What is Grantsmanship?

In 1972, The Grantsmanship Center defined the principles of grantsmanship for an emerging profession. Since then, the Center has continued to champion ideals that define grantsmanship as far more than the art of writing proposals and obtaining grants. Grantsmanship is a philosophy, a code of ethics, and a set of skills applied simultaneously to bring about positive change. People who practice grantsmanship:

  • Know that the mission of their organization is service to its beneficiaries, and that grants must respond to that mission;
  • Use grants to address problems and bring benefits to the community, with the understanding that grants are not the solution to every funding need;
  • View planning as non-negotiable – if there is no plan, there’s nothing to write about;
  • Know they don’t know it all and so seek the opinions and ideas of constituents, staff, and colleague organizations;
  • Proactively search for private funders and government programs that fit their mission, rather than only reacting to random opportunities;
  • Build partnerships with funders who share their organization’s goals and values, seeing them as allies, advisors, and advocates–not as automatic teller machines;
  • Are steadfastly ethical–don’t misrepresent or fabricate information, disparage their peers, bend missions to qualify for funds, exaggerate problems, or promote needless programs;
  • Know what they need to know–the problem they’re up against, their constituency, their community, recent research, and best practices in their field;
  • Know how to write a proposal that makes the case.

A grant is just a tool. Money alone doesn’t protect battered families, help children to read, fill the plates of the hungry, clean polluted lakes, or open museum doors. But when guided by a thoughtful plan from a committed organization, a grant can be a powerful catalyst for change.

Organizations that practice grantsmanship are more effective. Their proposals are more likely to get funded, but more importantly, their programs are more likely to make a difference.

Grantsmanship: it’s not about money; it’s about results.

This article is reprinted from the July 2008 issue of {Centered}, The Grantsmanship Center’s monthly epublication. Copyright © 2008, The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.