Monthly Archives: September 2017

Why do grant writing firms market so many disparate services?

We’ve seen a lot of would-be grant writing competitors come and go, and the ones that commonly go have something in common: they offer a huge array of disparate services. Grant writing. Program development. Board training. Evaluation. Curriculums. Lobbying. Staff training. Guacamole recipes.

Okay, I made that last one up. Still, a cliché encapsulates the disparate-service approach of some firms: “Jack of all trades and master of none.” I see firms marketing half a dozen (or more) different services and think they’re likely not very good at any. How many restaurants make six different cuisines well? None, or nearly none. Any single field, including the highly specialized form of technical writing that is grant writing, is extremely difficult to master. Few firms are likely to have mastered many, vaguely related, and specialized services.*

To my mind, claiming to do even three disparate things at a professional level is improbable. Advertising many together seems like the mark of an amateur, or someone chucking as many stones as they can in order to see what hits. Individual targeting of one or two services is more likely to yield a good outcome.

Grant writing and marketing, for example, have very little to do with each other. Even grant writing and donor management are very different skills, much like coding software is a very different skill from selling software—even if both positions involve software in some way.

Not surprisingly, I recently saw a particular firm’s website that demonstrates some of these themes. I’m not going to name it, but if you’ve been around the nonprofit block a few times you’ve probably seen it or ones similar to it.


* The possible exception to this is of course Amazon, which is (so far) successfully mastering an astonishing and growing array of unrelated-seeming services.

Links: New vaccines, construction workers and YouthBuild, vocational education, reading, jobs, and more!

* “Herpes cure needs free-to-choose medicine.”

* “The U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild Houston After Harvey.” Every YouthBuild applicant from the greater Houston area ought to cite this article in the next funding round.

* “Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power is the world’s safest energy source.”

* “Driving Tesla’s Model 3 changes everything.” This reminds me of electric bikes. Lots of people scoff at electric bikes, until they ride one, and then they go, “Ooooooo, wow, this is great!”

* “Colleges say they could lower tuition — if only they could talk to each other about it.” I’m not convinced this is true, but it is interesting, and certainly the current approach has not yielded good outcomes for most people. My worries are encapsulated by this:

On the other hand, said Scherer, “it’s just possible that collusion in tuition-setting could be reflected on the cost side by an above-average increase” in the price. “If you relaxed the pressure even more, where would it go? To a general reduction of tuition or to higher educational spending generally on the facilities and staff side? I, frankly, am skeptical.”

* U.S. Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned. Ill news, especially given the link about safety above.

* “When all job differences are accounted for, the ‘pay gap’ almost disappears.”

* “Apple and other tech companies are fighting to keep devices hard to repair.” It’s not hard to understand why, yet personal electronics repair is another promising vocational education field.

* “Why We Can’t Have the Male Pill: A condom alternative could be worth billions. What’s taking so long?” This would likely have a tremendous impact on unplanned pregnancy, but, perversely, it could also increase the STI rate (at least until we have vaccines for most common STIs).

* Someone found this blog by searching for, “how to win fqhc service area competitions.” You’ve come to the right place.

* “2016 Was Hot, Weird, and Unprecedented.”

* The death of the internal combustion engine.

* “The electric bike conundrum,” except it isn’t actually a conundrum and cheap electric bikes may reshape cities.

* Housing costs are the real driver of inequality in America, a theme familiar to regular readers but unfamiliar to many others.

* Too few patients shop around for healthcare coverage, driving up costs. Another thing FQHCs probably know and most people probably don’t.

* “Sutter will shift 10,000 Anthem Medi-Cal enrollees to community health centers.” The headline is a slightly nicer way of saying, “10,000 patients dumped onto FQHCs.”

* “How I Survived the Title IX Star Chamber.”

* “75,000 Apply for State College Scholarships, but Many Won’t Qualify.” As so often happens, the bureaucracy itself becomes a hurdle.

* The Texas telemedicine breakthrough.

* Wind and solar power are on track to exceed expectations. Again. Good news!

* “The Fight Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Might Start With Vaccines.”

* “Amy’s Drive Thru, America’s First Meat-Free Fast-Food Restaurant Is Getting Ready To Expand.”

* How Nakaya, a Japanese Pen Maker, Anticipated the Writing-Tool Renaissance. Personally I’ve been a fan of Sailor fountain pens, but more often these days I just use Pigma Micron pens that are easier to carry around (and lose).