Note from Diane: We each take a different path into our work as first grant writers and then grant professionals. Understanding how other professionals approach their professional development is a great way to get ideas to help expand and enhance your own approach to professional development. I am thrilled to add Jane Nelson’s perspective to our conversation.
My professional development in the grants field is an ongoing combination of formal
and informal training. The foundation of my training was a formal program (online and
on-site) consisting of grant researching, proposal writing, budgeting, and professional
When I was ready to begin my grant work, I did pro bono work for several non-profit
organizations to gain experience and to get exposure. I intentionally chose projects that
were across various fields of interest.
Continuous learning is important to me! I take advantage of various scheduled and on-
demand learning opportunities. There are many live and recorded webinars covering a
wide range of grant-related topics offered by the Grant Professionals Association (GPA)
and the Foundation Center. I especially like the GPA’s webinars because they are
presented with clarity and expertise. I must admit, I’ve listened to a recorded webinar,
in the middle of writing a proposal, when I needed guidance on how to present
something in the best way possible.
The Foundation Center is a valuable resource. Their GrantSpace service offers tools
and resources including a Knowledge Base, webinars, and sample documents from
winning proposals (cover letters, letters of inquiry, proposals, and budgets). If you don’t
have a subscription to Foundation Center, many libraries, community foundations, and
other non-profit resource centers have subscriptions as part of the Funding Information Network. You can go to the Foundation Center’s website and enter your zip code to find the Foundation Center network closest
Among my prized reference books are Grantepreneur (Katherine F.H. Heart), Perfect
Phrases for Writing Grant Proposals (Dr. Beverly Browning), and the Guide to Proposal
Writing (The Foundation Center). I also keep Concise Rules of APA Style (American
Psychological Association) close by for writing and formatting standards, and guidelines
on citing and crediting sources.
I recommend joining an association for grant professionals. This gives the opportunity
to network with other professionals in the grant industry. Attending professional
association’s conferences provides the venue to improve your professional knowledge,
competence, skill, and effectiveness. I also suggest joining grant professional groups
on LinkedIn and joining the GrantZone (GPA) community.
If you have the flexibility, you can broaden your view of the grant industry by working in
different roles or positions. Professional development may also come from on-the- job