I've been working as a consultant in capacity building and strategic planning on retainer, and occasionally do some grant writing. A very marginal organization was referred to me because they thought they needed a grant writer.
It took two weeks before we could finally talk because they couldn't get it together, which was 2 weeks of grant writing time lost. After we did talk I reviewed the opportunity and found that a) it could not be used for their intended purpose, and b) they were very unlikely to get it, because almost a 3rd of the scoring would be based on past success, of which they had none.
Ultimately i said I could not do it, because I thought they couldn't have a successful application, and I didn't really have the time to support them in program planning anyway.
They came back with another, easier, opportunity. But it still would require a ton of information from them. And because of their org budget, I knew there was no way they could afford my top rate. and probably could just cover my lowest grant rate (for simple foundation requests).
So I offered that if they could take a first pass at the request I would volunteer 1 – 2 hours to review, edit and make suggestions to make it more competitive.
They came back with a draft which I worked on, and went back to say that in the section that asked about demographics of target population they just kept saying "we will serve anyone, we do not discriminate". I pointed out that this is not really answering the question, and their request would be much stronger if they could describe who will benefit from their programs.
In the end they came back saying they would not provide that because they wanted to focus on the community, whatever that means.
I have to say at that point I was REALLY GLAD I was only volunteering a couple of hours.
If I were being paid I'd have had an ethical obligation to push harder on better answering the question. Instead I felt fine making my first recommendation and leaving it in their hands.
They're well intended and despite my better judgment I like them. But just the same, it paid to not get paid.
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