How many of you knew by age 12 that you wanted to be a grant professional when you grew up? I’m guessing no one, because who even knew this was a profession when we were in middle school? Maybe your kids know now, but if they are anything like mine, they think it is the most boring profession in the world. My two have no desire to spend their days writing. But I’m here to tell them, and you, that being a grant professional is so much more than sitting behind a computer and coming up with words to put to the page.
Grant professionals are superheroes, and I have the WonderWoman armbands to prove it! Who else in your organization gets to match the needs of the community with the right funders, all while pulling a variety of information from your colleagues to submit an application with varying rules and regulations and an immovable deadline? To do this successfully, grant professionals must:
- Have a high command of the written word, following all the rules of grammar and punctuation
- Understand budgets, procurement policies, and financial statements to build a useable and accurate project budget and track all grant expenditures
- Be able to build consensus within an organization to bring forth the project that best suits the needs of the community and the requirements of the grant
- Balance what the leaders of your organization think grants should do with what grants can do
- Communicate with a variety of colleagues, board members, and community members to understand a wide array of subjects and projects that require funding
- Be able to shepherd a project from start to finish
- Figure out the variety of platforms and software used to create and submit grant proposals for a variety of funders – even when the platform is new and does not work for anyone (i.e., JustGrants)
- Communicate with funders to keep them informed of your grant process
- Have the ability to herd cats – because that is precisely what managing a grant application process looks like
That list? It’s not exhaustive, but it does highlight the variety of skills needed to be a successful grant pro. If you can juggle all that, all while churning out grant proposal after grant proposal, chances are you are building skills that will allow you to find success in so many aspects of our field. Because the title grant professional does not simply equal grant writer. We can do that and so much more.
As a grant professional, you must manage a plethora of deadlines, personalities, statistics, data, and stories. Those abilities serve you well in many aspects of our profession and other fields. I have seen grant professionals parlay their skills into the work of project managers, executive directors, city managers, trainers, speakers, software creators, authors, and so much more. The sky is the limit! Don’t believe me? Check out the latest episode of Fundraising HayDay. Kimberly and I interviewed Dana Schuler Drummond, grant professional extraordinaire, who is also a college adjunct professor and creator of grant management software: Career Paths for Grant and Fundraising Professionals (podbean.com).
Grant professionals have skills galore. Make your 12-year-old-self proud. Use those skills to find the work you love best, whether you change the world through writing, management, leadership, or something else altogether. Being a grant professional means we find ourselves involved in the grant field – and what a field it is!
DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 5 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 4 and stay up to date on the new season here.
Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.