Y’all, check on your grant writing and technical writing friends. We tired.
One of the stories that isn’t being told about the impacts of our recovery efforts is the workload that came with accessing federal and private aid. Many people are working diligently to help aid get to where it is most needed and to be honest, the past year has revealed another workforce shortage out here…proposal writers. Cause a lot of us are looking a little froggy these days.
Technical writing isn’t typically viewed with the same respect that is reserved for doctors, lawyers or engineers, but when it’s time to apply for those big fancy grants or contracts behind every award you see celebrated by an organization there is likely an exhausted proposal specialist who spent weeks pulling together attachments and checking narrative language for continuity and reviewing budgets for compliance.
And many of these research support specialists either don’t know how to or are not afforded much in the way of vacation time when they truly get to unplug. There’s always an organization that needs funding and a funder that has a deadline that has an uncanny knack for falling smack in the middle of that planned PTO you worked out with your supervisor.
I’m fortunate that I was able to pivot my skill set into a consulting business and have greater control of what projects I take on but not everyone is so fortunate. Many faculty members at colleges and universities that don’t have a strong research and sponsored programs office also feel this stress because they have to pull all of these materials together on top of their other duties on the hope and prayer that they will be funded to perform their research activities. Here are a few stats that might surprise you about grant makers.
In fiscal year 2017, National Science Foundation (NSF) received 49,415 proposals for funding, similar to 2015 and 2016. After review, it made 11,447 new competitive awards for a funding rate of 23 percent. NSF dispersed $7.1 billion for research and education programs to approximately 2,000 colleges, universities, schools, businesses, and other research organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories.
In fiscal year 2014 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded 9,986 PIs out of 39,809 total investigator applicants for a funding rate of 25.1 percent.
On the corporate and private foundation side the funding rates “can” be better, but many nonprofits also lack experienced and dedicated staff that are fully versed in all of the different rules and regulations of each of their eligible funding entities. Yet people roll up their sleeves and do their best to try for the funding that their organizations need.
In 2004, one-third of foundations received fewer than 50 proposals; 38 percent of them funded at least half of the proposals.Foundation Center’s Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates, 2004 Preview
6 percent received more than 1,000 proposals each; 11 percent of them funded at least half of the proposals.
Overall, 35 percent funded 50 percent or more of the grant requests they received.
Corporate foundations receive a higher volume of proposals, compared to independent and community foundations.
Foundations that reported giving of less than $1 million funded a larger share of their grant requests than foundations with giving of $10 million or more.
Now, think about the staff time and effort that goes unrewarded for the unfunded efforts… roughly 50 to 78 percent of the above mentioned proposers are unsuccessful. Yeah, this is a rough business that requires a thick skin.
So this past weekend I closed up shop and took off for the mountains to clear my head and do a filming for my production company. In fact, one of the reasons I started consulting was to make time for my creative writing pursuits.
Whether you write for your living like me or you’re working hard in another chosen profession please remember to take time to unplug and recharge in whatever way works for you. And do it regularly. We Americans have a terrible habit of overworking ourselves that is unhealthy both physically and emotionally.
Don’t live to work. Work to LIVE!
Marta is an award winning filmmaker, writer and producer committed to sharing the rich and complex stories of America’s Heartland region. Marta wears several hats as Chief Creative-in-Charge of MartaGwyn Productions, LLC as well as the Co-Founder and Senior Grant Writer of Youngblood and Associates, LLC and Chief Operations Officer of Marta Collier Educational Systems and Services, LLC.
Marta is also the founder and editor-in-chief of TheWRITEaddiction. An online community of writers that publish creative and inspirational works daily at www.TheWriteAddiction.com.
Marta is an alumna of The Ohio State University and Tougaloo College with degrees in Sociology and English-Journalism and resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and unconventional college sweetheart of 10 years, Terrance Youngblood.