Writing grant proposals and business plans

A grant proposal is essentially a business plan. Someone has money you need to save the world, or a tiny corner of it, and you need to convince them that:
1) you know what you are doing
2) you have a great plan to do it
3) you have had great success in this tiny corner previously
4) you are not going to run away to Belize with the money
5) you are fiscally responsible with every step of your plan.

So you need to explain what, why, when, how, where you are saving the world, and who will help you and in what way. As long as you focus on what you plan to do, don’t add any nonsense.

I once saw a business plan saying that the PI was a good Christian and his 20-year-old daughter, who to be the main implementer even though she was on another continent, was really talented.

Quite simply, how much you believe that someone else’s money is the key to your family member having a stable future, a grant proposal is not the place to show it. What is key is having sober resumes, listing exactly what your team has done, and can do.

Another pitfall is the financial part. I went to a lot of trouble to help write a business plan which should have been successful. The main problem was that a key co-PI was just far too busy to provide any financial data or any data at all on his extremely successful business. The only part that perked him up was when he was asked what he would do with the money. He knew exactly. So he knew how to spend the client’s money, but was not willing to do the work that was needed to convince the client that he did indeed have a viable business.

I urge medical writers setting up their business to prepare a business plan to give to clients. Do a good job, and you will have more clients than you need.

However, if you are writing a grant for a client: before you start, make sure you know what you need to do and if the client is prepared. Make a fee schedule dependent on deliverables. These should be:

1) summary of how, why, who, when, how much, where. The summary should be prepared before the grant proposal is written, with the grant proposal fleshing out each section that is condensed in this summary.

2) what is going to be done

3) how it is going to be done

4) what has been done previously, this should be the introduction, and should not be an extensive literature review to prove how clever you are, but should be a streamlined description of why whoever tried to save that tiny part of the world did a great job, but parts were not completed

5) costs of what will be done, this includes supplies, travel, equipment, salaries

6) personnel, this includes resumes and letters from the personnel

7) permissions from institutions, review boards

How do you charge? Figure out how long it will take, factor in your hourly cost, and ask for a flat fee, with more if extensive rewrites are needed.

Grant proposal resources click here

Writing grant proposals and business plans. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2017 v11n2p0707

To contact the director, Dr Dodgson, drdodgson@medicalwritinginstitute.us