. I share my favorite research sites in the Supplementary Material. You will need to visit the research sites at least once a week.
Philanthropy monitoring sites I also use several popular Web sites to monitor the climate of philanthropy. In other words, what moves are funding sources making that will impact the types of organizations they traditionally fund—your prospective and current clients. Look for Web sites such as GuideStar. These kinds of sites will give you the information you need to talk literately with prospective and contracted nonprofit clients about philanthropic issues impacting their day-to-day operations. Remember, these issues are the reasons they need your services. Also, look for Web sites such as The Philanthropy Roundtable. Use sites like this to increase your knowledge about the climate of philanthropy. These kinds of Web sites will help you answer the BIG question from your prospective and contract clients: “Is this a good time to go out and ask for money?” You will definitely be viewed as an expert when you can offer up-to-date advice in this area. These sites are just a few of the Internet stops you need to make on a regular basis. Start with them and add others to expand your knowledge of grant-related topics. If you follow the advice from this chapter, you will be two steps away from reaching your goal of building a reputation as an expert in the field of grant consulting.
Unit 10.3 Step 2 - Exceed Client Expectations The next step on the way to becoming an expert in the field grant consulting is to exceed the expectations of your clients. How can you do that? By always giving your clients more than they expect from you; that is, work over and above the scope of services in your contracts. Answer tough questions with assurance Prospective clients form their opinion of you during your initial conversation. You need to prepare yourself for the battery of questions prospective clients wary of contracting with a new grant writing consultant will ask you. What will they ask? Tough, probing questions like those below that you'll have ready answers for. Q: Why is your fee so high? A: Tell the prospective client how your consulting fees compare with those of other consultants in the community. Justify your fee based on your experience as a grant writer. Also discuss the cost of doing business, including expenses related to delivering final projects. Result: You will be on the road to building credibility from Day 1!
Q: What kinds of grants and organizations have you worked with previously? A: Hand the prospective client a well-proofed and edited portfolio with lists of the organizations you have worked for, the types of grants written, and the outcome for each grant proposal. On the outcome list, include whom the proposal was submitted to, the amount requested, and the amount funded. Don't be afraid to include failures in this list. Result: Honesty in a pre-contract discussion will impress the client and probably lead to a contract!
Q: How long will it take you to complete our projects? A: Hand the prospective client a typed chart showing average project management timeframes. Include estimates of the number of days or months it will take you to accomplish each task of the project. For example:
Prewriting Time: Writing Time: Follow-Up Time: Hrs./ Hrs./ Hrs./ Tasks Tasks Tasks Days Days Days Review Information Prepare Proposal Communications on Project Received Draft For Client With Client
From Client Project Planning
Research Topic Research Funders
Review Incorporate Feedback From Client Prepare Final Copy Prepare Cover Letter Add Attachments Duplicate Proposal Packages For Funders Deliver to Client Review Funder Responses Prepare Phase II Proposal Packages Duplicate Proposal Packages For Funders Deliver to Client
Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client Communications With Client
Research Additional Funders
Result: This credibility builder shows your client that you are well organized and takes you closer to winning a contract! Q: What is your style of writing? (This is a trick question.) A: State that you vary your style based on what the grantor is looking for in the grant guidelines. Result: You'll win the confidence of prospective clients when you show them you know there is no one style of grant writing! How prospective clients view you Prospective clients view you by the way you dress and talk. If you have to meet with a prospective client in person, observe how employees dress for work so you can dress appropriately for your meeting. One way to make your observation and find out more about the prospective client is to go to the client's building and ask for informational brochures about their programs and services. If you use a lot of slang when you talk, practice talking without slang. Record your practice conversation on a tape recorder and play it back several times. You'll hear how you sound to other people. Modify your speech, if necessary, to make it more easily understood and professional sounding. Keep records of conversations If you have a short memory, take a micro tape recorder with you to any in-person meetings with prospective clients. Remember to ask if it is okay to record the discussion. In your office, always have notepads near your telephone. Accurate notes underscore your attention to detail and are appreciated by prospective and contracted clients calling about something that was or was not
discussed. Make sure you date your notes and keep them in the caller's file. Save files on prospective clients for two years. Sometimes it takes that long for your efforts to pay off in the form of a contract. How contracted clients view you If you follow my guidelines, your prospective clients will become your contracted clients. When you sign a contract, you begin building credibility in your client's eyes. The following Golden Rules of Building Credibility come from experienced AND successful grant writing consultants from throughout the country. 1. Deliver every item in the contract's Scope of Services earlier than promised.
2. Deliver projects that are free of errors. Ask someone to proof and edit all of your work. Even draft copies must appear polished and complete.
3. Conduct funding searches in several stages for clients who haven't identified specific funders they want to approach for grant funds. In the first stage identify the “best shots” for funding. Between 45 and 60 days after a client receives rejection letters from uninterested first stage funders, deliver grant proposals to the client for mailing to a second round of funders. Continue to research and identify new funding sources on the Internet daily so you can deliver proposal submissions to the client throughout the entire term of the contract. Providing waves of grant proposals is an “above and beyond” service that makes you an expert!
4. Know when funding sources make their grant award decisions. Forewarn impatient clients that they may not hear from funders, including “best shots,” for a long time (up to one year or more in some cases).
5. Be prepared to dig in and use your detective skills to find out why a grant request was rejected. Help your clients to get answers to their questions--even from elusive grant makers. If you follow the advice in Unit 3, you'll be one step closer to reaching your goal of building a reputation as an expert.
Unit 10.4 Step 3 - Make Your Skills and Services Visible
The final step to making yourself known as an expert in the field of grant consulting is to make your grant writing skills and consulting services visible and keep them visible.
Volunteer your services Stop! Don't get upset with me for telling you to volunteer your services. And yes, throughout this course I have emphasized doing things that make money for your business. The truth is, sooner or later you'll make money by doing everything I tell you to do to achieve business success, including volunteering your services. Approach small community-based nonprofit organizations operating on a shoestring budget or that think they are cash strapped and offer to do a free funding search for them. It takes less than an hour to identify five funding sources, but builds trust and credibility in your business. You can also offer free grant proposal reviews and critiques. One proposal takes less than five hours of your time to review and critique. Often your generosity will not only win you a contract with the recipients of free services but also with other nonprofits. Staff of nonprofit organizations regularly meet, attend conferences together, and share their resources. You can consider giveaways as marketing activities.
Become an unpaid intern Many of the job posting sites I talked about in Lesson 9 carry postings for unpaid grant writing interns. Select some of these opportunities to test the impact of providing free services. Keep track of how long from the time you provide a free service until the nonprofit contacts you about your fees.
Write articles for publication You become widely known as an expert when you write short articles for local, state, and national publications read by nonprofit organizations. Internet and hardcopy publications constantly look for new materials to publish. Try contacting some of the newsletter sites and nonprofit journals mentioned in earlier lessons, as well as those below (use a search engine to find Internet sites), about becoming a contributor. • • • • • • • • Grassroots Fundraising Journal International Journal for Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing Journal of Volunteer Administration Philanthropy Journal Non-Profit Nuts & Bolts Nonprofit Issues The Chronicle of Philanthropy The Nonprofit Times
Since practically none of the publications pay for articles, ask them to include your company name, e-mail address, Web site address, or telephone number at the beginning or end of the article. Sometimes they will request your photograph to attach to the article, too.
Speak at conferences Over the years, many successful grant writing consultants have grown their businesses and earned reputations as experts by speaking at regional and national conferences. If I didn't tell you this before, I'll tell you now: You won't become an expert staying in your own backyard. What do I mean by this statement? People who've known you most of your life won't think of you as an expert. And worse yet, people who know your parents will think of you as little Julie or John. No matter how hard you try, you won't reach expert status by focusing ALL of your credibility efforts in your hometown. You need to look for presentation opportunities outside of your local community. Once you become an expert to outsiders (in other parts of the state or nation), your reputation will flow down to potential clients in your local community. How can you locate speaking opportunities? You can start by using the Internet and your favorite search engine to find “Calls for Presenters” notices. Review each one carefully. Even if the deadline for submitting a presentation proposal has passed, contact the group and ask to be invited to present at next year's conference. Let me show you how to change a few traditional workshop titles around to attract the attention of a wide variety of member-based associations that hold annual conferences. • • • • • • Community Development Society Conference – Submit a proposal for presenting “Attracting Private Sector Funding for Community Development Programs.” National Dropout Prevention Conference – Submit a proposal for presenting “Grant Application Skills for Dropout Prevention Programs.” National Service Learning Conference – Submit a proposal for presenting “Grant Seeking for Service Learning Projects.” Schools To Careers Conference – Submit a proposal for presenting “Winning Grants for Educational Technology and e-Learning.” American Probation and Parole Association Conference – Submit a proposal for presenting “Finding Funding Sources for Community Justice Initiatives.” International Green Building Conference – Submit a proposal for presenting “Corporate Letter Requests for Materials, Recycling, and Waste Reduction Projects.”
Payoff for conference speaking engagements Some conference groups will pay your regular presentation fee and cover your travel-related expenses. They will also make copies of your presentation handouts or slides. Other conference groups will only pay you a small honorarium and cover your travel-related expenses. There will be times when you will travel over a thousand miles for a $100 stipend plus reimbursement of travelrelated expenses.
Why accept low-paying speaking engagements? Because speaking before hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of people legitimizes you as an expert. Audience members will swarm you at the end of your presentation, eager to exchange business cards with you. You will truly be at the top of the expert list when they need a grant writing consultant!
Unit 10.5 Summary
Today you discovered that one of the keys to becoming a successful grant writing consultant is to build a reputation as an expert. You learned that it takes hard work to establish your credibility. You also learned three major steps to take to become an expert. When you expand your knowledge about grant proposal topics and available funding, you are taking the first step. You realized that to take the second step you need to exceed your clients' expectations. Finally, you learned that the last step to building a reputation as an expert is to make your skills and services visible. Grant writing consultants that fail to take these three steps either go out of business or are never able to quit their full-time jobs. In my next lesson, you'll discover how to contract for and manage multiple grant consulting projects. You'll learn how to manage your time and resources in order to successfully complete many tasks and projects on time, while maintaining quality control.
Unit 11.1 Introduction
I know you're worrying about how you're ever going to handle the demands your new business will make on your time and lifestyle. Don't worry; learn to manage your time! Do you think you can manage only one project or client at a time? Are you overwhelmed by the prospect of working on more than one project in a day, a week, or a month? My objective for Lesson 11 is to show you how to manage more than one project at a time so you can become a successful grant writing consultant. I'll help you accurately calculate project timeframes by asking yourself the right questions. I'll tell you how to organize and prioritize your projects. Finally, I'll coach you toward developing work habits that will help you meet deadlines when you're working on multiple projects.
Unit 11.2 Calculate Accurate Project Timeframes
Project management is self-defining for a consultant. You decide how you'll approach a project and how much time you'll spend working on it, while, of course, remembering the importance of meeting deadlines. You'll keep your business afloat and your sanity if you calculate accurate project timeframes.
Forced time management advantages When you work for someone else, you don't have the job flexibility you have as a self-employed grant writing consultant. However, there are some forced advantages for letting your employer manage your time. What am I talking about? As an employee assigned to writing grant proposals, you have set work hours. Most jobs in the field of grant writing are Monday through Friday, so you probably work five days per week and have two days off for personal business. You take work and lunch breaks during specific times. You are given paid time off for holidays and scheduled vacations. These are all forced advantages. Federal and state labor laws mandate that your employer must give you set work hours and scheduled weekly and annual time off; the laws don't apply to the selfemployed. How will you manage your time when you become self-employed? How will you stay focused if there is no one to make you start or stop work?
Before you sign a contract The most important element of project management is accurately calculating the amount of time it will take you to start and complete a project. When you sign contracts with clients, you commit yourself and your business to deliver the stated scope of services in your contracts. In other words, you promise in writing what you will do and when you will deliver the services promised. Suppose a client asks you to write a federal grant application for a local unit of government. The application is due 21 days from the date you sign the contract. Before you sign on the dotted line and collect your money, ask yourself these questions in order to flesh out the scope of the project and decide if you can complete it on time: 1. Is my client required to hold a public meeting and provide proof of the meeting in the grant application attachments? How long will it take my client to advertise and hold a public meeting? Remember, if the client misses this important mandatory requirement for units of government, you cannot proceed with writing the grant application and any timeframe will be useless. 2. Is my client required to have approval from an authorizing body or state agency before proceeding with the grant application process? How long will it be before the agency meets? Will I need to be present? Will this require travel or a telephone conference call? 3. How long will it take my client to give me the information needed to begin writing the grant application? 4. Will my client need to secure memorandums of understanding or agreement, or letters of support? Will I need to write samples for partnering agencies before they agree to write and sign these documents?
5. If my client cannot explain to me the problem that grant funds will solve, how long will I need to research the problem and assimilate the information? 6. If my client's proposed solution to the problem has a weak theory, how long will I need to research model programs and present the findings to my client? 7. If I have to type the biographical sketches onto scanned forms, how long will it take? 8. What other grant application requirements will I need to write and attach? How long will each section take to complete? 9. Will there be sufficient time to give my client a draft review? How much turnaround time can I give my client? 10. How many copies of the completed application does the funding agency require? Can I print the copies in my office or will I need to send it to a commercial printer? Is the printer open on the weekends, and what are their hours and turnaround time for large-scale printing projects? 11. Will the grant application need to be in Washington 2-3 days before the application deadline? What is the protocol at the Application Control Center? Will I need to advise my client to use regular mail or courier-delivered mail? Is the grant application due on Monday? If so, when do I need to wrap up the project for a Monday deadline?
Make an honest commitment Now you're probably wondering how you can possibly get the federal grant writing project done in less than 21 days. Well, you can, provided you have no other project or personal commitments, and if you work days and nights, weekends and holidays to complete it. If you can't make such a big commitment, don't sign on the dotted line. Whatever you do, don't make promises verbally or in writing that you won't be able to keep. Broken promises can cause your grant consulting business to fail. Knowing and meeting a project timeframe that you calculated demonstrates you have project management skills that you can extend to multiple projects.
Unit 11.3 Organize and Prioritize
If you want to run your projects instead of your projects running you, you need to organize and prioritize them.
First, organize your project files Use a desktop sorter or file organizer to track projects chronologically. For each grant writing project for a client, create a file folder and put the client's name on the tab. On the front of the folder, write the name of the project and date promised in your contract's scope of services. Put your notes on the project as well as research into the folders. Arrange the file folders in your organizer by due date. Separate the months with pieces of paper or empty file folders labeled with the names of the months. Now you can see in an instant the number of projects you have due in any given month. My file sorter has four months of projects in chronological order. I keep my file sorter at eye level right next to my business telephone. Whenever I receive a call from a prospective client for a project that has a close deadline, I'm able to check at a glance my workload for the month before the pending project is due as well as the month that the project is due.
Second, prioritize your projects This may surprise you, but the due date does not determine a project's priority level. The amount of work required on your part to complete the project determines its priority level. For example, let's say that you have two projects due in the next 15 days. One of the projects is to write one corporate letter proposal that will be sent to 20 local businesses on behalf of your client. You will need time to research the names and addresses of the letter recipients. You will also need time to write the letter, edit and proof it, and provide your client with a draft review. Then you will need time to print the letters, prepare the attachments, type mailing labels, and assemble the final letter packages for delivery to your client. The second project is a grant proposal to a local community foundation. You will have to prepare the proposal using a specialized grant application format and add attachments. The community foundation will need 18 sets of the final grant proposal package. Before you determine which project you will give top priority, ask yourself the following questions: 1. Which of these projects can I start immediately? Do I have all the information and other materials I requested from the clients, including current letterhead, for both projects? 2. How long will it take to find contact and financial information on the 20 local businesses? 3. How many people will be reviewing the drafts? How much time will the reviewer or review teams need before they will be able to give me their feedback? Remember, team reviews take a lot longer than an individual review. 4. Are key staff going to be out of their offices around the time the project is due? If so, how early do I need to have the project completed in order to obtain their signatures before mailing? You may need to sign on behalf of your client and mail directly from your office.
So far, all of the questions that I have you ask yourself are client-related. However, you need to ask even more questions--this time about your own time management abilities. 1. What else is in my chronologically ordered project folder files for the next 15 days? Do I have meetings to attend that cannot be canceled?
2. Do I have personal appointments that will need to be canceled?
3. Will I be able to devote the time needed to complete two projects in 15 days?
4. What barriers to meeting the deadlines do I have control over?
5. What barriers to meeting the deadlines don't I have control over? Only after answering all of these questions will you be able to decide which project to give priority, or if you even feel capable of managing more than one project at a time.
Unit 11.4 Develop Good Work Habits Good work habits are essential to good project management. They involve the ability to work unsupervised and plan ahead to meet project schedule demands; the ability to prioritize projects and to handle multiple tasks that have strict deadlines; and a willingness to work weekends and evenings. Experienced and successful grant writing consultants, including myself, are able to manage multiple projects because we have good work habits. The best way to avoid business failure is to practice all of the following good work habits. • Establish set work hours and workdays. Stick to your work schedule no matter how tempting it is to do things unrelated to business. (The temptations are many when you work out of a home office.) Establish set break times. If you're typing a lot on your keyboard, stop for 10 minutes every hour and exercise your wrists. Get up and walk around, stretch, and step outside for some fresh air. Bring the outdoors into your office. Work with the windows open when the weather permits, and keep the blinds open during the daytime. Sunlight is invigorating; fresh air is stimulating. Both will boost your attitude. Set daily project work goals. I created Bev's To-Do List on my word processor. I enter five tasks for the day into five ample rows. I write notes in the space at the bottom of the list. I never exceed the five tasks on my daily to-do list. The first task on my list is always 15 minutes of marketing. The four open task spaces are for project-related work. Five tasks are an achievable daily workload. I fill in the next day's sheet the night before. It is the last thing I do before I turn off my office lights and officially close down. Stay focused on the big picture--your reputation as a grant writing consultant--when completing projects and performing such routine tasks as marketing, making client callbacks, and stocking up on office supplies. Avoid the “activity trap.” Don't let your workload get out of hand, this will cause you to be overwhelmed. Prioritize your project workload into activities you can complete within a day or two. Streamline your desktop paperwork. Organize and prioritize client and business-related paperwork and files. Set aside one day a week to file completed projects and organize your client's file boxes. I suggest you use banker boxes for each client's records and project files. Screen your incoming telephone calls. Do not take calls during your established work hours from telemarketers, sales persons, or anyone other than clients.
• • •
Minimize family, friend, and neighbor interruptions. Tell everyone your work hours and when you will be off of work and available. Get enough rest to avoid work stress that can hinder your productivity. When I say yes to too many projects, I work for 10 hours straight (with hourly breaks) and sleep for 10 hours straight. Rest is the secret to a fresh mind. This schedule leaves me four hours for personal tasks. Take a runaway day between large-scale projects. At least twice a month, I just walk out of my home office and drive away for a fun-filled runaway day. In case you wonder, I work seven days per week on client projects and teaching. I treasure these two days. Sometimes I take them together; most often I take them separately. Refuse work when you can't possibly take on another project. Refuse work when you know you won't be able to meet the project deadline. Break up your writing project workload with other types of grant consulting projects, like one-day workshop presentations or pre-submission peer review projects. Keep track of your time each day. Keep a running list of how your time is used . . . and how it is wasted. Make an effort to eliminate the waste. Be honest with your clients. If you find that you won't be able to deliver something to a client that has been promised, call the client immediately and tell the truth. Ask for an extension and keep your word on the next due date. Practice the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want them to treat you.
• • • • •
According to behavioral scientists, it takes 21 days to develop a habit. Practice my suggested work habits for a minimum of 21 workdays and you'll take control of your time and build selfdisciplined work habits that will make you a successful grant writing consultant.
Unit 11.5 Summary Today you discovered that one of the keys to becoming a successful grant writing consultant is to know how to manage multiple projects. You learned that a grant writing consultant must continuously balance work time and personal time. You learned how to calculate accurate project timeframes. You also learned that good project management means you must estimate within days the actual time you think it will take you to finish a specific task in the contract's scope of services. You found that with good organizational and time management skills, you can run the project instead of letting it run you. Finally, you learned how to develop good work habits. Using tips from experienced and successful grant writing consultants, you learned how to manage each task on a daily basis. You also learned that you need to work, rest, and play in order to approach your consulting projects with a positive attitude.
In my next lesson, you'll discover how and when to expand your business. You'll learn how to recognize business growth signs and plan for an achievable expansion. I'll also discuss the steps to successful business growth, including when to hire others to help with your project workloads.
Unit 12.1 Introduction This is your last lesson. I am so excited about your future as a grant writing consultant! By now, your mind is racing and your Adrenaline is high. Well, it should be, you have come a long way. In this final lesson, I urge you to start thinking about the outcome of your hard work—business growth. Unanticipated growth pushes many businesses, large and small, into expanding without the proactive planning essential for their survival. You can channel your business's growth in the right direction if you recognize when and how to expand it. Do you think you won't ever have enough business to worry about adding staff, opening a second office, or taking on more types of projects? Well one day you may be surprised to realize your business blossomed while you were applying your new knowledge about becoming a successful grant writing consultant. My objective for Lesson 12 is to help you recognize the signs of business growth. I'll tell you what steps to take before planning for business expansion. Finally, I'll show you some strategic planning steps that will help you stay on top of small business trends.
Unit 12.2 Signs of Business Growth Remember how carefully you considered the idea of becoming self-employed by starting your own business? Then you made a conscious decision to enroll in my online course and learn how to become a grant writing consultant. For nearly six weeks, you have been preparing for the day you will start your new business. As a new business owner, your aim is to make your venture succeed. Business growth is the measure of success, as well as the indicator of whether expansion is in order. In this chapter, I clue you about your importance, signs of business growth, and what to consider before expanding.
Impact of personal growth on your business The successful growth of a business is reflected in the personal growth of the entrepreneur behind the business idea--that's you! Everything you read, hear, and do in the course of starting and maintaining your business results in your personal and professional growth. Every workday you will make decisions, place and receive marketing and client telephone calls, conduct research and manage information, and, of course, write grant projects. Each activity will strengthen your knowledge so you'll be able to handle those things that caused you to struggle during business start-up. The more you absorb, the more you will grow in all aspects of your life, and the more able you'll be to control your business's direction.
Directions mature businesses take As your business matures, it will head toward one of two directions. Your business will either decline, wither, and die--you'll go out of business for failing to have foresight--or it will increase, blossom, and birth new services. The direction your business takes depends on you. You are the business.
Growth signs to monitor Your ability to recognize signs that your business is growing is critical to managing its growth and transition into another level of successful operation. I failed to recognize some of the growth signs when I was a new business owner. Below I review growth symptoms, possible causes, suggested corrective actions, and desired outcomes, along with my reflections, so you will know what to monitor in your business.
Symptom: Working day and night. Possible causes: Poor time management or fees are set too low. Corrective actions: Increase service delivery timeframes for projects and/or increase consulting fees.
Desired outcomes: Reduced work hours and/or increased income. Reflections: Not all business growth is good growth. When you set your fees too low, you will be swamped with new clients. However, your rush to deposit their checks can overshadow what is really happening to you and your business. Too much too soon means your fees are too low, especially if the sudden influx of work is more than you can complete on time during standard work hours. Your working day and night can also be a sign of mismanaged work time. In this event, you need to revisit the way you are prioritizing projects. Working day and night is a bad form of business growth.
Symptom: Running out of office supplies. Possible causes: Miscalculating monthly office supply needs or running short on cash needed to purchase higher quantity of office supplies. Corrective actions: At the end of each month, look at your desktop project management folders to determine the volume of writing you will be doing in the next month. Determine how many black and color print cartridges you will need; then purchase one extra of each. Also look at your inventory of copy paper. Remember, you use copy paper for printing all of your projects, as well as making copies and filling the paper tray in your facsimile machine. Order one case (10 reams) of paper at a time. Look at everything else in your supply drawer or closet and make a list of what you use frequently that is running low. Once a month go to your nearest office supply store or place a catalog order online or by fax or phone for supplies. If you order from a catalog, take into account how long it will take for delivery to your door. If a cash shortage is the problem, use a credit card with a 30-day grace period (the bill is due in 30 days) or a supplier whose invoices aren't due on receipt. Then aggressively work to increase your income in future months to alleviate cash shortage problems. Desired outcomes: Reduced downtimes for printing, copying, and packaging client projects. Reflections: When your client contracts a project with you and you cannot deliver it, you are at fault and your reputation suffers. You look incompetent if you cannot fax a draft copy of the project because your facsimile machine needs an ink cartridge. You look incompetent if you have to mail a draft copy printed on the back of scrap paper because you failed to stock enough copy paper. You will feel foolish, when in the middle of the night (on one of those rush projects), you run out of ink in your printer and you don't have any more cartridges on hand. Don't set your business up for failure by letting frustrating, demoralizing problems go unfixed. And definitely don't decide to take on more clients or expand your business until they are resolved.
Make your business succeed How can you make your new business succeed? By recognizing signs of business growth and by visioning your perpetual survival as a grant writing consultant. I want to share some tips with you from successful grant writing consultants.
• • • • • • •
Know the health of your business every day. Monitor your business budget and project workloads. Plan for slow months and celebrate high revenue months. Purchase office supplies and equipment efficiently. Buy in volume, but don't overbuy or upgrade needlessly. Read your marketing plan, update it, and follow it monthly. Don't skimp on time or other resources when it comes to delivering quality projects to your clients. Ask clients how you can improve your services. Don't add staff, telephone lines, or services until you thoroughly examine your physical and fiscal capacity to handle higher volumes of business. Don't ever lose the vision that you have the day you start your business. Continually ask yourself, “Why am I doing this for a living? What do I want from my business? What do I want to be professionally and financially in a year, five years, or ten years from now?”
Ten golden rules for success 1. If you don't know something, ask someone with successful business experience. 2. Evaluate your financial situation before committing dollars. 3. Plan carefully to save half the time and double your chance of success. 4. Talk to anyone and everyone that will listen about your intentions to grow your business. These contacts may help you achieve your goals. 5. If you sense disaster, go with your intuition. 6. Move slowly in decision making; touch all bases. 7. Make the most of your talents, skills, and organization. These three attributes bear on the your business's success. 8. Walk away from failed opportunities, but determine how you can change your approach in similar situations to alter the outcome. 9. Don't jeopardize your reputation. Once your name is tarnished, you will have a hard time restoring confidence in your clients and colleagues. 10. Treat every situation as unique. Let every encounter bring a fresh opportunity for business success.
Unit 12.3 Plan for Business Expansion
You can confidently decide to expand your business when three things happen: 1. You have $2,000 or more left over every month after the bills are paid.
2. You are able to project monthly income for at least four months based on pending contracts (signed and waiting for payment) and/or you have guaranteed future income from workshop bookings or publications.
3. You have a good handle on your project workload. You can do all of your work in less than five days per week working eight or fewer hours per day. After deciding to expand your grant writing consulting business, prepare for the many changes that will occur. Examine all areas of business operations. Look at your original goals for your business and set new goals. If one of your original business goals was to double your former work salary by the end of the first year in business, did you meet this goal? Did you exceed this goal? If your goal was to provide services to 12 clients (one per month) during the first year in business, did you meet this goal? Did you exceed this goal? Look at your funding success rate as a grant writing consultant. Did you start your new business with a goal of achieving a 25 percent funding success rate? Did you reach or exceed this goal? (Lesson 5 explains how to calculate your funding success rate.) When your business meets planned goals, it is a successful operation ready for expansion. You can begin planning for this important move. If you did not achieve your original goals, do not expand. Go back and examine what stopped you from reaching each of your business start-up goals. Plan corrective actions, but do not proceed with any expansion. Steps to take before planning business expansion.
Step 1: Look at the economy A good time to expand your business operations is when the economy is either stable or growing. Signs of good economic health are long-term increases in the stock market, high interest rates on investments, and new business openings. Signs of poor economic health are declines in the stock market, lowered interest rates (this is a tool for fueling the economy when it is in a slump), and business closures or bankruptcies.
Step 2: Look at your cash flow A good time to expand your business operations is when your cash flow is constant, revenues exceed expenses, and you can project your income for more than 120 days, or four months.
NOTE: For other types of businesses, cash projections will be farther out, perhaps six months or one year. However, for the service sector, specifically consulting, industry trends show that 60 to 120 days of known income is sufficient. Don't plan a business expansion if you don't know when you'll be able to write your next paycheck or how you'll manage to pay the bills this month or next month.
Step 3: Look at your management skills Yes, you probably successfully manage your business operations, but can you manage other people? When my business grew, I expanded it without the benefit of the knowledge that I'm sharing with you. I found out through experience, rather than self-analysis, that I don't like managing people. I am great with projects and clients; I am terrible at getting others to grasp my business visions and develop their own ideas for new business and project quality improvement. You can still expand your business if you prefer to work alone; just hire a virtual assistant or a contracted grant writer in another geographic location to handle your excess work. Are you ready to expand your business? Whether you answer yes or no, you still need to develop a strategic plan for your business.
Unit 12.4 Create a Strategic Plan
Strategic planning is a management tool used by all types of businesses to help them do a better job, to focus their energy, and to ensure that they are working toward their goals. There are two types of strategic plans. The first is called simply a strategic plan. It is intended to guide business operations for a short period, like one year. The second type of strategic plan is called a longrange strategic plan. This type of plan is intended to guide a business for several years. In this chapter, I help you write a strategic plan--the roadmap leading your business to success in a short timeframe.
Steps to strategic planning Planning can make the difference between your business prospering or failing. If you want your business to survive and prosper, take time during the planning phase to identify the niches in which you are most likely to succeed and the resources you'll need. Use your findings as the basis for your strategic plan.
Step 1: Create a mission statement A mission statement is your vision for your business put in writing. It describes the imaginary situation you are trying to make real. It's your business's ultimate destination, its long-term goal. The statement reflects the types of services you offer, who your clients are, and what you want others to think of when they read about your business. The number one rule for creating a mission statement is to make it concise. If you can't remember your mission statement without looking it up, it is too long! My company's mission statement is short and keeps me focused: Reaching for the Stars! I want my clients to see that my services are unlimited--like the skies. I want my prospective clients to know that I will work beyond the local area--like the entire planet! I want others to think that I am limitless--like the spans of our galaxy!
Step 2: Create goals and objectives Goals and objectives are the outcomes and measurable benchmarks that guide you toward reaching your mission. You update them annually. The goals must be achievable and realistic. The objectives must be specific and measurable and include a timeframe. Does this sound familiar? As a grant writer, you already know how to write global goals and measurable objectives, now you need to write them for your business. • • Goal example: Develop curriculum for new grant writing workshop. Objective example: Complete 100 percent of training curriculum for novice grant writers by the end of the fourth quarter this year.
Step 3: Create an action plan An action plan is a list of tasks that move you toward your goals and objectives. Just like your todo lists for client projects, you plan and execute each task, then check it off as done. When you check off one task, add a new one in its place. Action plan task list example:
Research training topics ____ Select most appropriate materials for beginning grant writers ____ Create workshop outline ____ Develop a learning outcomes sheet for interested sponsors ____ Decide my fee for half-day and full-day workshop sessions ____ Create promotional language for site-host advertising ____ Book two workshops for next year by end of second quarter ____ Add booked workshops to my Web site ____ Create handouts ____ Create PowerPoint slide presentation ____ Create participant pre- and post-evaluation forms ____ Book two more workshops for next year by end of third quarter ____ Add booked workshops to my Web site ____ Proof and edit all materials and send to printer by end of fourth quarter ____ Mail master workshop handouts to site hosts for duplication ____ Arrange for air travel and lodging accommodations ____ Launch workshop tours ____
Unit 12.5 Summary
Today you discovered that one of the ways to become a successful grant writing consultant is to know when and how to expand your business. You learned how to recognize and respond to signs of business growth. You learned the ten golden rules for success. You found out that seeking and accepting the counsel of others is critical for business success. You also learned that a calculated three-step effort where you look at the economy, your cash flow, and your management skills comes before you plan for business expansion. Finally, you learned the steps to creating a strategic plan. You discovered a strategic plan is similar to a grant narrative in that it includes a mission statement, goals and objectives, and action plan. In my course, I covered the most important business start-up and management matters related to becoming a grant writing consultant. I discussed what a grant writing consultant does, where to find resources, and how to set up your office, build credibility, set client fees, market your services, and develop consulting leads. I also taught you how to write contractual agreements, identify projects that will bring in quick money, build your reputation as an expert, manage multiple projects, and grow your business. Congratulations! I am so proud of you. You have completed all 12 lessons of Becoming a Grant Writing Consultant. I enjoyed having you in my course and I look forward to sharing my skills with you in other online courses.
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