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You walk in the door and back into the office and let out a huge sigh of simultaneous exhaustion, excitement and disappointment.

Exhaustion after four days full of professional dialogue and sharing about all things grant related.

Excitement over all of the amazing things you have learned, tools you want to try and colleagues you have connected with over the past four days.

Disappointment over the 364 days that stand between  you and another amazing National Conference for the Grant Professionals Association.

There were so many great lessons shared, one line moments that encapsulate our work as grant professionals, and many other memories made in St. Louis at the Grant Professionals’ Association’s National Conference (#gpaconf15). I wanted to share a few of my favorite in images with you here (stay tuned for posts inspired by these lessons learned over the next few months).

Conferences can be tough on us physically – lots of sitting in sessions – early breakfast meetings, and dinners talking shop that go late into the night. That is why the run/walk group that I co-host with Jo Miller (@jm_grants) is my favorite way to start each morning at the GPA conference. It’s always a great way to explore the host city and check out restaurant selections for later that night!

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What is International Grant Professionals Week you ask?

I’m so glad you asked! DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services is proud to be a partner in the first annual International Grant Professionals Week led by the Grant Professionals Association.

International Grant Professionals Week recognizes and celebrates the impact of grant professionals, administrators, consultants, managers, grant-makers and writers for their beneficial contributions to people, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. International Grant Professionals Week is an annual international celebration of the professionals who seek, award, and implement grant-funded projects.

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You can create the most well written application, with all i’s and t’s dotted and crossed, with excellent collaborative partners in place, and with strong evaluation and sustainability plans.  However, if you are not submitting those well written and effective applications to the most appropriate and well-suited potential resources for your organization, your hard work could be for naught.


Competency 1: Developing an Effective Grant Application

There are so many components that go into creating an effective grant application; one that is concise, compelling, and makes a strong connection to the funder’s priorities.  Engaging stakeholders, identifying research related to your proposed evidence-based practices, and utilizing logic models are all part of creating an effective application.

Convening a “grant team” and soliciting their input early on as well as throughout the grant application design and drafting process is a critical component of creating an effective grant application.  In some situations, working groups have already been established and in others, you as the grant professional are charged with identifying and assembling a grant team for an application.

Balancing who to define as a stakeholder and invite to the grant team table can be tricky to navigate as you work to create a group that takes into account both the big picture strategic planning issues as well as the detailed planning necessary to fully design the application and budget.

Having the right team in place to support your work as a grant professional is critical as the collective knowledge and resources that they bring to the team will assist you in crafting an effective application that addresses best practices in evaluation for your field, utilizes tools like logic models to convey the program’s goals and objectives, and thoroughly answers the question about how a program will be sustained after the grant period is over.


Competency 3: Identifying and Matching Funding Resources

The tools you use as a grant professional in developing your effective grant application are a critical aspect of your success.  One of the most critical tools you will utilize in crafting an effective grant application is the grant funder research that you conduct as part of your identification of potential resources to support your program or organization goals.

Whether looking to identify resources at the private, state, or federal level, the identifying and matching of potential funding resources to the needs of your organization is like a jigsaw puzzle.  It takes the correct utilization of numerous tools to gather all the necessary information to put together as complete a picture of the funder’s priorities, process, and history before making an relationship focused outreach.

You need to focus on balancing the information found through paid databases with that of free resources such as,, or Foundation Center’s 990 finder and finally with the materials directly from the source including the funder’s website, annual report etc.  Piecing that research together to assemble your grant research jigsaw puzzle will position you for the strongest relationship building conversation or email with a potential funder, and ultimately help you determine if you will be as competitive as necessary in their application process.


8 Competencies for Grant Professionals

In order to become a certified grant professional, I had to demonstrate my competency in 8 areas as defined by the Grant Professionals Certification Institute.  These eight competencies are critical to the work I do and the work I do with my team.  Those of us that are GPCs are so passionate about our certification and increasing awareness of the competencies, that five of us decided to write about each competency.  You can see pieces about each competency through their links below:

1: Effective Grant Applications (which I covered in this post)

2: What Your Grant Professional Knows Could be Worth Millions! (Program Design & Organizational Development) – by Jo Miller, GPC

3: Funding Resources (which I also covered in this post)

4: What Your Grant Professional Knows Could be Worth Millions! (Program Design & Organizational Development) – by Jo Miller, GPC

5: Improving Our Profession through Ethical Practice and Professional Development – by Heather Stombaugh, GPC

6: Grant Management – by Jana Hexter, GPC

7: Constructing Grantee/Grantor Relationships (Cultivate & Maintain Relationships) – by Mark Whitacre, GPC

8: Improving Our Profession through Ethical Practice and Professional Development (Raise the Level of Professionalism) – by Heather Stombaugh, GPC


What are your thoughts about the competencies required of those working to become certified grant professionals?  Do you agree that they are all critical skills for grant professionals to hold?  Do you think that there are any competencies that are overlooked in this list of eight?

If you would like to have more dialogue about these 8 competencies for certified grant professionals, I would encourage you to join me (@dianehleonard) with my co-moderator Jo Miller (@jm_grants) during #grantchat (a weekly Twitter chat for grant professionals on Tuesdays at 12pm ET) as we complete an eight week series discussing one of the competencies each week.  You can find more information about the upcoming chats and take a peek at the previous week’s dialogues here.


A weekly tweet chat for grant professionals


February 4th @ 12pm ET

Topic:  Capturing Local Know-how

with guest: Amanda Day (@wholewheatgirl), President, Grant Professionals Certification Institute (@gpcinstitute)




Via Twitter

Use #grantchat to take part in the hour long discussion that will be moderated by GPA Members and Social Committee Members – Diane H. Leonard, GPC (@dianehleonard) of DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services and Jo Miller, GPC (@jm_grants) of JM Grants.

Interested in actively participating or helping to support and grow the #grantchat community?  Here are some easy steps you can do to accomplish that:

  1. Share this post with your social networks!
  2. Suggest topics that we should address this year (use the comments section below).
  3. Participate in the conversation. Even if you can only join in for part of the conversation, or want to “lurk” for some questions and only actively participate for others, we want to hear from you!  Don’t forget to follow and use the #grantchat hashtag.


#grantchat is supported by

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