Elevate’s Back-to-School Reading List: Our top picks for books to build your grant writing toolbox!

September 21, 2022

Elevate’s staff is a “bookish” bunch! From the latest novels to nonfiction audiobooks, many conversations among Elevate staff revolve around books. (We even have a few published authors on staff!)

Here, we share our team’s top picks for books that have contributed to their grant writing prowess.

The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need by Ellen Karsh

Elevate Grant Writer Amy O’Barr recommends The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need by Ellen Karsh. Amy describes this book as, “A must for any grant writer’s library!” The guide starts at the ground level with grant writing, covering everything from the basics such as vocabulary,  up to writing about organizational sustainability. Currently in the 5th edition, readers can be assured that the info is timely and relevant. Bonus: tips from grantmakers!


Good Writing by Connie Snyder Mick

Grant Writer Sam Murphy suggests Good Writing by Connie Snyder Mick for folks who want “a solid refresher on the basics of persuasive writing and argumentative rhetoric.” Often found on syllabi for writing courses, this textbook is designed to equip writers for social action.



Grassroots Grants: An Activist’s Guide to Grantseeking by Andy Robinson

Amy describes Grassroots Grants as “A no-frills classic for grantseekers.” With an emphasis on activism, this guide includes actual proposals and budgets with commentary on what works and what doesn’t. The second edition was published back in 2004, so some of the resources included in this book may be a little outdated. Still, the how-to on grant writing and budgets is spot on for grant writers today.


Winning Grants Step by Step by Tori O’Neal-McElrath

Another recommendation by Amy, Winning Grants Step by Step is a workbook that guides both novice and experienced grant writers through the grant process from organizational readiness to funder networking. Amy says that the “concise format and many worksheets are ideal for organizations starting a grants



The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grant Writing by Waddy Thompson

Supervising Director Raquel Braemer, suggests that new grant writers check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grant Writing. She says, “I found this book incredibly helpful. It walks you through every stage in the grant writing process, providing examples and tips along the way. Everything is divided into very clear sections, so you can find some insight or a template quickly when you need one.”


Grant Writing for Dummies by Beverly A. Browning

Another top pick for newbies, Amy also recommends Grant Writing for Dummies. She says, “This comprehensive guide is a perfect primer for those interested in grant writing but unsure where to start.” Written by an industry expert, this book dives into government grants, an area that many grant books do not cover.



Of course, we don’t only read up on grant writing! Here are a few titles Elevate staff recommend to build a greater understanding of philanthropy and nonprofits:

And finally, because effective grant writing is as much about understanding the social context as it is about great writing, here are a few of our favorite books about social change:

What books have made you a better grant writer, leader, and changemaker? We’d love to hear from you!