How to Find Third Party Resources to Help You Write Your Federal Grant Applications
4 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Finding and Applying for a Grant
Writing an application for a federal grant or cooperative agreement requires making new friends in your community — not only collaborative partners but also community specialists such as evaluators. You can always score more review points by using a third-party evaluator — basically a person or organization that can operate in an objective mode and give you factual, nonemotional feedback on your grant-funded goals and objectives.
Federal grant reviewers are more likely to award more review points for the evaluation plan when a third-party evaluator is proposed. Even though evaluators are typically paid from grant funds, reviewers know that they will call situations as they see them when helping grant applicants develop data collection tools, collect and interpret data, and compile comprehensive evaluation reports for funders and other stakeholders.
The following folks make excellent third-party evaluators:
Retired college or university faculty: Often, these individuals have particpated in the grant writing process and have even helped their college or university development offices design evaluations for government grant applications.
Retired government personnel who worked in an administrative capacity in a finance department: These individuals usually have years' worth of work experience in internal reporting requirements for major organizations or government agencies.
Evaluation consultants: These people normally have years of experience in the field of evaluation. You can often find evaluation consultants by calling your local community foundation. Community foundations often use evaluation consultants to assist in evaluating their own programs.
As far as timing's concerned, the best time to bring in an evaluator is when you're sitting down with your staff and your collaborative partners to plan what you'll propose in the grant or cooperative agreement application.
Running an online search for third-party evaluators is also helpful, but you may not locate an evaluator close to home. Using an evaluator who doesn't live in your city or town is okay as long as she is familiar with the area, but keep in mind that hiring an evaluator from outside your region may increase cost of the evaluation if site visits are necessary to conduct the evaluation.