If you think proposal writing is the most important part of getting grant funds, you’re missing the big picture. Read this Book Review.
Secrets of Successful Grantsmanship: A Guerilla Guide to Raising Money
By: Susan L. Golden
Susan Golden calls her book a guerilla guide because you, the grant seeker, are working alone, largely on an ad hoc basis. Like a guerilla fighter, you hunt opportunities, calculate the odds of success, and marshal resources to offset your weaknesses.
As in guerilla warfare, the key to success is your approach. In fundraising, this means maintaining a dialogue between grantor and grantee. The backbone of grant seeking, Susan Golden insists good proposal writing, but in the context of building healthy relationships.
Golden gives you the background you need to decide when and where to seek grants, and her advice is sound as far as it goes. However, she places too much faith in the initial telephone conversation, which she advises using mainly to set an appointment.
Unfortunately, she makes a huge assumption that you’ll get into the foundation’s office if you ask—and doesn’t describe how to build relationships
With grant makers who don’t want visits, what will you do ?. She doesn’t put enough emphasis on researching foundations beforehand. Before you call, you must know what you’re proposing and why it’s of interest to the foundation. Otherwise, the call will be a waste of time.
Many, if not most, donor agencies won’t want to meet with you until you’ve submitted something in writing. Golden spends much time discussing how to work with an intermediary after you submit a grant proposal.
She spends no time on self-advocacy—updating a foundation on your efforts to raise funds elsewhere: decisions of other foundations, approaching foundations not previously mentioned, unexpected windfalls, fund transferals, unexpected equipment failure, the consequences of natural disasters and so on.
Even though Golden explains her reason for using the term “guerilla,” she glosses over the implications the term raises. “Guerilla” implies battling a monolithic, staid institution—not healthy approach to craftsmanship.
Her choice of terms throughout the book raises questions. She talks about building relationships yet also of “winning grants”—another phrase which connotes combat and competition rather than working for common goals. Development shouldn’t be a battle, just to push your grant proposal.
Susan Golden’ book would be most helpful for an all-volunteer organisation or a one-person development office, especially if readers applied its procedures toward relationship building rather than competing to improve your proposal writing skills. She is correct in stating that grant seeking requires focus, discipline, and persistence—qualities of a guerilla as well.
But the similarity ends there. Grantsmanship is not warfare. It is an effort to direct the values of two organisations toward a mutually beneficial goal. If you would like order this book from Amazon Store, click on the below link.
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