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Grantwriting is a term that was first widely used in the nonprofit community during the 1970s to describe the process of writing, thinking about and organizing a proposal for funding or financial support, typically from a governmental or foundation source. A grants is a unilateral transfer of funds from one tax-exempt source to another. In this important sense, a grant can be distinguished from a gift or donation, which is a similar unilateral transfer from a taxable to an exempt entity. (The process of soliciting gifts or donations from taxable sources is most often referred to as fundraising.

Although the term is still widely used, it is now generally recognized that it is not the process of actually writing the grant which is most important, but the associated processes of program planning (sometimes also termed strategic planning, establishing and mobilizing resource (sometimes termed social capital formation or networking) that are most important.