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Alyssa Hanada

About Alyssa

Staff Grant Writer vs. Contract Grant Writer: The Ups and Downs of Each

I have to admit I was never a big fan of working the standard eight to five and reporting to someone. Growing up with an independent mom who had her own business always inspired me. So when I found a career path that would allow me to be my own boss, make my own hours and choose the agencies I wanted to work with, it sounded like a dream!

Of course, life as a consultant is not always easy. It requires staying on task (which can be difficult if you work from home and see that pile of laundry!), strong communication with clients and being a professional organizer!

I’ve worked both as an in-house grant writer and as a grant-writing consultant and there are definitely pros/cons to both scenarios:


Staff Grant Writer
Contract Grant Writer/Consultant
You can ask the program people whenever you need information by going directly to their office!
You have to rely on email and phone calls (unless you’re close enough to physically drive over and bug them if necessary!).
If on-site where programs take place, you can peek in to get quotes/stories and stay refreshed.
You must to rely on the “eyes and ears” of the agency and visit (if possible).
You get to know the ins and outs of the agency/field you work for.
You get to learn about different causes and share your experiences and growth with clients.
In a complex, large organization such as a hospital or a university with numerous grants, reports and meetings, it often makes sense to have a grant writer in-house to develop the grants and manage the process.
Large agencies with a staff grant writer or manager can benefit from a contract grant writer who provides extra help. Especially  if the staff person is caught up in a major campaign or federal grants. However, you will not be familiar with ongoing grant processes.
If an agency (small or large) has little grant writing needs and primarily raises funds through individuals, program fees or another method, it’s probably best to have a staff development position that spends a portion of time on grant development.
For smaller agencies, it often makes sense (and cents!) to have you (a consultant) work with them to develop the grants, reports and even manage the grants process.
You get to constantly hear from colleagues/management about new programs that need funding.
You have to manage multiple clients and deadlines.
It’s easy for you to get into the habit of using boilerplate proposals and jargon.
You offer a fresh take and an outsider’s perspective.
Everyone is there to share your excitement of getting a proposal funded!
Acknowledgement can be sparse, but when it comes, hold onto it!
Camaraderie of colleagues and sharing ideas will help energize you.
No more interoffice politics and long staff meetings that go on and on without much relevance to your work to consume your time.
Hard times can mean wage freezes and cuts in benefits for you.
You get to choose your rates — but watch out for those pesky taxes! And sorry, vacation time and benefits are not included.
You’ll get your paycheck on time!
You’re just another bill, so if it’s a few days or weeks late it’s not a big deal, right?
You generally know your job is secure.
You can work in your pajamas, start at 10 a.m. and take a day off without needing to get it approved, but sometimes it’s unstable.



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