9 ways to practice grantsmanship

What do you think the word “grantsmanship” means? How is it different from proposal writing or proposal development? In The Grantsmanship Center’s new book, Grantsmanship: Program Planning & Proposal Writing, Barbara Floersch, the center’s executive director, defines the term.

“When you practice grantsmanship,” wrote Floersch, “your work is much more likely to have a significant positive social impact. You’re also more likely to win grants.” Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Grantsmanship is a philosophy, a code of ethics, and a set of skills that, when practiced together, can produce positive change. Here’s how The Grantsmanship Center defines it.

When you practice grantsmanship:

  • You never lose sight of your organization’s mission.
  • You know your field and stay up to date on relevant research and best practices.
  • You know the people and the community your organization serves and treat them with genuine respect, encouraging their input and involvement.
  • You’re committed to planning because you know it’s essential to making a real difference.
  • You engage others in planning — staff, constituents, board members, community members, other organizations — because you value diverse perspectives
  • You build partnerships with colleague organizations, not because the funders say you have to, but because you’re committed to the expanded viewpoints, resources, and program effectiveness that genuine partnerships bring.
  • You view funders as partners, allies, advisors, and advocates.
  • You proactively search for funding opportunities that fit your organization’s mission and priorities rather than passively waiting for something “right” to come along.
  • You refuse to misrepresent or fabricate information, disparage other organizations, or compromise a program in order to win a grant.

A grant is not about money alone, because money by itself doesn’t protect battered families, help children to read, fill the plates of the hungry, clean polluted lakes, or open museum doors. But when a grant is used to finance a well-planned program run by a capable and committed organization, it can be a powerful catalyst for change. A grant is a tool — a means to an end.

Similarly, the size of a grant is not the measure of success. A large grant to support an ill-conceived program can be a waste of money. A small grant to support a well-designed program can be tremendously effective. Grantsmanship is not about chasing dollars — it’s about getting good results. © 1974-2014 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.