Confessions of a Grant Consultant
I've had the privilege to write millions of dollars in funding and more in the form of in-kind collaborations with government agencies, schools, higher education, and religious organizations.
When I first launched my consulting agency, my clients saw dollar signs --they wanted me to take a winning "template" and apply it to their organization in order to create another winning proposal. The more grants I began to write, however, the more I realized that some of these organizations were not prepared structurally to successfully sustain the proposals I was writing.
As an organizational development professional, I began to assess their ability to actually perform what they were asking me to write in the proposal. I developed metrics to assess and measure effectiveness and brought accountability to the pie-in-the-sky hopes that my clients had. In this process, I lost some of them because they wanted to win and worry about the accountability and assessments later. They didn't want a proposal that fit their mission and goals, they wanted the money, and were willing to do whatever it took, including changing their purpose and mission, in order to fit the request for proposal.
I was at a crossroads. Ultimately, I determined that I would only accept requests from organizations that were passionate about their mission, and were interested in doing what they do better. These organizations would be willing to learn how to look at themselves objectively, assessing what was possible for them at the time rather than what they hoped they could do.
Together with them, I was able to create programs that were sustainable, impactful, and transformational to the communities served and the organizations themselves. I worked with every team that would be impacted by the proposal to ensure a healthy transition from funding to reporting their successes to the funding sources. My most meaningful work was preparing the organizations to run their program effectively, at all levels.
Quality is far more important than quantity--more meaningful and fulfilling.
Keyla Kirton will be teaching an online series for organizations.