What is a grant writer? Does a grant writer “just” fill out forms all day? Or “just” spend their time writing all day?
It is always an interesting conversation when someone has not met, worked with, or interacted with a grant professional before to explain to them what a grant writer or as many of us now prefer as members of the Grant Professionals Association, what a grant professional is. I had the good fortune to have that conversation again the other day. I will admit, I always enjoy these conversations as it gives me the opportunity to understand how our profession is viewed by the public. (Everyone knows what a teacher is, what a doctor is, what a lawyer is…not everyone knows what a grant writer is.) It also gives me the opportunity to explain what it means to be not just a grant writer, but a grant professional, and one step further, not just a grant professional, but a Grant Professional Certified (GPC) through the Grant Professional Certification Institute.
In this specific conversation, it was a pleasant dialogue about the work that I do, the variety of clients that my team and I work with, and the success that we have for our clients. However, the acquaintance surprised me at the end of the conversation by saying, “You know, you shouldn’t be called a grant *writer* or a grant *professional* but rather a grant *getter.*”
A humorous, yet interesting point. I think grant professional is actually the mix of the grant *writer* and the grant *getter* idea because we know that there are so many factors that go into grant awards that we as professionals have no control over. We also know that we do so much more than “just” write. We work on program design in the pre-planning phase. We work on aligning the strategic plan of the organization with its annual grant seeking strategy and grant calendar. We draft narrative sections with crazy word and character limits. We draft budgets with our colleagues in finance that tell the story of the proposed program. We work with evaluators to design program evaluation that will be included in and funded through the proposal.
It has been a few years since these professional photo collages circulated – I think that the one about being a grant writer was pretty accurate so I wanted to share it with you again today in case you forgot about it, or hadn’t seen it the first time it was released.
How do you define being a grant writer? What do you think that the job entails? Do you prefer to be called a grant professional? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.