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From the PublisherWhat do you really need to do to get grants? Get thee a system! Notjust any system; this one.
Proposal writing is a science and art. The art part is writing; thescience part is research, strategy, observation, and painstakingwork. Demystifying Grant Seeking is about the painstakingpart, but the authors skillfully render the components inmanageable, sustainable portions, palatable for the busiest ofnon-profit professionals.
Larissa Golden Brown and John Martin Brown walk you through agrant-seeking system that works. The Browns' plan is for: thenewcomer who must be led into the process; the experienced proposalwriter who needs to keep track of all the office's activities; andanyone who wishes to streamline operations while improving qualityand consistency.
Don't think this is just about how to get to funders. This is abouthow to collect information, manage it and other materials, andpromote communication habits to create a winning grantsoffice.
The authors describe the grant-seeking cycle in five parts: 1)learn - about your organization, your community and your potentialfunders; 2) match - your needs with the funder's interests andperformance; 3) invite - the funder, through the proposal, toinvest in the organization and the community; 4) follow up - on theprogram and the partnership; and 5) evaluate - the grant-seekingprocess to fine tune it before renewing the cycle.
They take the time to dispel many grant world myths, including "Allyou need is one well-written grant proposal" and "You need to 'knowsomeone' to get a grant." They even point out the basic necessitiesfor operating a grant-seeking office — mercifully low-tech andmanageable.
Quickly, though, they get to pre-writing part of the process.Proposal writers know that much time is spent learning about theorganization, its programs and plans, sometimes developing programsor shaping them to enhance their appeal to funders, and collectinginformation and support materials to satisfy the donor anddramatize the project. The Browns' emphasis on what they could callthe "discovery phase" is very well placed. Their checklist ofquestions for interviewing the CEO, the program director, and staffassures solid internal research. The answers to those questionsbecome the backbone of the finished proposal.
Chapters on collecting, developing and refreshing supportmaterials, and program, donor, and grants management files haveexcellent ideas for simplifying work and improving the delivery ofquality of information. The authors' recommendations on managinginformation in the office are surprisingly simple. Cultivate theirhabits of keeping only what is important, and completing relatedtasks together (filling a "to read" file or saving leads for amorning of electronic research) to maximize efficiency. Thesesystems definitely work. My office has already adopted theirdeadline cards, organizational resume, and the filing and recordkeeping ideas. Check the back of the book for sample forms and anapplication.
The section on maintaining relationships with funders may be a bittoo subtle for some newcomers, so let me emphasize the importanceof disciplined relationship management. This is the beginning of along-term partnership with the donor: attend to it if you hope itwill flourish. So use their "follow-up form" and fundercommunication ideas to guide you. It is far easier to keep a funderthan to get a funder.
How about sustaining momentum in a busy office? The authors wiselyrecommend annual reviews of grant-seeking efforts and staff summitsthat prioritize projects and define staff responsibilities inproposal preparation. Never underestimate the importance ofnon-development staff in an organization. Their ideas, information,and support are critical for success. A little internal publicrelations through periodic review meetings and regular, but brief,reports to staff will foster a team atmosphere that helps get goodwork done for everyone.
Demystifying Grant Seeking is a very fine combination ofLarissa Golden Brown's fundraising successes and Martin JohnBrown's writing abilities (they probably share those, too). It is agenerous gift to those who work so hard on behalf of good causes.Read it and keep it. (Review by Sarah S. Brophy)