Grant writers perform an important role for their clients. For non-profit organizations, attracting adequate funding is the life line for its mission work. Grants from donor-advised funds to qualified charities totaled an estimated 23.42 billion in 2018, up nearly 19% for such funds in 2017. In addition to researching what funding sources to pursue, grant writers must following specific grant listed rules when drafting proposals once funding sources are located. The proposal drafting process can be complicated and require many people to contribute to the final submission. Richard Male and Associates believes that the top reasons grants are declined are due to poorly written proposals, misunderstanding the donor’s priorities, not following the prescribed format, and other miscues by the grant requestors. The successful proposal must be compelling, explain why the client’s project is important at this moment, explain why the client’s proposal is better than competing proposals, and includes factual success stories demonstrating the client’s success in serving its intended beneficiaries. The grant writer must coordinate many resources, peoples’ efforts, and stories to create a narrative in the proposal that is succinct, communicative, and compelling.


Donors place substantial time pressure on grant applicants requesting their funds. Once a prospective donor is identified, there is typically a short time window to apply for funding. If the grant writer did not receive notice of such funding when the funding opportunity began, she is already at a disadvantage. Time is short. She must efficiently coordinate her resources and people to get the grant request timely submitted. Late entries are rarely allowed.


Document collaboration tools can streamline the grant proposal drafting and submission process. In the Crimson Econtracts platform, subscribers have access to these tools:


Grant writers can work more efficiently with persons that need to contribute to the proposal (e.g., comments, edits) by sharing files in the platform. Grant writers can send a share link that the recipient must input a password to participate in the review and editing of a proposal. Once a person has access to the file, the platform tracks comments and edits; each contributor is uniquely identified. The group can then work collaboratively and in real-time editing and commenting on a proposal. The grant writer also has the option to restrict others from editing the proposal and even downloading the proposal. Because the file is shared and password protected, persons with access to the file and edit it anytime. The platform tracks and retain all versions. Since grant submission deadlines need to be closely managed, the grant writer can set a deadline for submitting all edits and comments. This helps the grant writer meet the donors’ deadlines.


Some clients are more visual than others. The platform allows the grant writer to use video chat while the group is editing the proposal. Video chat come in handy when the grant writer is approaching the grant submission deadline. She can host a video conference, share the current state of the grant application document, make real-time edits to the document while discussion the matter online, and add the final touches to the grant application. A text chat feature is also available for persons to communicate via messaging instead of video. Both can be simultaneously used during a collaboration session.


The platform also allows subscribers to electronically sign documents that they covert to PDF. As signature page is attached to the PDF that needs to get signed.

Grant writers can bring substantial value to their clients by find donors interested in their client’s mission. Using document collaboration tools can help the grant writer control the quality of her proposal and ensure that grant applications are submitted within the deadlines established by donors.

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About the Author

Nat James is a practicing North Carolina attorney in the Research Triangle Park area. Mr. James has drafted, negotiated, and closed business contracts for clients since 1992. This material represent his observations from past experiences. It is not intended to provide you legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mr. James. If you need legal assistance, seek independent legal counsel by contacting your State Bar or State Bar Association.