I once met a businessman who became a millionaire by buying and renting port-a-potties. Being a naturally inquisitive person (i.e. nosy), I asked him, “How does one even get into the port-a-potty business.” His answer? “I found something that nobody wanted to do but everybody needed and became an expert at it.”
March 10th - International Grant Professionals Day
Grant professionals, as we celebrate International Grant Professionals Week and the 3rd annual International Grant Professionals Day on March 10th, let’s say it with pride—we are in the port-a-potty business.
Now first, let me state the obvious—not many of us are going to become millionaires in our field. However, we are uniquely poised to play a major role in the growth and impact of the organizations that we serve. Grant professionals are often made, not born. For many, they stumbled into the field by accident or by force. At some point, all of us must make a choice—do I consider the science and art of grant writing to be a burden, just another task to complete along with the many I am assigned, or is it a privilege to be the team member that takes the idea of something great and turns it into actual reality?
For those who recognize the privilege of being a grant writer, then I urge you to be a grant professional. The first step in that journey is a willingness, both on your part and the part of your organization, to invest in your professional growth. Whether it be enrollment in workshops or a membership in the Grant Professionals Association, seek out the resources that will further your knowledge and your career. This includes webinars and journals on the finer points of writing and management, access to discussion boards and community posts that will connect you to fellow professionals, and opening yourself to a network of highly experienced and successful grant professionals that can provide support and mentorship. Become a grant expert, and your skills will be invaluable to your organization and the community that you serve.
If you choose the former and determine that grant writing is merely a task, another thing to check off the list, then I urge you to consider seeking out the skills of a grant professional who can nurture your grant program and seek funding for your mission that can carry your organization’s vision further than you ever dreamed possible.
The single greatest benefit to becoming or working with a grant professional is the quantitative return on your investment. By connecting with other grant professionals both locally and nationally, you will have an insider’s knowledge on such valuable information as forecasted grant opportunities, changing funder initiatives, and the little idiosyncrasies that can get a winning grant. Each dollar spent will return several in funding.
To many, grants are like port-a-potties—they are messy, stinky, and, eventually, unavoidable. At some point, you just have to hold your nose and use them. It takes a certain type of person to have a genuine love for the most unlovable of utilities. For those who have the love, I salute you, and I am one of you. For those who don’t, we don’t blame you. It’s a dirty job. Luckily there are those of us who love grants, love realizing visions, and we will always be there when you eventually need us.
About Nicole: Nicole Sibilski, GPC, is a grant consultant from Nashville, Tennessee, who works with organizations throughout the country. She is a current board member of Grant Professionals Foundation, and served as president of the Tennessee Area Chapter of Grant Professionals Association in 2016. Reach her via Linkedin.
Do you have a favorite analogy for grant professionals? Let us know in the comments below!