There is No Such Thing as a Grantwriter



I’m like that Japanese soldier who kept on fighting World War II for twenty-nine years after it ended. There is no need for alarm; I don’t intend to shoot any innocent civilians over this.

Why so grouchy?

What bothers me is not just that “grantwriter” is a grammatical finger on the blackboard.  I am passionate about making sure nonprofits are strong and sustainable, and I want to make sure you  don’t fall short of your potential. Good writing is important – that’s a given – but there is so much more involved in crafting a successful proposal. The end result should be a project that meets your needs as well as the requirements of the funding agency.  That can’t happen without the active support of the program staff, the finance department, the CEO, and sometimes the board of directors.    It takes considerable management skill to herd all those cats. 


Let’s try “grants manager”

  • Before writing a single word, the grants manager has to do a good deal of research to find granting agencies that will support not only your cause, but also the specific project you are presenting.
  • In many cases, she needs to do research and gather data to support the issue the proposal is addressing.
  • The grants manager has to be able to articulate a clear, compelling, and well-documented statement of need. Hint: the fact that you don’t have enough money to do what you want to do doesn’t cut it.
  • He has to work with the program staff to develop  goals, objectives, and activities  - and how they relate to each other.
  • Directly related to setting goals and objectives is designing a realistic evaluation plan that will satisfy the donor and serve as a valuable learning tool for your organization.
  • And the grants manager has to make sure the finance department is involved in developing the budget.

Does “grantwriter” cover all that? 


Isn’t this just nit picking? 
 So what’s the harm? Everyone knows what a “grantwriter” does. Even the prestigious Foundation Center is offering “grantwriting” classes.”A rose by any other name…etc.?  I’m not so sure. Maybe “grantwriter” does it for you but I have seen evidence that it clearly doesn’t work for everyone. Too many people in the nonprofit world believe that developing a proposal is essentially a writing job. That mind-set diminishes your chances for success.I have been seeing blog posts from “grantwriters” who have difficulty getting essential information from program staff and others in the organization who are way too busy to be bothered – “what are we paying you for anyway?”  The “grantwriter” may be capable of writing fiction but that won’t work for you. A grant that requires you to move away from your mission will cost you dearly in the long run.

I have been doing this for a long time and have always been puzzled by the fact that intelligent, well qualified program staff don’t understand that by not participating in the process, they are turning control of their projects over to the development department.  If you get the grant, they have to do what the proposal says.


Are we wasting time here?
 OK – enough already – I get it. I lost the war of words a long time ago. So I am climbing out of my foxhole to put my 35 plus years of experience to work for you.  I can offer a variety of options that can be tailored to meet your needs and your budget:

  • Those reluctant program staff members have a point: they really are too busy. Many years ago I developed a system that will streamline the process. I have presented it all over the country and I know it works.
    •  One session – Everybody participates -No writing!
    • The essence of the proposal – problem statement, objectives, activities, evaluation, etc. – grows like magic along the wall on flip charts.  Next steps, responsibilities, and time lines are clear.
    • This process works best if key staff  participate in one-time half-day or full-day workshop.  Participants in the full-day session will have the ability to run future proposal meetings on their own or use me as a facilitator and coach.
  • I can serve as the grants manager – and yes, that includes writing – for the entire proposal development process, or we can set up a contract for me to do only the orientation workshop, the proposal development meeting and one or more follow-up meetings if needed.
  • Any single grant usually covers one to three years of expenses. You want to be around longer than that. I can work with you to develop a  short- and long-term grant funding plan based your needs and the funding potential of each project.
  •  Staff turnover is very expensive; helping your existing staff grow professionally has proven to be the best way to keep them on board. I can set up a coaching program for your staff and even the board, with clear objectives regarding the skills to be developed. My coaching services include ongoing telephone contact
  • Are you feeling like a hamster running as fast as you can on that wheel, trying to paste one grant on top of another to keep your programs going? As former development director, experienced in managing all aspects of fund raising, I can also help you build and or strengthen your overall fund development capacity. My website offers a wide range of options for you to consider.

Let’s talk
You can email me at or call me at 212-501-0736. And don’t forget to check my website  to learn more about what I can do for you and to get a list of resources to support your fund raising efforts.
Whatever your current situation, do stay in touch.
All the best,
Bonnie Osinski

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