Federal prize competitions are a means for federal agencies to crowdsource ideas and engage public innovators to develop innovative ideas and solutions to societal problems (referred to as competitions, prize competitions, challenge, or competition). According to Challenge.gov, the primary platform for managing competitions, “Longitude and ship navigation, Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, even initial designs for the U.S. Capitol and White House—all resulted from open prize competitions. Even those self-driving vehicles got their start in federal prize competitions too!” Other notable concepts derived from challenges include the “lunar loo” (space toilet), digital wallet interface, protections for fish from water infrastructure, opioid detection in the mail, and “getting out the count” for the most recent census. These competitions, organized by Federal agencies, encourage participation from individuals, businesses, and organizations, driving them to create groundbreaking solutions to complex problems. This blog post delves into the world of federal competitions, exploring their significance, impact, and considerations for interested organizations.

Audited financials are a common component of grant readiness discussions and are often requested by funders. However, new or small nonprofits may wonder if an audit is really necessary. Understanding why an audit is helpful to a funder, how to find an auditor, and what to do if an audit seems unattainable can help small nonprofits plan.

If you were to ask grant professionals how they arrived at their current position/role, most would laugh and relate a roundabout journey. Grant Professional is not at the top of the list of jobs to which children, youth, and teens aspire. Many of us find ourselves working as grant professionals by way of degrees in journalism, education, social work, and even the STEM fields. Through our various career paths in nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and social service agencies, grant professionals develop unique skills and have various areas of expertise and specialization that support our grantsmanship work. As a result, there are many professional certifications that benefit the grants profession. Certifications help uplift the profession by establishing a level of knowledge and ethical practices and acknowledging experience and expertise within an industry. Below is an overview of professional credentials related to the grants profession and the requirements for obtaining them.

From a very early age, we are taught to multitask. It seems embedded in the American culture of go-go-go and do-do-do. You may be eating lunch and socializing with friends, or watching a sporting event while taking a business call, or cooking dinner while helping your kids with homework. You probably do not even catch yourself multitasking, because it happens so frequently.

In grant seeking, fundraising professionals sometimes refer to low-hanging fruit as the donors who give year after year with little effort, synonymous with “easy money.” While the term is often tossed around, it can be frustrating to funders and grant professionals. Funders may have fewer requirements to increase accessibility to nonprofits or value the longevity of relationships. The funder is still striving to make an impact in the community. Grant professionals understand the nuances of grant seeking and can see the industry landscape increase in competitiveness as more organizations apply for funding and foundations give conservatively in response to volatile markets. Fundraising strategies that rely on these dollars without stewardship may find themselves in the midst of a drought.

March Madness is in full swing, and all this talk about competition and brackets makes me think about how grant writing relates. Grants, much like professional sports, are competitive, and increasingly so. We can’t come in on gameday and put together a proposal without any preparation and expect to win big. To be competitive, your grant team must train and prepare to advance through the rounds and win awards. So, while building out/reviewing your bracket for college basketball, consider how these strategies can help your grant team gain a competitive edge.

Denial can be challenging, especially when your grant proposals seem to be on a losing streak. Before you start rethinking your grant strategy or wondering if you’re doing something wrong, there may be other proactive steps and factors to take into consideration. Grant funding is complex. There are a multitude of funding streams, networks and relationships, and preferences involved—most of which are beyond your control. And while you can do your best to present an aligned, impactful proposal, sometimes you will never know the reason a proposal is denied. Sometimes, a string of denials prompts a self-evaluation to evaluate how you could do better, or you take the rejection personally. While self-awareness is important, so is understanding the factors that are beyond your control in an application.

Burnout. That’s another buzzword like quiet quitting or hustle culture, right? Actually, burnout has been around for a long while, recognized in the healthcare and social service industries. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon (though it’s not recognized as a medical condition). WHO defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” In 2020, three grant professionals (Bachman, Planton, and Rodgers) set out to identify the prevalence of burnout among the grant profession. Their findings were published in the Fall 2020 Journal of the Grant Professionals Association, showing a gap in available information as well as initial research indicating more than three in four grant professionals experience physical symptoms, socio-emotional symptoms, or both, of burnout.

Know Before You Go This year, GrantSummit is bringing all the grant pros to our hometown, Kansas City, Missouri! Assel Grant Services (AGS) is based here in the Heartland Chapter with staff spanning Kansas to Virginia and from Ohio down to Kentucky. If this is your first time in Kansas City, keep reading for insider tips on restaurants and things to see.