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Forging a friendship through the GPA Journal

They say hardship can forge the strongest friendships. I'm positive I'll be friends with my GPA Journal co-author Amanda Neese for life! We had a great opportunity to research something important to us, and something important to the field: grant professional performance metrics.
Why do performance metrics matter for grant professionals? They allow us to tell a broader story of our impact as grant professionals...beyond the win rate or dollars won (both among the top 5 most commonly used metrics reported in our research). They allow us to fine tune and focus our efforts, and they help us advocate for our worth at our institutions. Pretty powerful stuff!

If you are interested in exploring a topic that impacts the grants field, I strongly encourage you to challenge yourself to write a journal article and bring a friend. A few tips for co-authoring a journal with two lead writers (and preserving your friendship):

  • Define your roles clearly so everyone knows what they are responsible for. We leaned on Amanda's research background to guide the research design and data analysis. She led me gently through the IRB approval process (I am now certified with the CITI Program, thank you very much). I jumped in and provided solid support on the literature review, created and managed our project timeline, and became the resident four year old (why?).
  • Choose a lead voice to avoid competing voices and streamline ideas. We often do this in our organizations (serve as the lead voice) and it is helpful to clearly define who is going to own and drive the ideas in the article. Amanda gave me permission to question the conclusions we were drawing in our research and challenge our terminology. I provided editing support, stepped in and wrote support pieces, and incorporated reviewer feedback into the article. This partnership, and trust, made our resulting article stronger and clearer.
  • Set up a standing time to meet and discuss the research and keep your meetings no matter what. Consistent contact is the only thing that will keep your idea alive amidst your professional deadlines and personal life changes.
  • Partner with the GPA Journal team for external accountability and support. When we submitted our journal proposal to the publications committee, we gave ourselves a new layer of external accountability. This motivated us to keep our commitment to the journal and our gpa colleagues. The committee gave us helpful and encouraging feedback which helped keep us going forward.
  • Print your journal proposal and keep it visible to keep you focused and on task. We went back to this often during the data collection and analysis process to remind ourselves of what we wanted to accomplish with the research (squirrel!).
I am so thankful we had the chance to do this research and start an important conversation about how we show our value as grant professionals. Thank you to the wonderful team of grant professionals who volunteer to make the GPA Journal a wonderful resource for our association. To learn more about writing for the journal or to read topics from your peers, head over to the GPA Journal website at

Julie Boll, M.Ed., GPC, is the founder of Julie Boll Consulting, which provides strategic planning, leadership training, and grant writing for nonprofits. Since establishing her consulting firm in 2018, Boll has helped her clients develop bold and actionable strategic plans and secure more than $3 million in foundation and state grants. She previously worked in higher education and from 2011 to 2017, raised more than $6.6M from foundation, state, and federal grants for the university including the university's first National Science Foundation grant in over 25 years and a $2.2M US Department of Education grant. Julie has more than 18 years experience in the nonprofit sector, serving in marketing, public relations and grant development roles. She is a certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, and, in 2019, was a part of the inaugural global cohort of professionals selected by thought-leader Dr. Brené Brown to bring her work on developing more courageous leaders to nonprofits. Julie is also a certified McNellis Compression Planning® facilitator. She received the Grants Professional Certified (GPC) credential in 2015 and became a GPA Approved trainer in 2018. Julie holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations and a Masters Degree in Education, both from Quincy University.