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Happy International Grant Professionals Week, and an early Happy International Grant Professionals Day!

What is this professional holiday you ask? The Grant Professionals Association launched #IGPD three years ago and states that “International Grant Professionals Day and Week is the annual celebration to recognize and show appreciation to all grant professionals.”

Last year, I challenged everyone to think about how you as a grant professional think about celebrating the success of your grant teams. Are you wondering how you others are Celebrating Success in a Grant Team? Catch up on that post here.

This year as we get ready to celebrate International Grant Professionals Week (March 6 – March 10, 2017) and International Grant Professionals Day (March 10, 2017), I am excited to be brainstorming ways that I personally can thank my awesome team for the work they do (shh, no spoiler alerts here!), the grant teams at our client’s for the work they do, and how to increase visibility of this day in the larger professional community.

Each year, I watch my spouse and his colleagues celebrate Engineer’s Week with fun building challenges in the engineering department like egg drops, soap box derby races and balsa bridge building. I wonder what a fun challenge would look like for grant professionals?

Best scored need statement section as judged by peers durig the week?

Most compelling 250 character goal statement as submitted to your local GPA chapter?

Best track record of reaching out to new potential GPA members or new professionals interested in the field?

It isn’t as easy to *see* our work as grant professionals. That is part of why the #grantswork hashtag was started this year. It is a great way to encourage us as grant professionals to highlight the amazing impact of grant funding and the work that we do. So if you are wondering how to celebrate the day or week yourself, whether your colleagues recognize you with a special lunch or other recognition, take a moment to share your #grantswork stories and pat yourself on the back for the impact you are creating through your work as a grant professional. You can check out the #grantswork stories that our team has shared over the past two years here.

How do you plan to celebrate International Grant Professionals Day? Or International Grant Professionals Week? We’d love to hear/see! Share your pictures and stories with us in the comments section on the website, via our social media pages, or by using the hashtag #IGPD.

Thank you for all YOU do to make #grantswork change our communities!

05 Feb 2017

It’s True…#GrantsWork

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It’s true…#GrantsWork
Grant professionals help to change the world one grant at a time.
We have been talking about Grant Funding in Action here on our team and our blog for the past two years as each member of our team has had the chance to see some of their grant work come to fruition in ways that they could witness in their own communities and even families.
One of my favorite #grantswork stories is one that is personal. It’s a story where I already knew the #grantswork we were doing with a client was creating great outcomes for our client and the students they served. Then I had the chance to go on the grant funded field trip that wraps up their education program with the school and see my daughter and her classmates. It was an awesome moment of my worlds colliding!
The Grant Professionals Association launched #grantswork as a hashtag last week to help grant professionals have the chance to show and tell what impact their work and funded grants are making.
Share your story with the Grant Professionals Association here so we can help spread the great news to the world about how #GrantsWork!Looking forward to hearing each of your stories!

16 Dec 2016

Takeaways from #GPAConf16

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Last month Diane, Nicole, Rena, Micki, Judy and I along with 700+ other grant professionals attended the Grant Professionals Association National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. For the last couple of years, I have watched all the fun from afar as it just wasn’t in the budget to attend. But this year I was able to attend my first GPA conference. It truly is “where the grant people meet.”

I thought I would share some of the things I took away from the conference. With over 70 workshops to choose from, it was difficult to choose which session to attend, but I did come away with great information each one I did choose.

The keynote speaker was Darian Rodriquez Heyman, an accomplished fundraiser, social entrepreneur, and best-selling author. Darian’s session focused on exploring how grant professionals can get in the door, build authentic relationships with funders, and steward them over time. His session included an interactive panel featuring representatives from some of the most impactful foundations in the metro-Atlanta region.

  • Grant Declined? Ask for feedback.
  • We [funders] fund you not because you have needs, but because you [nonprofit organizations] meet needs.
  • Grantmakers don’t give to you, they give THROUGH you!
  • Relationships determine results.
  • READ – Research, engage, apply, and deliver.
  • In God we trust, everything else we measure.

I am the Juggernaut: 7 Keys to Becoming an Unstoppable Force for Good in the World by Val Porter from Foundation Center

  • As a grant professional, you are the connection between the people you serve and the people who can invest in them.
  • You become the standard-bearer to ensure your org does what it says it will do with the money it receives.
  • Think “comparator” rather than “competitor.”

Welcome the Detours: Roadmaps for a Grant Career that Fits Your Life by Diane and Kimberly Tso

  • What can you do to adapt to your current situation?
  • What is your why? – Why do you work in the nonprofit sector? Why are you a consultant and/or employee?

Don’t Let Your Paycheck Determine Your Ethical Standards by Cyndi MacKenzie and Scot Scala

  • Unethical practices are unsustainable.
  • Why a code of ethics? Govern conduct of a person or members of an organization.

Ignite the Grant Profession – 8 speakers using the ignite presentation format

  • Supporting another’s success won’t dampen yours. – Amanda Day
  • Conserving words can also conserve clarity. – Sylvia Redic
  • It takes money to make money. – Danny Blitch

I came away with so many takeaways and action items from the sessions I attended. But truly the most important part of the conference was getting to meet and interact with other grant professionals in real life. Online communities like #GrantChat are awesome and needed, but nothing beats face-to-face interaction.


I am counting down the days until we get to do it over again at #GPAConf17.


Were you at #GPAConf16? What was your biggest takeaway from this year’s conference? We’d love to hear! Share your takeaways with us in the comments section below or via social media. Looking forward to seeing you at #GPAConf17 in San Diego!

**Note from Diane: I was thrilled when Bethany said that she was willing to write about her journey to sit for the GPC exam. I hope her story inspires you and prompts you to consider your future professional development, whether it be a certification or other next step.


Over a year ago I started the process to sit for the Grant Professional Certification (GPC) exam. It is a generalist exam that measures nine core competencies and skills of the grant profession through a 160 multiple choice section and a 90 minute writing prompt section. It is a professional certification, not a certificate of participation or an assessment-based certification, meaning if I pass the exam I can put GPC following my name to indicate I have satisfactorily met the requirements for certification. It is equated to passing the bar for lawyers or accountants becoming CPAs.

Through involvement with the Grant Professional Association (GPA) and #GrantChat, a weekly Twitter chat about grants, I came to understand the importance of becoming a Grant Professional Certified. Becoming a GPC demonstrates commitment to the profession, experience in the profession, and extensive knowledge of the profession. I knew this was something I wanted to do for me and my career.

I applied for a GPC Scholarship through the Grant Professionals Foundation to cover the cost of the exam last September and was awarded the scholarship last November! The scholarships are open once a year and “open to any individual interested in applying and eligible to sit for the exam.” After being awarded the scholarship, I completed the eligibility quiz and submitted an eligibility packet before I was allowed to sit for the exam. I spent hours and hours studying, reading blogs and books, and attending webinars. As of two weeks ago, all the work is over.

I had lots of people including many GPCs cheering me on through the whole process. A support system is so important. Knowing that these grant professionals who have gone before me and become GPCs were encouraging me on made such an impact.

I greatly expanded my knowledge of the grants profession through the process of preparing to sit for the GPC exam. I know I am a better grant professional today because of it. Now, the waiting begins to find out if I passed.


Have you thought about sitting for the GPC exam as a step in your professional development? Why or why not? We’d love to hear! Share your thoughts with us via social media or via the comments section of the website.

Last year ended with big news in philanthropy: $45,000,000,000. That’s the Facebook stock that Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg will transfer to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) for philanthropic giving. The CZI will operate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) instead of the more traditional private foundation.


CZI is not the only philanthropic LLC initiative. As a grants professional, I wonder if a grant seeking organization needs to tweak its strategy with regards to LLC giving.


For an investor, LLCs have advantages:


  • Donations can go to individuals, non-charities and organizations abroad without IRS approval
  • No transparency as its tax filings do not have to be made public
  • No restrictions against lobbying and electioneering


and disadvantages:


  • No tax advantages. Gifts to LLC are taxable until given out as donations
  • No reverse clause can destroy the tax deduction. LLCs can’t make grant agreements reverting funds if terms are breached


Ultimately, investors in a LLC vs. a private foundation will gain maximum flexibility while sacrificing some valuable tax benefits. With these attributes in mind, should a grant seeking strategy change for nonprofit organizations (NPO)? How will a NPO’s common mission be seen through the barrage of asking that a charitable LLC receives? A NPO’s strategy should focus on relationship building with deep accountability.


Trust will be vital. If a LLC gives a charitable donation, it has no assurance that a breach of agreement will mean a return of funds. It will be a gift rather than a grant. Unlike a LLC, a NPO is transparent. A good base to relationship building is ensuring that your NPO has an impeccable track record on grant requirements and reporting. To attract the attention of a philanthropic LLC, a NPO will also need to build its public presence with publicity and marketing.


Any grant seeking organization does well to build relationships with funders identified as a good match. A LLC relationship should be approached more like seeking a corporate gift rather than a foundation grant. Although LLC tax forms won’t be accessible, a lot of its organizational information and news might be.


  • If LLC has a website, visit it regularly. Watch for online application openings.
  • Follow the LLC in the news media. Sign-up for Google alerts with the LLC name.
  • Seek the LLC on social media and follow. (Facebook is an obvious follow for CZI!)
  • If LLC has a blog or newsletter, subscribe
  • Identify if anyone in your NPO has a contact with anyone in the LLC


A charitable LLC has greater control with its influence, but only benefits from a tax deduction when it makes a donation. The best approach to a LLC relationship is for a NPO to build its accountability and public presence. With the endless forms of communication available, there’s a good chance a NPO can catch the attention of a charitable LLC with similar interests.


What experience have you had with charitable LLCs so far? What questions do you still have? Share them with us in the comments section below!



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