Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Easy Resources for the Grant Writer

Even if you're only new to grant writing and don't know how you'll learn what you need to be successful in raising grants, there's hope! There are many easily accessible resources that will get you on your way. Some resources are even free.

Whether you are just starting out or have been writing grant proposals for ten years, it is good to keep up on the latest paradigms. So, this post's advice is really for anyone who has anything to do with grant writing; whether they've been at it for five minutes or five years. Additionally, if you know of any excellent resources that I don't mention in this posting, please recommend them in the 'Comments' section that follows this post. Other readers and I will appreciate your good suggestions.

Call the local community college or community center in your area and ask whether grant writing classes are offered. If you find a class, ask a few local fundraisers in your region whether they know of the instructor and whether he/she is reputable. If they haven't heard of the instructor, look into his/her experience and judge for yourself whether this person is qualified (i.e. do they have years of successful experience, have they worked for various kinds of non profits, how long have they been teaching grant writing, etc.).

Jane C. Geever tours the country teaching an excellent one day grant writing seminar on behalf of The Foundation Center. The Foundation Center is a major resource for grant writing in the United States. They provide an excellent website (www.foundationcenter.org), publications, books, forums, etc. Jane C. Geever wrote "The Foundation Center's Guide to Proposal Writing" for The Foundation Center and it is the text that she teaches her course from. It is an excellent book to learn the 'how to's' and 'why's' of excellent grant writing (as is her seminar). I strongly recommend each. If you can not attend her seminar, you can at least purchase her book from the Foundation Center (over the phone or through their website). Geever is a long time reputable grant writer who owns her own consulting firm in New York.

Another grant writing book that I'd recommend is "Getting Funded The Complete Guide to Writing Grant Proposals" by Mary Hall, PhD and Susan Howlett. Susan Howlett is a well respected grant writing professional, in the Seattle area, who has also taught grant writing for years. This book is considered an excellent resource, as well.

The Foundation Center provides probably the best resource for grant seekers that exists in the U.S. today. Regularly it compiles and updates their Foundation Center's Grantseekers Collection (often called 'the Collection' or 'the Foundation Center's Collection'). This collection is a compilation of all the larger/national foundations in the United States who offer grants; what causes each foundation likes to fund, how to contact them, how much they gave in grants in recent years and to whom, etc. Their Collection is in both CD ROM format and bound paper book format. The Collection is available for purchase, but it is also available at many public libraries, across the United States, for free. Log onto The Foundation Center's website (the URL is above) to locate a library near you that houses the Collection. If you are planning to use the Collection at a local library, call the library, find out which employee manages the Collection, and ask them if you can come in to meet with them before you begin your research (prospecting) to learn how to use it. I recommend this because there are many various ways to search the Collection and there are a vast number of foundations listed in it, each year. Learning how to use it, first, will be time well spent because you will be able to plan your research once you understand what is available to you and where it's located in the Collection. This is an excellent resource.

Look into whether there is a professional grant writing organization in your region. In Seattle, for instance, I recommend that grant writers join the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association (www.grantwriters.org). It is not only an excellent resource to hear local foundation's managers speak (i.e. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Washington Mutual Bank Foundation, the Paul G. Allen and Family Foundation), but they offer regular conferences, opportunities to network, classes, and publications that will not just educate you, but also educate you about local funders. Local professional grant writing affiliations should put you in touch with local and regional grant donors. This is something that state or national affiliations probably won't do, and this alone is worth the membership. Knowing what local donors are most interested, what they like and don't like, and who their grant manager (your potential contact at the foundaiton) is, is very powerful. The AAGP is the American Association of Grant Professionals (www.grantprofessionals.org) and they are a national professional grant organization. I have attended one of their conferences and found it to be very informative and helpful.

Craig McPherson and Ford T. Pearson created some very helpful resources, as well. McPherson started C&D Publishing in Portland, Oregon to release what he called the "Foundation Data Books". They have compiled and regularly update a Foundation Data Book that lists all of the foundations in each of the following states; California, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington State. Each state has its own book. These are really helpful resources to research local grant donors. I can't recommend this book enough for your state. Check with your local library to see if they have a copy of the latest edition. If they don't you could request that they purchase the newest copy. It will be valuable not just to your organization, but to others in your city. You may also purchase these books from them directly. Their website is www.foundationdatabook.com

Of course, regularly checking in on this blog will also be worth your while as my posts; are informative, include topics from all aspects of grant writing, and are free. I post a new grant writing post each week. Research other reputable resource on the web. Some are excellent and being that they're free makes them all the more better! Ask colleagues or other fundraisers where they go for grant writing resources. Share the good resources that you've found with others.

Good resources will lead to a solid, current, and well rounded start to seeking grant money!

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