I've hired a consultant. Now what do I do with her?
Get it in writing
Avoid disagreements by asking for summaries of conversations, by getting signed agreements, confirming conversations, etc. This is important in avoiding miscommunication.
Budget enough time for your consultant to research prospective donors at the beginning of her work with you. Otherwise you will miss important deadlines.Send her as much information as possible when she starts working for you--you don't want her spending time reinventing the wheel. It will take extra time on your part to get started, but you will be surprised about how little effort it takes to get future proposals out.
Send Her Materials
Your grant writer will need a thorough understanding of your program, your budget, and the philosophy and culture of your organization. Tell her who in your organization would give her the fullest picture of what you do. Talking to front line staff is important!
Be sure that your consultant and you are both clear about what you want her to do and when you want your work completed. A good grant writer will be proactive in asking you questions and verifying understandings.
You will save your agency money if you are prepared for meetings and send materials to your consultant ahead of time.
You are the Best Voice for Your Organization
It is rarely a good idea to ask a grant writer to be the actual solicitor of funds. You and others within your organization are the best people to present your case. Foundations want to meet the people who operate and are committed to an organization -- not an outsider on a temporary hire.
Grant Writers Do More than Write Proposals
A grant writer can provide all kinds of services including research, writing, helping you hire a staff grant writer, coaching you or someone on your staff to develop grant writing skills, budget review from a funder's perspective, suggestions on developing measurable outcomes for your organization, help with editing your website or annual report, etc.