A non-profit business pursuing a grant from the federal government needs to understand the technical requirements and standards expected by the government in all applications. The application often has to go through a long bureaucratic process which involves multiple forms and lots of declaration-signing as well as certifications. Every piece of document, every word and every number included is held to a standard of truth and accuracy under federal law. As a result, if a business represents itself in the wrong way in the application, it can trigger penalties and legal problems against the business as well as the individuals who signed the document. Applying for a grant is not a kid’s walk in the park; it’s a very serious matter. So hiring a ghostwriter for a grant who understands the technical level involved, as well as the risk, is just as important.
Outsourcing grant writing is common for businesses who don’t have the expertise or time for the government paperwork. However, to hire a ghostwriter for a grant application means looking for certain things when hiring:
- A full comprehension of grant regulations – Competent federal grant writers have a full technical understanding of the applicable federal regulations that apply to grants. For applications this includes OMB Circular A-102, which defines how grant agreements work. Additionally, there are contracting and financial rules that apply. For non-profit businesses, they are listed under A-122. For state and local government agencies, the rules were under A-87 but are now codified under 2 CFR 225. For schools, they have their own rule set under A-21. The audit rules that apply are under yet a different section titled A-133. A grantwriter should know these sections well.
- Competency in technical writing – A grantwriter needs to be able to produce grant documents that are to the point and concise. Verbosity doesn’t work well and turns off grant reviewers quickly. A competent writer will be able to show samples of his work, and those should be examined for clarity, a good explanation of how the grant recipient will meet goals, and a good understanding of the applicable federal rules and deadlines that apply.
- Reliability throughout the process – Successful grant applications are often rewritten to match the interests of the federal agency involved for their own reviewers. Then the related grant agreement has to be drafted as well. A viable grantwriter will be available and can be relied on for the whole process, not just the initial grant document. This allows a business to use a writer from beginning to end without have to re-educate a second writer.
Finally, one of the most important qualities in a grantwriter is one who knows how not to overcommit an applicant in writing. Often, non-profits are jammed by grant deadlines and leave themselves little time for review from draft to submission. The grantwriter needs to be experienced enough not to promise the world. Granted, the non-profit should be reviewing what it’s signing, but things get missed. The grantwriter needs to have enough industry experience to know what shouldn’t be written in a grant application. A general writer won’t necessarily have this depth, so a non-profit business needs to be careful who it hires by confirming specific industry experience, federal grant experience, and sample work being provided.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.