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Grantsmanship as a Career

I don’t usually yell across the table or offer hints when I meet folks in social settings. The conversation turns to jobs and inevitably someone asks, “What do you do?” I look them square in the eyes and state, in as matter-of-fact tone as possible, “I’m a grant professional.” Locking eyes, I stare and wait. Some smile coyly, looking away for someone else to talk to. Others laugh nervously, shuffling off to the restroom, and a few act as if they need a minute to process what I just said. I let the comment fall like a frozen comet from outer space.

Are You a GPC Yet?

Prepare for the GPC Exam: Earn Your Grant Professional Certified Credential

Danny Blitch is the organizing editor and coauthor of Prepare for the GPC Exam: Earn Your Grant Professional Certified Credential, a fun and upbeat In the Trenches manual published by CharityChannel Press.

The manual is a complete exam-prep guide that:

  • Covers the history of the exam and eligibility to take it
  • Devotes a chapter to each of the core competencies
  • Explains in detail the writing prompt and how it’s scored
  • Provides a bonus tenth chapter on strategies to reduce test anxiety

Sales of the guide will support the Grant Professionals Foundation and the Giving Back GPC Exam Scholarships.

Occasionally, I meet a tenured college professor, a police sergeant, or nonprofit executive director. They immediately infer that I must write grants for a living. Ah yes, writing all day. In my bookshelf-lined study. At my whirling typewriter. I must seem a dreadful bore. They often make sour faces, joke how sorry they are for me, or tell me they work with someone who is a “grant writer.” They might say, “Do you know Jane Bean? She works with me.” I usually reply, “Oh yes, we write stuff together all the time.”

I’m a Grant Professional

It’s not that I am embarrassed or don’t want to talk to people about my job. It’s just that only a limited few will understand what I do. Being a grant professional isn’t like being a firefighter, a doctor, or an attorney. But, then again, there are many jobs in the fire service and a firefighter is only one. Other jobs are fire marshal, paramedic, rescue/search/recovery specialist, and of course, fire chief. Doctors might work in the emergency room while others serve as primary-care physicians. There are specialists, general practitioners, oncologists, and surgeons—all doctors. Lawyers prosecute criminals for years and then become defense attorneys. They start a firm with other lawyers and handle torts, civil and criminal litigation, or go into real estate law. Others work at the capitol as lobbyists—just before “retiring” to the bench as a judge.

I think it is time to coin a new phrase, similar to firefighters, doctors, and attorneys. How about “GPCs”? We would pronounce it “GeePeeCees,” just like the accounting profession has CPAs or “CeePeeAs.” Everyone knows pretty much what a CPA does for a living! Grant professionals of all manner and types can earn their Grant Professional Certified credential.

Grant professionals are writers, change agents, and thought leaders. We develop grant projects and sustain grant programs. Grantmakers, funders, agencies and their program officers do work for donors, legislators, and taxpayers. We seek grants and give grants. We serve constituents and beneficiaries.

Grant researchers find the grant opportunities. Grant managers implement the projects and programs. Grant accountants track the budget and manage the reporting processes. Program evaluators review and analyze outcomes and output data. Grant professionals do it all again by putting into words the need, the solution, and the expected results.

Grantsmanship Is a Career

Grantsmanship is a career. If you don’t believe me, just look in the job want ads. Sure, you will find a few jobs with grant or grants in the title, while many job listings won’t mention the word grant. Either way, the job candidate had better know a little something about grantsmanship. City managers, executive directors, chief executive officers, city attorneys, finance directors, budget directors, development directors, directors of institutional research, auditors, accountants, community development directors, etc. all need to have grantsmanship skills or, at least, know a grant professional.

Think of all the grant professionals you know who are also city managers, executive directors, chief executive officers, or attorneys. Yep, it’s a career.

Meanwhile, as I sit there, socializing, waiting for the frozen comet to hit, I wonder if these folks were asked in their last job interview about grants? What exactly did they say to the hiring manager? I imagine they said, “You know Jane Bean. She used to work with me.”

Prepare for the GPC Exam

Show off your skills by earning your credential. The Grant Professional Certified (GPC) is administered by the Grant Professionals Certification Institute and is the premier credential in the grant profession.

Three of my colleagues and I wrote a book about preparing for the GPC exam. The manual, Prepare for the GPC Exam: Earn Your Grant Professional Certified Credential, is a fun and upbeat In the Trenches manual published by CharityChannel Press. I’d love to hear what you think of the manual!

 

Danny Blitch, GPC

About the Contributor: Danny Blitch, GPC

Danny W. Blitch II is an original GPC, receiving the credential in 2008. He serves as the Grants Manager for the City of Roswell, Georgia, where he is responsible for a municipal grant program which has been awarded more than $65 million in grants.

Danny is a frequent speaker, presenter, and trainer. His career in grants includes experience at a municipality, a county board of education, a regional development center, a state university’s development office, and as a grant development consultant. He has more than twenty years of experience with federal, state, and local government grants; private donations; fundraising; and project management. As a consultant, his work has produced more than $24 million in government grants for clients nationwide.

Prepare for the GPC Exam: Earn Your Grant Professional Certified CredentialHe is the organizing editor and coauthor of Prepare for the GPC Exam: Earn Your Grant Professional Certified Credential (CharityChannel Press, 2016). The manual was written for those who are seriously thinking about taking the GPC exam and who are looking for a written a guide that will help them prepare. It’s written in an informal, conversational style by four leading grant professionals (including Danny), each of whom holds the GPC designation.

Danny serves on several national and local nonprofit boards. He joined the Grant Professionals Foundation Board of Directors in 2007, and served as its chair from 2008-2011. He was instrumental in the creation of the groundbreaking Grant Professionals Impact Survey. He was also a director on the Grant Professionals Association Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015. During his board service he led the establishment of International Grant Professionals Day and the week-long celebration of the grant profession that occurs annually in March.

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2 Responses to Grantsmanship as a Career

  1. Rebecca Shawver March 17, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    Great article! Lighthearted but factual. Heck, half the time I don’t know what to say to folks that give me the all too familiar blank stare when I say I’m a grant professional. It’s funny and sad at the same time.

    When my daughter was 13 years old, I took her to work for the mother-daughter work day project at her school. When she returned to school and the teacher asked her what her mom did at work, my daughter replied that I begged money for poor people.

    I assured the teacher (who called me that same night to ask if I worked for the Salvation Army – which I didn’t) that while I could beg if necessary, I’ve never needed to. I simply offer foundations, government agencies, and individuals the opportunity to share in my agency’s success by financially supporting us. It sounds so very much better than the “begging” that my daughter thought that I did.

    And I agree with you, I should simply say that I’m a GPC in the future….but we all know that they’ll still ask what that is. So let’s educate the people, one person at a time.

  2. Teresa November 7, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    You really need to work on your interpersonal communication skills. When a stranger asks what you do, don’t give a two-word description that you know from past experience will likely be meaningless to the person. And definitely don’t respond with an acronym that nobody outside your field is familiar with. The person is trying to have a conversation with you, not competing on a game show. I bet if you tried, you could come up with a one- or two-sentence description that would answer the question.

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