by Gail Picco, August 25, 2021
You Have a Hammer: Building Grant Proposals for Social Change, Barbara Floersch, Civil Sector Press, January 26, 2021, 115 pp., $28.95
In You Have a Hammer, Barbara Floersch, who assumes the grantwriter knows how to fill in an application, is more interested in how charities and grantwriters are positioning themselves in relation to those with the money to make or break their missions.
In her introduction, she urges the reader to be well-grounded in what you’re fighting for.
“… if you fail to understand the essence of the work, the dollars in your pocket won’t amount to much when it comes to impact,” she writes.
Floersch has more than 40 years’ experience in nonprofit administration, grant proposal development, grant management, grant reviewing, and nonprofit consulting. In 2015 she updated and expanded Norton Kiritz’s Grantsmanship: Program Planning & Proposal Writing, a seminal work in the field originally published in 1972, and considered “the bible” of grantwriting by many American fundraisers.
She calls a grant proposal “a particular form of advocacy.”
By developing and submitting a grant proposal, you’re taking a high-profile stand on an issue and waving a flag to rally assistance and energy. You do the community organizing and collaboration that are required to bring people together and incite action, and when the proposal is righteous, a rejection of your grant request doesn’t stop the momentum. Committed organizations stay the course, make the case, talk it up, and continue to reach out until the necessary pieces, including funding, are in place.
Build partnerships with funders. Be proactive. Exchange ideas. Get to know each other. Make a righteous ask, says Floersch.
A righteous ask is a funding request grounded in a community need that is well aligned with the funder’s mission and put forth by a well-respected nonprofit in pursuit of impact rather than dollars.
In a world where foundations get richer and the communities who are the recipients of their grantmaking, Floersch is seeking to apply some balance to the imbalance that exists between granter and grantee. And she counsels that any grantseeking organization be rooted in the community it serves and use the leverage of community involvement to get things done. Bring prospective grantmakers to the table early in a project’s life, so that when you get to the money part, it’s not actually about money, it’s about change.
“Grantmakers and nonprofits need each other. Funders need the expertise, community access, and muscle of nonprofits. Nonprofits need grantmakers’ resources as well as their honest, transparent partnership," Floersch writes.
It is a refreshing approach that’s built around identifying, working with and getting support for demonstrated community need.
Barbara Floersch quotes the godfather of US grantseeking Norton Kiritz who admonished grantseekers to stand tall when he thundered, “You’re applicants, not supplicants. Don’t beg.”
And at an economical 115 pages, You Have a Hammer contains an accessible, durable lesson, perfect for our times.
More reviews by Gail Picco
David Love: Thoughts of an Environmental Fundraiser April 30, 2021
What Bears Teach Us: The push and pull of co-existence December 8, 2020
Begin Again by Eddie Glaude: James Baldwin as a Man for our Time November 30, 2020
She Proclaims: The necessity of women persistently proclaiming October 20, 2020
The reputation of philanthropy: A history of the facts September 18, 2020