Successful grant writing requires more than just a well written proposal. It demands that you think like a successful proposal writer. To help you get there, Gail R. Shapiro and Carla C. Cataldo recently published Get That Grant! The Quick-Start Guide to Successful Proposals.
Whether you are an executive director who occasionally authors a proposal or a full-time grant writer, the authors provide a highly accessible roadmap through the process. They do that by organizing the book into eight chapterscalled lessons”which cover the gamut of critical elements that are part of most grant proposals.
First and foremost, Shapiro and Cataldo, both of whom are development consultants to nonprofits, suggest that all grant writers start by asking themselves if they really need a grant, or if there might be another way to fund a project. After all, most grants come with some reporting strings attached, and complying will consume organizational time and effort.
Taking note of the current recession, and increased interest in the funding world to support collaboration between two or more organizations focused on the same problem, the authors provide guidance on creating successful collaborations.
Assuming that applying for a grant makes good sense, the task then is to identify the most likely grant sources and make the case for the funds. Above all, the authors say, nothing should be assumed. For example, in describing why the problem the grant will help address is in fact a problem, the authors note that your proposal will be competing for dollars against many other worthy projects. You will need to convince the funder of the magnitude of the problem, and make him or her want to participate in solving it.”
What helps make the book a practical guide is the use of examples throughout. In addition, the clear, lucid writing that characterizes Get that Grant exemplifies the type of writing the authors advocate in proposal writing. Short, declarative sentences are the rule. It also emphasizes specificity, such as Specify what staff will be needed and what qualifications they must have.” and Be specific. Do not assume the proposal reviewer knows a great deal about your project or...field.”
The authors also guide the reader through terminology with which, they say, proposal writers must be thoroughly familiar, as funders usually attach very specific meaning to core concepts such as vision, mission, goals, and objectives. They also provide expert analysis of a logic model, which is a representation in graphical form of how a program or project uses its resources to create activities which have measurable results that lead to desired outcomes.
While most nonprofits dont regard themselves first and foremost as a business, Get that Grant provides a good template for making a business proposal, which is what a request for funding is all about. If nonprofits can master the art of grant writing, they can apply the same skills to all business aspects of the organizations. In other words, good grant writing encourages good business practice, which many funders want to see today.
Get that Grant is the second edition of Introduction to Grant Proposal Writing: A Self-Study Guide, published three years ago. It is available by clicking here.