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How Foundations Work (a book review)

Book review: Winning Foundation Grants by M. Teitel

I just finished reading a good book by Martin Teitel called "Winning Foundation Grants: A Foundation CEO Reveals The Secrets You Need to Know." If you are an experienced grant seeker, this is a valuable book. If you are brand new to grant seeking, you may not be able to follow along quite as well but will still benefit from the tips.


I don't want to violate his copyright or keep you from reading the book yourself but I did learn a few things I didn't know (even after years of writing grants). Some of these things are common sense but I had just never seriously reflected on them. Some gems include:

  • Remember that foundation boards usually have at least one banker/accountant on them. During the discussion of your proposal, you can be sure they will flip to your budget and start checking your math. If you have an error, they will find it and it will be a GREAT excuse not to fund your organization.

  • In your proposal, spend less time talking about the problem and more time talking about your solution. Don't drown the reader in "the abyss of negativity and despair."

  • Don't ever call a potential funder at home (I know, I can't imagine that anyone would. But I guess they do.)

  • If you plan to make an end-run around the foundation staff and talk directly to a board member you know, you will likely offend the staff member whose help you need in the future.

These are just a few of the hundreds of tips - some of them quite funny - that Teitel shares.


If you are someone who learns best from reading books, I cannot recommend this book enough. I pass it along to my staff and interns. It is one of those resources I keep grabbing.

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