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It Depends...

Every grant writer who has been on the job for at least six months has had some variation of this conversation. These questions lend themselves to a typical grant writer refrain: "People don't understand what I do!"

Q.        How long does it take to write a grant?
A.         It depends.
Q.        How do you know who would be interested in your grant proposal?
A.         It depends.
Q.        How long does it take to get a grant?
A.         It depends.
Every grant writer who has been on the job for at least six months has had some variation of this conversation. These questions lend themselves to a typical grant writer refrain: "People don't understand what I do!"
While these questions may sometimes be tiresome, they also highlight the uniqueness and complexities of our grants world. Because of these issues, we need an organization like GPA where we can come together and say, "Ah, these people get me!" And we are grateful to have the GPC credential that validates our expertise and experience and lets the world know we are skilled professionals.
Without these questions, we also wouldn't have a day when we can promote and honor our chosen profession. So, as we approach, the Second Annual International Grant Professionals Day, let's celebrate our uniqueness. Here's what some of our colleagues had to say about what makes the grants profession so special and different.
This week I had an opportunity to research parrot conservation, sickle cell anemia funders, Georgia poverty stats, and received an invitation to fundraise for a healthcare agency that "communicates in word and deed the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ." I'm not sure I could ask for such a diverse workload without going to journalism school.
The grants profession is always evolving! There isn't one single facet of grant writing that is static. Everything – from the political sphere to the economy to shifts in cultural perspective – can affect a grant professional's work.
Kristyn Conner
Your job as a grant writing professional is to take what can be a very technical exercise and write about a project or organization to provide a glimpse of the passion which ignited it; the personality that keeps it going; a sense of freshness in the approach; the authority of experience; the support of the community; and the fiscal responsibility to keep it going. All in about 2000 characters.
Janina Edwards
…as grant writers we get to be “jacks of all trades”. On one hand, you need strong analytical skills to comprehend the scope and breadth of the programs you'll represent through your writing. At the same time, it takes ingenuity to craft proposals that encompass the spirit of your organization while inspiring a donor to give generously – and that's all before the site visit! I love this profession because it affords me the opportunity to use both sides of my brain.
Bethany Fields
What other profession is more misunderstood by others, lacks a formal degree program, and yet requires the skills of an industry veteran?  We have so many roles we must enter into as grants professionals; researcher, budget creator, financial manager, program planner, storyteller, relationship cultivator, cheerleader, investigative reporter, program manager, site hostess, problem solver, team coordinator & reminder, deadline crunch master, and organizational Einstein. We don't just have one or two specializations; we have to know a little bit of everything; and yet no one outside of our peers really seems to understand what it is exactly we do with our time.
Jamie Healy
Grant professionals develop a unique perspective on their organization, field, and philanthropy overall. We dig into the details of the services that we support while keeping a finger on the pulse of the larger political and philanthropic landscape… As grant professionals, we toggle between these levels to connect our organizations to the resources they need to fulfill their missions today and in the future.
Jen Hurst, M.A.
The grant profession is unique because it is still a rapidly growing and evolving profession. It is still often a career we arrive at as a result of a winding path. The majority of current grant professionals did not enter undergraduate or graduate work saying that they were going to school to become grant professionals. Yet the profession continues to advance and grow… There are fewer blank stares out in the community when someone hears that you are a grant writer. There is more respect in the nonprofit sector for the work done by grant professionals. There is a dedication among professionals in the field to continue to elevate our work, increase formal teaching, and help new professionals find a slightly more direct path to this rewarding career.
Diane Leonard, GPC
Grant Professionals are in a unique and fortunate position to be involved with change agents who have a passion for social issues that result in significant improvements in the communities they serve. Our important role is to guide, strategize and plan with our partners to implement evidence-based services and programs to reach positive, measurable outcomes. We write, budget, develop, advise, and research on incredibly diverse topics which keep us from ever getting bored
Cyndi MacKenzie
Our profession is successful when we see lives changing for the better, an improvement in the environment, and animals receiving heartfelt care. We succeed when others are able to do work to improve the quality of life.
Shelia McCann

Much of my youth was spent idolizing Nancy Drew, writing stories and essays, and researching interesting topics at my local library. When I was younger, I wanted to be a detective, a writer, and a journalist. Writing grants—particularly those for public safety… Well, in a way it allows me to be all three!  Applying for grants enables me research and write, and some grants awarded to my agency do help law enforcement solve crimes. My job is a nearly perfect combination of the things I enjoy most.
Rebekah L. Ricardo
Our profession attracts people from diverse backgrounds who are all committed to supporting others! All of the work we do is for the benefit of someone else, usually a mission-driven non-profit or perhaps a talented individual, whose efforts are aimed at creating positive change in the world. We are lucky enough to serve as the conduit between those who have the skills to do good and those who have the resources to support that work. What could be more gratifying?
Jodi Samuels, PhD
I've done various jobs but have never had my effort tie so directly to doing good…Working on my own as a consultant, I put great effort into each grant application I write, and I have control over the costs. When a grant is awarded, I can directly tie my efforts to someone's ability to do better in life. That is a great feeling!
Micki Vandeloo, GPC
Q.  Is your job as a grant professional unlike any other?
A.  Most definitely!



By: Carlos Zeped
On: 03/02/2016 09:57:53
Great post, I want to add though that the profession also transcends cultures and geographical boundaries. The issues and elements of "grant speak" are consistent regardless of the generation of the grant writer. Thanks for this article.

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