Celebrating Success In A Grant Team

Last Friday was International Grant Professional’s Day as the capstone for International Grant Professional’s Week. It was a fantastic week as there is so much to celebrate and be excited within the grant profession! In fact, I’m still in a celebratory mood, and that celebratory mood has me pondering how it is that we celebrate our work as grant professionals, and *when* we celebrate with our grant teams.

Do we celebrate minor daily victories as a grant team? 

Do we celebrate when a large application is successfully submitted? 

Or do we only celebrate when a grant award is made?

I was at a client’s office this week for a grant team meeting for some strategy planning sessions. The team had just completed a large grant application the week prior. The process had gone smoothly with weekly check-ins, digest emails outlining progress on specific tasks, a great mock review process of the full application by our team, and ultimately an application that was submitted early. It was a big reason to celebrate even though it was “only” the submission of an application, not a grant award. I arrived at the grant team meeting with a large bag full of Girl Scout cookies – Thin Mints, Samoas and Tagalongs.

The team was surprised and excited. There were enough cookies for each member of the grant team to grab a box for their office/team/home. “Why had I arrived with the cookies?” 

Let’s rewind to when we started the project, when as with most projects that have a large grant team, I asked one of my favorite meeting check-in questions to get to know a grant team, “What is your caffeine or motivation of choice during tight deadlines?” I am avid coffee drinker, but have embraced tea recently in order to keep my consumption to two cups a day, so I love to talk all things coffee and tea with team members. I was surprised though to have a team member say that they don’t consume any caffeine on purpose, and really never have as an adult. It was actually a great team-building moment for the organization as this was apparently a new discussion and discovery about each other’s preferences and approach to motivation or fuel for a project for the team as a whole. We moved on to the team meeting, and the discussion was set aside.

That is until I prompted the group with a different check-in question during the next meeting, “What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?” Now *that* was a question that everyone got excited about. We talked about freezing Thin Mints, putting peanut butter on Thin Mints to make a modified Tagalong, dunking Trefoils in tea, and the fantastic yumminess of Samoas (yes, those are my favorite!).

Why take the time to ask these check-in questions? First and foremost, they help bring grant teams together about a non-grant conversation as often the teams are not natural teams within an organization and all players may not know each other well. Secondly, but also critically important, I am on the hunt in all client and project interactions for unique ways to help celebrate the successes of the team. Whether it is having a fruit platter delivered to a meeting that we are participating in remotely, sending handwritten notes after a project is complete, or arriving in person with a bag of Girl Scout cookies (I do try to balance the healthy choices in with our celebrations.), I want to help grant teams celebrate throughout the year, not only when they receive a grant award, or during International Grant Professionals Week.

In my true client story, the Girl Scout cookies were a twist on verbal praise, email gold stars, or a team lunch paid for by the organization and I am already brainstorming how to celebrate the next success of that grant team.


How do you celebrate your work and your colleague’s work during the year? I’d love to hear! Share your celebrations with us in the comments section below or via social media! Or, let us know what YOUR favorite Girl Scout cookie is so that I am prepared to help you celebrate your next great achievement as a grant professional.

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