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In my last article, I presented what I believe to be the fundamentals of becoming a virtual grant writer – communication, research, organization and time management. This month we’ll delve more deeply into the skill of communication.
Wikipedia defines communication as the process of transforming information from one entity to another. So how does this transformation occur? The transformation can take place from one-on-one interaction to one individual giving a speech or lecture to hundreds of people. Communication involves sharing information, thoughts and ideas, and having them received by another.
Grant writing requires that all parties involved from the grant writer, the agency needing the funds and the sponsor (the organization providing the resource) be actively engaged in the grant writing process from beginning to end. Although the communication between all parties is necessary at some point, the proposal cannot be completed without active interaction between the virtual grant writer and their client.
In this case communication involves a series of questions that allows the VA to, as I like to call it “get to know your client.” In order to formulate a “relationship” with your client you should be able to complete the following questions – Who, What, When, Where and Why?
Who is your client? When you begin the process of creating a proposal it is important to learn all you can about your client. In the beginning there should be, for lack of a better term, sort of a “courtship” where you get to know with whom you are partnering. The more you know, the better off you will be – know the history, present and future of your client. This will prepare you to write as an insider and not simply someone who put information down on paper about a program about which you really know nothing.
What do they do? Ask about the services that their program will provide. Find out what may be different about their program or set them apart from another organization that does the same thing. What they do also involves discussing how they operate. What resources are available to them now that they are already in operation? Do they have a board or group to whom they have to report?
When do they do it? Are the services provided at a certain period of time? Will their project be ongoing and if so for how long? Remember you need to know what your clients plans are for the future. This will allow you to be proactive later on in looking for other opportunities.
Where do they do it? You need a detailed description of the group which is in need of the resources. As the virtual grant writer you should feel as if you live in this community and you understand their needs.
Why do they do it? Your client should be able to provide a compelling argument about the importance of their program. Why would a grant award impact their program?
Once you begin to write the proposal for your client, you should feel like you are actually a part of their organization. You need to know what they are trying to achieve and why it is so important to them. By asking your client these initial questions it will make way for a clearer picture for the work that you need to accomplish. In a world filled with technology and constant information at our fingertips, we can sometimes forget how significant it is to have an actual conversation with someone. Passion, dedication and excitement cannot be emitted through a website.
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