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The field of virtual assisting offers a wide variety of services to business owners. Most virtual assistants offer administrative services along with a specific area of expertise or niche– as it is most often referred to. Some of the specialties that are offered by VA’s include but are not limited to social media, real estate also known as a REVA and accounting. However, there are other skills that can be profitable for VA’s; one in particular is grant writing.
While working towards completing a master’s degree in the field of Public Administration I had the opportunity to take a course in grants and grants management. I really enjoyed the class and thought that I would be able to take advantage of the skills I learned after completing my degree. Although, I enjoyed the class tremendously, I didn’t realize at the time how valuable the skills would be for me in the future. You too may have knowledge in grant writing that you acquired in a classroom; however, turning that knowledge into application requires communication, research, organization and time management and skills.
Communication is one of the fundamentals in running a virtual assistant practice, because most of our contact with clients comes through email and phone conversations. It becomes even more pronounced when it is needed to paint a picture of the necessity for a financial resource. Communication in grant writing can be two-fold, as it not only relates to communicating a need on paper; but, in also asking the client the right questions (who, what, when, where and why) to support the story for that need. You don’t have to be in the same locale as you client to create a proposal for them; but, you do need to communicate as if you were.
Another word for grant writing is RESEARCH, RESARCH, and RESEARCH. Whether you write romance, fiction, editorials or grants — research is the first thing you should do before you put pen to paper. As previously stated, before you can ever begin to express your ideas effectively, you need to ask the right questions to get the right answers. If you are not knowledgeable of your topic, how can you ever begin to communicate effectively on paper a position? As a grant writer many of the topics that are presented to you to create a proposal you will have no familiarity with beforehand. Researching will always give you the answers to your questions.
Organization of ideas, information and resources is the key. There are many components to a grant proposal; executive summary, statement of need, project description and budget, organizational information, conclusion and evaluation/outcomes. When you begin your research you need to begin to look at each of these areas separately. Once your research is complete, you need to collect all of the thoughts and information you have obtained and pair them with the section of the grant that they relate to. Organizing in this way maybe a very time consuming task but will provide a smooth transition from research to writing.
Finally, considering all the skills we have discussed time management will increase your productivity. Wikipedia refers to time management as, “a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals.” There are many demands that will be placed on you, two that will be at the top of your list are; meeting the deadline for submission of the grant application and submitting the grant to the client for their review prior to the submission deadline. It is important to mention that Request For Proposals or RFPs, as they are often called, are often released on a specific dates, with a deadline that can range from 30 days from the date it was released or it could be an application that accepts applications on a rolling basis. Effectively managing your time will enable you to take advantage of multiple opportunities to submit RFPs, for your client with different sponsors and other clients that you may be writing grants for simultaneously.
As a virtual grant writer it is important to remember each of these skills and one is no more important than the other. Each skill if used adequately, will allow you to create an atmosphere that is constructive for you and provides your client with the comfort in knowing they have the right person for the job. Becoming a successful grant writer is a process that will not happen overnight, but if you are consistent in your approach you will eventually win the right funding for your client.
Cathryn T. Branch, is the owner of Attentive Assistance, LLC a virtual assistance company that offers administrative assistance to small businesses and specializes in grant writing/management. http://www.attentiveassistance.org
Copyright 2009 Cathryn Branch All rights reserved.