Learn More to Win More Grants

Make FOMO work for you.

First, I want to go on record as saying that chronic Fear Of Missing Out is not a healthy way to live your life. Rushing from meeting to meeting, scrolling through your social media feeds into the wee hours, or insisting that you can actually multitask a Zoom meeting, multiple deadlines, and Halloween cupcakes will not equal a happy life.

Instead, I choose to funnel my FOMO into ABL(always be learning). I’ve been a grant professional for more than 25 years, and I am confident in my ability to string together coherent sentences that completely answer a series of questions. But grant development is so much more than that—probably 80% of my time now as a consultant goes toward assisting in program and budget development, coaching directors and faculty members through prospect research, and (cue creepy organ riff) the seemingly Byzantine requirements and tight deadlines of most COVID relief funding.

The FOMO to ABL transition is easy to spell, but hard to put into practice. One of the best ways I’ve found to stay abreast of trends, tips, and occasional informal commiseration sessions is through the annual Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Conference.

However, it took me a couple of years of attending it before I found my footing. The jam-packed schedule, myriad networking events, and social outings gave me FOMO—maybe even before FOMO was cool. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or attending online or in-person, professional development conferences like GPA’s can leave you feeling overwhelmed and even exhausted. In the latest episode of the Fundraising HayDay podcast [Getting the Most from Professional Conferences (podbean.com)] co-host Amanda Day and I divulge our tips for thriving during a busy conference, rather than just surviving.

The most important advice nugget I have for you in transitioning from FOMO to ABL? Grant writer—Know Thyself (and thy session schedule)!  Carve out about 20 minutes from what must be your copious free time as a grant pro, am I right? Use those precious moments to pick two or three “must-do” sessions and make sure you have some built-in downtime.

This is true even if you’re attending virtually. Staring at PowerPoints and hearing disembodied voices for 5-6 hours straight does not a healthy, updated grant pro make—even if you’re doing it in your favorite pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers.

Another great way to combat FOMO at a professional conference is simply to admit defeat. You will never remember every single thing you learned, become best friends with every lovely person you met, or implement every tech tool tip you heard about. That’s okay! In fact, that’s the reality of attending professional conferences. Give yourself the grace of acting on three takeaways, connecting with one person or vendor, and learning one new tech tool. Then you’ll find yourself letting go of FOMO and embracing ABL, and winning more grants in the process.


DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 4 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 3 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.


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