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    I have been a grants professional since 1974 — that’s a long time. I have worked in agencies that range from the largest single local public agency in the country to a tiny seminary … and everything in between.

    During that time I’ve taught countless grant seekers in graduate and continuing education courses, and in professional workshops. In those early days of teaching, I structured my courses around the three basic principles of seeking grant funding — program design, funder research and proposal writing.

    The process started with a well-structured, compelling program or mission statement for organizations seeking targeted core support. Then the grant seeker needed to conduct a comprehensive search of grant makers and their priorities.

    Today that’s all done electronically, but in years past it required endless hours search through printed directories. That research yielded a list of potential funders that then had to be filtered further — for a variety of factors that “qualified” them appropriate prospects to be sent an application.

    Those factors included geography, applicant eligibility, funding range and program compatibility. The final list included only those funders whose priorities matched those of the applicant. Next, the applicant wrote proposals that were consistent with the funder’s guidelines, submitted those applications, and then waited.

    That was, and still is the standard curriculum for courses on grantsmanship, whether one-day workshops or semester long seminars.

    This structured, sequential approach is, in fact, the process that grant seekers must follow, but it is a process that hardly guarantees success.

    Eventually I came to recognize that we well-meaning professionals were doing a disservice to grant seekers by presenting this cookbook approach as the road to getting funded. As I wrote in an earlier blog, grants represent the greatest effort for the least return of any fundraising strategy. Only 5% to 10% of grant application are funded in any cycle.

    Want to increase your odds ?? Watch for Part 2 … next Tuesday, June 29 !!

    Have a question about starting or expanding your grants program? Email me at