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We’re writing about grant reality, not grant fantasy

July 8th, 2013 · by Jake Seliger · No Comments

We’ve gotten a number of e-mails and comments over the years in which people say we’re cynical or worse.* But that’s not really how we see it: we’re describing the realities of grant biz, which is a large component of the nonprofit biz. You might not like those realities or want to ignore them, but if you’re going to be successful in this line of work you can’t ignore them forever.

Our writing about and shedding light on the grisly processes behind the making of RFPs, the writing of proposals, and the running of grant funded programs does not change those processes. Arguably, by writing this blog, we’re laying the groundwork for real change, although were not sure what a “better” world for nonprofit and public agencies would look like. If enough people read our work, understand it, and want to take action, perhaps the grant writing world will improve. Nonetheless, right now we’re just reporting on and describing issues that almost no one who isn’t intimately involved in the grant process understands.

From time-to-time, we e-mail reporters who write, usually inaccurately, on grant-related issues, but none of those e-mails has amounted to anything. So the dirty details we know have mostly remained on this blog, or discussed in conversations with clients. (File this under “Why-oh-why can’t we have a better press corps?“)

While we’re waiting for that better press corps, a great deal of well-meaning nonsense gets written about nonprofits and public agencies. We’re here to write about realities, however, not fantasies, and, as with many fields, there are subtleties well-known to insiders that mystify or anger people who don’t see the ground-level perspective. There are many things we’re not privileged to know: what a “comptroller” does, say, or what it’s like to work as a high-end escort (google Client # 9, he’s in the news today). But we do know about grant writing and the dirty details of how money goes from the people or institutions with it to the people or institutions who want to do something with it.

Our basic philosophy is about success; nonprofits that don’t find a way of sustaining themselves shut their doors. Nonprofits that do persist and succeed. If you want to learn how to be one of the latter, read this blog. You might not like what you learn, but we don’t make the rules. We play the game, and we’ve been playing it for 20 years and are better at it than anyone else we’ve ever encountered.


* Our favorite is this one, from “P. Burkins”: “It’s like dealing with a great uncle. Often cranky and not very politically correct. But in the end, full of wisdom and more often than most would admit, spot on.”

Tags: Advice · Nonprofits · Writing