Evolution

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Our vision for this blog is simple—to present the best thinking in the field of grant developmentwhat we call grantsmanship.

 

First I want to establish The Grantsmanship Center’s footing because, historically, we’ve got a lot to live up to. Norton Kiritz established The Grantsmanship Center because he was deeply concerned that nonprofits making valuable social contributions had trouble getting grants. Norton began teaching proposal writing when no one else was doing it. In 1972, he founded The Grantsmanship Center because it needed to be done and no one else was leading the way.

 

Along with other members of the Donee Group, Norton pushed for a landmark investigation that convinced Congress to examine grantmaking by tax-exempt foundations. Testimony by Norton and Donee Group colleagues including Pablo Eisenberg, Jim Abernathy, and Ted Jacobs was key in establishing the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

 

Norton was as quick a critic of spongy nonprofits as of non-responsive grantmakers, demanding that students examine assumptions, address real issues, and base requests for money on facts and logic, not just the desire to "do good."

 

Program Planning & Proposal Writing, in which Norton laid out his approach for planning and proposal development, is the foundation of the writing and teaching in the field today, the basis for common grant applications, and reflected in the instructions of the U.S. government’s Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. I’d bet it’s also one of the most pilfered and plagiarized documents in history—in spite of its copyright.

 

The Grantsmanship Center News (established in 1973 and archived in the U.S. Library of Congress) has been driven by the Center’s hard-thinking, deep-digging personality. Many articles published have become classics which are still relevant today—we offer some of those on this website. 

 

There are now countless organizations teaching “grant writing” and stacks of books explaining how to do it better, do it quicker, tell the story, do it if you’re a dummy or an idiot, and so forth. There are also a number of professional associations for “grant writers,” at least three of which offer a journal, newsletter, conference, and linked certification process. I’ve joined 22 grant-related groups on Linkedin and I’m sure I haven’t joined them all yet. There’s some good stuff out there, but also some confusion and a lot of cha-ching-cha-ching.

 

This blog will bring in some of the best thinkers we can find to raise questions and share opinions. Is the term “grant writer” accurate—and do you care? What about all these certifications? Is it ethical for a training organization to provide a certification? Speaking of ethics, are the various associations successfully responding to violations? And speaking of associations, how are they the same and how are they different? Where do proposals and their creation fit within the overall field of development and how is that reflected in the emerging philanthropy programs within academic institutions?

 

Winning grant proposals is what it always has been—hard, detailed, trying work done in hopes of producing earth-changing results. But this field is exploding—evolution gone berserk. Let’s take a look at it.

 

—Barbara Floersch, Executive Director

 

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