Laboring Over Grants: Finding Help in Difficult Times by Tracey Diefenbach, GPC and Thomas Assel, GPC

Are you laboring too much over grants? Grants are great to have, and they’re often crucial to an organization’s mission, but there are only so many hours in the day to apply for and manage those grants. Grant professionals are susceptible to burn out from the heavy responsibility and high-pressure, deadline-driven work, which continues day in and day out in our profession. Grant applications and management can even get in the way of your organization’s mission. I was recently on a call with a client who was looking for help managing their grant portfolio. When I asked why they were seeking support, the client shared a striking comment: “We are so busy trying to get the money that we struggle to actually carry out the work.” I understood completely because I’ve seen this state of affairs before.

When I worked as an in-house director of grants, the entire grants program fell on me. When I first started with the agency, that consisted of 30 to 40 grants per year. Between submissions for continued funding, reports, and proposals to new partners, that was plenty! By the time I left the agency, I was handling over 65 applications each year. That included everything from tax credit applications, federal proposals, and even award applications for national competitions that would raise our agency’s profile. It was a huge challenge, and, obviously, I am no longer in that role.

I did have some team member support in meeting that challenge. Program staff designed projects and worked well with me to produce high-quality grant proposals. In spite of this support, I was still the key person doing the writing, research, and proposal design. My program staff often looked to me as the expert in things like evidence-based practices, which is definitely not ideal for a grant writer. Eventually, the workload got to the point where I had to find other people to help with things like grant management and reporting.

Organizations need to be able to manage and expand their grant portfolios, but what do you do when your labor is not enough? How to you get help? Delegating to other staff helps, but other staff may be overwhelmed as well or lack the skillset needed for the work. Hiring new staff would be great, but it is not always an option for organizations with tight budgets, and it takes a long time to hire and orient new staff. If you can relate to this situation, consider outsourcing some of your overflow work to Assel Grant Services. Our grant professionals are ready to step in and lighten the load! Our full continuum of grant services can help in all aspects of your grant operations. If you are laboring too much over grants, contact us for help today.

and Skills

Competency #4: Knowledge of how to craft, construct, and submit an effective grant application

Competency #7: Knowledge of practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers

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