Grantsmanship for the GENIUS

Goodwin Deacon, a master grantwriter, and Ken Ristine, a senior program officer with decades of experience, have teamed up to take us into the mind of the grantmaker and provide a step-by-step guide to crafting a proposal that is simply irresistible. Grantsmanship for the GENIUS gives us an insider’s perspective that will quickly put us miles ahead of the game.

For the GENIUS Press (2016) | 348 Pages

Grantsmanship for the GENIUS gives you a rare insider’s view into the perspective of the funder—whether a foundation, corporate donor, or government agency.

Besides being veterans in the grantsmanship field, the authors are experienced teachers of the subject. Tapping into their years of classroom experience, mentoring to their professional peers, and consulting for innumerable nonprofit organizations, they have mastered the fun, conversational style common to all For the GENIUS® books. In other words, they know how to explain even murky concepts so they are easily grasped. They provide plenty of examples and tips throughout and even have a bit of fun with their “Pure Genius!” and other sidebars.

Becoming a skilled and accomplished grant professional takes years of experience. But let's face it—in the real world, we don’t have years to gain competency. We have to get started quickly, and we have to get started on the right foot. Even so, as we grow in experience we also need an authoritative guide to help us broaden and deepen our skills and to fill in the inevitable gaps. Therein lies another remarkable contribution of Grantsmanship for the GENIUS: The authors have organized this book to give us both a quick start and a full treatment of the subject.

Just to underscore the depths to which the authors take us, they cover such concepts as logic models and theory of change, often difficult for grantwriters to understand—especially those new to the field. The book explains such concepts in simple language and makes even formal terms less intimidating.


Table of Contents

Part 1—Quick-Start Letter

Chapter 1—Planning the Letter
Chapter 2—Let’s Write!

Part 2—Laying the Groundwork

Chapter 3—What Are Grants and What Can They Do?
Chapter 4—What Kinds of Funders Are There?
Chapter 5—Why Do Funders Make Grants?
Chapter 6—Types of Grants: What Makes a Fundable Project?
Chapter 7—Grants and Your Organization’s Budget

Part 3—Getting Ready

Chapter 8—Getting Your Organization Ready to Write Grants
Chapter 9—Researching Funding Sources
Chapter 10—Increasing Your Chances of Success
Chapter 11—Approaching Funders

Part 4—Writing: The First Stage

Chapter 12—Preparing to Write
Chapter 13—Getting Your Message Across
Chapter 14—Letters of Inquiry, Part 1
Chapter 15—Letters of Inquiry, Part 2

Part 5—Writing a Full Proposal

Chapter 16—Cover Letters, Cover Sheets, Proposal Outlines, and Summaries
Chapter 17—Logic Models
Chapter 18—Needs Statements
Chapter 19—Goals and Objectives
Chapter 20—Project Plans
Chapter 21—Evaluation Plans
Chapter 22—Project Budgets
Chapter 23—Organizational Information
Chapter 24—Sustainability

Part 6—What Comes Next?

Chapter 25—Meeting with Funders: Site Visits
Chapter 26—Acknowledgment and Stewardship

Appendix A—Model LOI
Appendix B—Sample Grant Proposal for SCUM
Appendix C—Code of Ethics of Grant Professionals Association
Appendix D—Chicago Area Common Grant Application

About the Authors

Goodwin Deacon, PhD

Goodwin Deacon, PhD

Goodwin Deacon earned a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and began her career as an English professor at the Universities of Utah and Idaho. In 1980 she moved to Seattle and began a second career as a grantwriter, working for Seattle Opera, Seattle University, Children’s Hospital Foundation, and later Edmonds Community College. At the same time, she continued teaching humanities at Antioch University Seattle, including writing classes.

In 1992 she became a consultant, offering grantwriting and prospect research services through her business, Deacon Consulting. She has worked with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in the Puget Sound region in the fields of the arts, education, healthcare, social services, and the environment.

In 1990, Goodwin founded the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association, a networking and training organization that helps grantwriters improve their skills, meet funders, and form a community with each other. She has also taught grantwriting at Discover U., the University of Washington Fundraising Management Program, and Antioch University Seattle. She is a frequent speaker on panels and at conferences, and offers workshops on grantwriting and research. Goodwin continues to serve on the board of the Puget Sound Grantwriters Association.


Ken Ristine

Ken Ristine

Ken Ristine has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1977, though his experience working with people and understanding financial systems began with several jobs he held during college. He began honing his writing skills as a ghostwriter for a ghostwriter.

After college, he worked as a research analyst for a nonprofit alcoholism program on labor/management agreements that were precursors of employee assistance programs. He moved on to United Way, first with fundraising and later in the community affairs division.

In 1984, he became the planning, allocations, and community affairs director for another United Way. Five years later, he joined the staff of a private family foundation where he is now the senior program officer. Throughout his career in nonprofits, he’s consulted with dozens of nonprofits on program design and implementation, fundraising, proposal development, nonprofit tax issues, and organizational development. Ken is a frequent speaker at conferences and classes on nonprofit work.


What Are GENIUS Books?

Though we admit to a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun in referring to our readers as geniuses, we do in fact think highly of them! We know that they are intelligent and knowledgeable about many subjects, just not necessarily on the subject of the For the GENIUS book they’ve just picked up. They know that, despite the title, our books are for pretty much everyone, not just “Einsteins”—though even some Einsteins will enjoy our books, too!

We celebrate the fact that our readers are inspired to learn a subject enough to pick up one of our books, which in turn inspires us to ensure, through plenty of perspiration at every step, excellence in producing them.

Readers will enjoy the fun, upbeat, and first-person writing style. They will even find themselves entertained by the occasional sprinkled-in humor, and look forward to sidebars that enhance the discussion.

Though written in a conversational first-person style, GENIUS books are thorough and authoritative treatments of the subject. They are written by top experts in the subject who want to share with others what they’ve learned.

The For the GENIUS series was created by CharityChannel, a community of nonprofit-sector professionals, to offer the world something different and not always on a nonprofit topic. Enjoy!