Book And Video Reviews

The Grantwriter's Start-Up Kit: A Beginner's Guide to Grant Proposals Workbook

by Successful Images, Inc.
"Good tool for novices; even better with a facilitator"

This video-and-workbook set are a great introduction to the world of foundation grant proposal development. Like any tool, it's important to know how it should be used. This set will be used best in training situations where a facilitator will be available to assist with interpreting the workbook materials and "fleshing out" some of the concepts. But that's not a requirement; anyone interested in the subject can learn a lot from this introductory material.

I'm a little surprised that the authors/publishers chose to stick with the term "grantwriter:" many foundation staffs believe that THEY are the "grant writers" and that those seeking funding are preparing applications for grant funding. However, the market holds to the term "grantwriter" for proposal applicants, and it is less cumbersome than anything else I've heard to describe those who prepare grant proposals and applications.

Watch the video first, and then tackle the workbook. [In fact, the video makes absolutely no reference to the workbook.] The video's 25 minutes are well-produced and feature foundation grants experts. The videocassette I viewed seemed to have some minor audio problems, but that may have been my equipment rather than the video itself, and in any case, it didn't affect my understanding of the material.

The video presents the twelve elements of a successful foundation grant proposal, from the cover letter through the proposal narrative to the budget and appendices. It also provides some basic tips for writing successful proposals: researching foundations; calling foundations for help; making your grant application easy to read and to navigate; writing in a clear, concise style that accurately presents a compelling case for funding, etc.

People preparing government grant applications show be wary of some of the specific advice in the video (like that to avoid double-spacing in foundation proposals), and I would have liked to see the video emphasize the overriding importance of preparing an application using the funding source's preferred format rather than a single "best practice" format, regardless of how professional it appears. It would also have been nice to see some mention of the workbook in the video, if only to reassure the viewer that they don't have to take copious notes while watching.

The 64-page large format workbook takes the writer through the organizational and "thinking" steps necessary to prepare a good grant application. There are seven exercises to help develop a clear mission and objectives, determine evaluation steps, pencil out a budget, etc. The next section of the workbook shows examples of each of the twelve components of a grant application on the right-side pages. The left-facing pages contain descriptions of each section and tips for writers, similar to the material covered in the video. The workbook's final section provides tips on strategy and structure, and discusses why not all applications are successful, again closely following the content at the end of the video.

The Grantwriter's Start-Up Kit will give novices a good introduction to the subject and some basic tools, and is a great "off the shelf" tool for facilitators and instructors seeking to expose others to the world of grantsmanship.