Hitting a Snag, Maywood to Renew Search for Grant Writer

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

The village of Maywood’s attempt to hire a grant writer hit a snag earlier this month when contract negotiations between the village and the only candidate to apply for the position broke down.

Village officials said that the applicant, Chicago-based policy and nonprofit expert Valerie Leonard, was requesting a flat rate of $5,000 per month for her services. Village officials said that the rate was too high. Earlier this year, the village board approved a budget in which $60,000 was set aside for a grant writer position.

In an Oct. 3 letter addressed to Maywood Assistant Village Manager David Myers, Leonard said that she proposed the $5,000 monthly fixed rate after “taking into account the village’s scope of work and budget.”

“As we discussed, given the fact that there is no guarantee that a proposal will be funded after it is submitted, the Village would like to structure the contract such that it is performance-based to minimize risk,” Leonard wrote. “We agreed that a performance-based contract based on percentage of the grants received shifts the risk from the Village to the contractor, and could, in theory, provide significant upside potential for the contractor.

“However, such a practice, while utilized in some circles, is generally not looked upon favorably by professional fundraising associations. Moreover, if no caps are put into place, the contractor could conceivably be compensated more than the highest paid full-time employee on staff, even if the time put into writing and monitoring the grant do not justify the earnings.”

Citing salary.com, Leonard added that “the median salary for a grants administrator in Chicago is $75,549, as of September 27, 2017, with a range usually between $64,767-$81,429 not including bonus and benefit information and other factors that impact base pay.

“Allowing for the costs of bonus and benefits, the costs could easily be 20% or more higher than the ranges quoted. As an independent contractor, I’m responsible for my own healthcare insurance, retirement, etc. I must also pay for a range of liability insurance that the Village requires of contractors that employees are not subject to.”

According to an Oct. 11 memo, Myers described Leonard’s background acquiring grants as “impressive.” In her proposal, Leonard said that she has “a demonstrated track record of reasonable success in grant writing, with awards ranging from $2,500 to $107,000,000.”

Last October, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins recommended that the village budget for a grant writer who can go after state and federal funds that she believed the village was potentially missing out on in order to pay for services, such as street and sewer repairs, that the village’s strained budget could not cover.

“The money is out here,” Perkins said at the time, adding that other towns were receiving funds that Maywood was apparently not.

“You have to have someone who knows what they’re doing to go after that money,” she said. “We don’t have that and we definitely need it, because we don’t have the funds ourselves to take care of these problems.”

During an Oct. 17 regular meeting, Myers said that the village’s RFP for grant writers was published on its website and on Village Free Press’s website this summer.

Meyers said that village staff will start the search for grant writers over again, this time utilizing the Illinois Municipal League and the Illinois City / County Management Association in order to attract more applicants. VFP 

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3 thoughts on “Hitting a Snag, Maywood to Renew Search for Grant Writer”

  1. Thanks for covering this story, and providing sufficient details that give readers who may not have attended the meeting great insights into what happened.

    Valerie F. Leonard Expert in Community and Organizational Development Phone: 773-571-3886 E-mail: consulting@valeriefleonard.com Website: http://www.valeriefleonard.com Podcasts: http://www.BlogTalkRadio.com/Nonprofit_U Coming Soon: Capacity Building Blocks Online

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