The purpose of this entry is twofold; one, we’re supposed to write blogs to keep people coming to the site (mission accomplished); and two, I’m writing a deeply boring proposal and this is an excellent opportunity to ditch it until lunch time.
While the primary part of my job is meant to be M&E (which to the continuing bafflement of my colleagues I really enjoy), given the year that’s in it all of my time at the moment is spent writing grant proposals. Doing one of them is actually ok, it’s a good opportunity to flesh out an idea and hopefully get some money to do it. Unfortunately my success rate at actually getting the money to date has been pretty negligible so it gets disheartening. Add to that the fact that this is my ninth in the same number of work weeks, and that they’re each about 5,000 words, and you can imagine it’s not the most scintillating.
So why do it? I’ve been able to cram my other stuff into about half of my time. From then it’s a case of working out what the best way to contribute to the organisation is with the remainder. While people outside the sector often see charities as getting their revenue from things like bag packing, it’s actually a pretty inefficient way of doing it. If you’ve to pay staff something comparable to what they’re making it doesn’t really add up to a lot of sense.
By contrast, in many cases when a donor publishes a call for proposals you’re expected to ask for anything from €100,000 to €500,000. In some instances its even more. The obstacle we’ve come up against is that it’s a very difficult world to crack into. First you’ve to find where the proposals are published. We’ve actually managed to do this but it took some time. Second, you’ve to write sufficiently long and protracted documents with loads of technical language that stand out from all of the other long and protracted documents with loads of technical language. Last, you’ve to rely on significant amounts of luck.
The main reason luck is so important is that the competition is so high. For a lot of the EU proposals the success rate is only about 3%, and you’re competing with organisations who’ve full teams of proposal writers and have been doing this for decades. At the end of last year we had a grant virtually secured, only to be pulled at the last minute. Disheartening to say the least. The big hope for the coming months is that some of the 15 pre-applications we have pending will yield some fruit, and begin the full application process again. The big hope from there is that we’ll actually be able to get some significant new money in 2010 to do some of the brilliant projects that Camara can bring on the back of the work it’s already doing.
And I’ve another 20 minutes… rats….