4 books about grant writing

I’m teaching a course in Grant Writing in March 2017 and thought that I would like to brush up on recent books about this discipline. I encourage you to do what I did: Check out books on grant writing from the library and decide which one (or ones) to buy for detailed study.

Which would I buy? Contact me for my suggestion!

Kachinske, Timothy and Judith Kachinske. 90 Days to Success in Grant Writing. Boston: Course Technology, a part of Cengage Learning, 2010.

What’s good

  • Really excellent 90-Day Checklists at the end of each chapter; if you are able to complete most of these activities, you’d probably become an expert in grant writing.
  • Good sample proposal outline (p. 154), with good explanation of each section of the outline, especially the plans for Dissemination, Sustainability, and Replication (concepts that are not immediately intuitive).
  • Nice description of a persuasive paragraph, offering a claim and three supports, either explanation or elaboration

What could have been better

  • Chapter 6 on “Writing” is only 19 pages and skims over really serious writing issues, although it does propose a writing process that might be helpful for writing teams. The authors have only one paragraph on “Connecting with Your Audience,” and it is pretty much just fluff.
  • The authors promote style guides that work for academia but not for business and government. Instead of APA Style, MLA Style Manual, and Chicago Manual of Style, I wish they had also suggested The Gregg Reference Manual or the S. Government Printing Office Style Manual: An Official Guide to the Form and Style of Federal Government Printing.

Mary Ann Payne. Grant Writing DeMYSTified. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2011.

The first paragraph in this book proposes two metaphors that play throughout:

“Grant writing is like a cross between preparing a holiday dinner and running a marathon. The process takes stamina, perseverance, focus, and a lot of effort before the big day. In fact, it takes more preparation than you can ever imagine, especially if you’ve never done it before.” (p. ix)

What’s good

  • Really substantial chapters with lots of good examples and wonderful tables of information
  • Good lists of activities at the end of each chapter
  • Well-designed layout that makes the information clear and easy to follow
  • Really nice quotes. My favorite was Albert Einstein: “Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of the difficulty lies opportunity.” (p. 177)

What could have been better

  • The section on writing is only 10 pages (out of 224), although within it there are good sections on “Timeline for Writing”; “Writing is revising”; and basic writing skills.

Ellen Karsh and Arlen Sue Fox. The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need, 3rd ed. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

What’s good

  • Although this book has very few graphics, its comics are pleasant.
  • You’ll find great appendices (almost a hundred pages), including 50 Tips for Improving Your Chances of Winning a Grant that is really helpful.
  • Two chapters on writing (Chapters 6 & 7) provide useful tips in 36 pages—more than any other book that I reviewed.
  • Quizzes at the end of each chapter, with answers in the Appendices, indicate that this book may be very usable in a grant writing class. Of the four books I am reviewing here, this book is most adaptable to the classroom.

What could have been better

  • The book has very few graphics, tables, or figures to break the monotony of pages and pages of text. Some simple book design would have created more inviting pages.

Beverly A. Browning. Grant Writing for dummies® 6th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2016.

What’s good

  • Most recent of these four books
  • Free online cheat sheets and templates
  • Three really great chapters:
    • 22: Ten e-Grant Tips
    • 23: Ten Steps to Becoming a Grant-Writing Consultant
    • 24: Ten Ways to Continue Building Your Grant-Writing Skills
  • Provides more information on budgeting (Chapter 17) than any of the other books
    • Lots of examples in Excel spreadsheets (of course)
    • Offers budget templates
  • Lots of checklists in Chapter 21: Matching Funds and Other Goodies from Corporate Grant Makers

What could have been better

  • Only 8 pages on writing? “Chapter 11: Resuscitating Your Writing” focuses on the strategy of writing a grant, not on the writing itself.
  • On pages 138-139, the author presents an alphabetic list of terms so that grant writers don’t go “overboard” (emotionally). I never saw such a list of over-the-top, emotional words: abashment, aghast, backbone, baseless, besiege, decadence…

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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