Although I am currently a full-time grants consultant with Hanover Grants (see About for more information), I do occasionally take on freelance work for projects that interest me, clients who are easy to work with, and programs I believe are beneficial to society. To avoid any possibility of conflicts of interest, I do not take on freelance work for individuals associated with my employer’s clients, and I do not take on projects that would potentially compete with projects undertaken by any of my employer’s clients (whether I am the writer on those projects or not) or by any of my other clients.

Potential clients are typically interested in the answers to two questions: 1) how can you help me with this project? and 2) how much is it going to cost?

How I can help with your project…

Although I have the skills and experience to help with just about any aspect of your project from prospecting for funding sources to designing a program to writing and submitting a proposal, my strengths are proposal writing, proposal review, and proposal revision. When I limit my involvement to these areas of strength, I am more likely to enjoy the project, you are more likely to get a top-notch product, and you are more likely to get the best value for your project fee.

Proposal writing is exactly as it sounds. You give me some basic starting material, and I do the rest. Usually the best results are achieved in this area when I am involved from an early stage in the process and participate in some of the planning and program design conversations. Clients who choose this approach are typically seeking funding for  a program idea (e.g., a science curriculum program or a student support services program) rather than a research idea. As a participant in the development process, I can help you design a program that is responsive to the funding announcement, and as the proposal writer, I can weave your program elements into a compelling narrative that clearly conveys the significance and details of the program and that anticipates and addresses reviewers’ likely concerns.

Proposal review and proposal revision are usually combined, though occasionally a client asks for a basic review without revision. During the proposal review process, I review a draft proposal through two lenses: that of a reviewer and that of a writer/editor. My primary goals in a proposal review are to 1) identify strengths and weaknesses of the proposed idea using the criteria the actual reviewers will use, 2) identify areas where the proposal is unclear or potentially confusing to reviewers, and 3) evaluate whether the proposal meets the technical specifications of the program announcement. The product of a proposal review is a copy of the draft with my comments and suggestions. After you respond to my comments, we can do another round of review or move to the mixed review and revisions stage. During a proposal revision, I typically revise for clarity, copyedit the proposal, and do a final check for internal consistency and responsiveness to the funding announcement.

Although I am happy to do a proposal review and/or revision for any type of project, this approach is most common with proposals for basic or clinical research. I am most comfortable reviewing research elements (e.g., specific aims, hypotheses, methods) in the biological sciences (i.e., literally almost any area of biology from ecology to zoology to genetics to physiology and medicine) and education (specifically K-12, post-secondary, and graduate).

What I can’t (or won’t) do for you…

If your basic or clinical research project is still in the early developmental stages, I probably will not be willing to assist. You likely have a better understanding of the field and its relevant literature than I do, and the research project is something you will have to live with and implement for the next several years. Thus, you should develop the basic approach. I am happy to assist with developing your aims or goals around a set of hypotheses, but you probably can’t pay me enough to do a literature search.

Similarly, if you are designing a non-research program, I am happy to help with many aspects of the design process, including the actual program design. But ultimately you will be the one implementing the program, and it is essential that you understand and believe in the approach you are proposing. Thus, as much as I really do love designing programs (seriously!), I won’t design a program on my own from the ground up.

How much is it going to cost?

As you might expect, it depends… With new clients I only work on an hourly basis. This protects both of us because neither of us is entirely sure what to expect of the other. I have had clients estimate a project would take 10-15 hours only to find it was closer to 100! I have also had clients who requested a review and revision when they really needed comprehensive writing services. So for first-time clients, I give a few guidelines and then state my hourly fee.

These are the guidelines I give new clients:

  • For proposal review and revision, I usually estimate 1 to 1.5 hours per page of single-spaced narrative (the actual proposal part without the budget, appendices, forms, etc.) with a little more time per page for shorter proposals (<10 pages) and a little less time per page for longer proposals (>30 pages). The higher end of this estimate assumes more than one round of revisions.
  • For proposal writing, I usually estimate 3 to 4 hours per page of single-spaced narrative with the same caveats as above. This estimate includes all services (i.e., reviewing the funding announcement, planning calls and emails with the client, a basic literature search to supplement provided materials, some program design, writing the proposal, reviewing ancillary forms, assisting with the budget, and advising on, but not doing, the submission).

I can either agree to do the work for as many hours as it takes to complete the task, or I can agree to work up to a maximum number of hours, at which point the client can make a decision about whether to continue based on an estimate of the remaining time needed to complete the project.

My hourly fee is the same for all clients. Given the limited time available and the value of the work, I do not offer discounts. Because I primarily serve clients in basic science, clinical research, and science education (all areas where competition is fierce, the awards are large, and my educational background and experience are particular assets), my rates are higher than you will find among all-purpose grant consultants. In this field, you get what you pay for, and my clients will attest that my assistance is worth the fee.

If you would like more information on my hourly fee or would like to request information on my references, please email me with a brief description of your project, the name of the organization or institution you work for, and a brief description of what you would want me to do. Also state whether you want to know my fee, obtain contact information for references, or both.

I occasionally do pro bono work, but such projects typically directly affect communities I have ties to, or they are phenomenal projects that address needs on my list of special interests. If you wish to request pro bono work, please email me with a description of your project and a statement of why I should consider your request.

With existing clients I am willing to work on an hourly basis, on a fee-per-project basis, or on an hourly basis with a project cap. Once I know what to expect from a client in terms of the quality of information and/or writing they provide and the level of involvement they expect from me throughout the process, I can reasonably estimate the time that will be required for a particular project. Interestingly, while most clients are initially wary of the hourly approach, only one has ever requested a project fee for a subsequent project (and that was for a project estimated at about 400 hours–it was a good deal for them because the estimate was low!).

If I haven’t answered your question here, email me, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. One of these days I’ll get around to posting a section on Consulting FAQs, but until then, drop me a line.