Foundation Center libraries have recently acquired two new publications with very similar titles: How to Win Grants: 101 Winning Strategies by Allan Silver (Allworth Press, 2012) and Writing Grant Proposals that Win, 4th ed. by Deborah Ward (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012). Used together, both provide guidance to grantseekers unfamiliar with or new to the process of applying for and winning grants. I’ll compare the contents of both books here.
How to Win Grants presents over 100 strategies in the context of a three-part "prepare, persuade, perform" approach to grantseeking. Advice is presented in bite-sized chunks and run the gamut of the process. In the prep stage, some of the more useful tidbits include aiming for the “sweet spot” (strategy #4) where your agency’s needs, the funder’s needs, and the needs of your target population overlap. Strategy #14 offers a grants bookshelf of recommended books on proposal writing, how foundations operate, and charitable giving trends. Silver also discusses the “seven deadly grantseeking sins” (#20) which include “don’t shotgun cookie-cutter proposals to long lists of funders” and “don’t give up too soon.”
The "persuade" strategies in How to Win Grants mostly encompass proposal writing tips. These include a concise outline of the key parts of a proposal (#65), as well as words of encouragement to keep you going. Silver tells us that often “there comes a time in the development of some grant applications when you find yourself drowning in details” or reaching "the point of no return" (#69). If you reach this point, he urges you to see the process through with various coping strategies, such as identifying the “one big issue” that bugs you and doing something about it immediately, or breaking a small piece off the proposal and going someplace more relaxed to work on only that.
While How to Win Grants helps the reader through a broad range of grantseeking tasks, Writing Grant Proposals that Win by Deborah Ward covers the entire proposal development process almost exclusively and explains how to shape the major elements of any proposal. The conceptual framework outlined in the opening chapter reflects Ward's assertion that writing a grant proposal “is an exercise in logic” and any grant application should “flow rationally from point to point, [making] a logical case for funding.” Throughout the book, she discusses how to craft this logical framework in detail, from identifying the problem in the needs statement, through developing procedures for measuring the project’s success (evaluation), to estimating the funding needed to complete the project as proposed (budget).
Other sections in Writing Grant Proposals cover the review process, the politics of grantsmanship, and a chapter on "never accepting failure" mirrors the "don't give up too soon" mantra in Silver's How to Win Grants. The book also includes seven winning proposals that can be adapted to almost any project.
Foundation Center libraries carry dozens of books on grantseeking and proposal development, including two of our most popular publications, Guide to Proposal Writing (now in its 6th edition) and The Grantseeker's Guide to Winning Proposals. You can find these and the two titles dicussed here in call number sections 740 (foundation grantseeking) and 770 (proposal development).
-- Rob Bruno
This post appeared originally on Nonprofit Literature Blog.
Here's a Google preview of Deborah Ward's book: