25 Aug Preparing for a GPC Audit by Shauna O’Toole, MA, CFRE
I was one of the lucky 10% of aspiring GPCs (Grant Professional Certified) to see the following words float across my screen: “This email is to notify you that your packet has been selected for audit.” Audits are best practice for credentialing organizations to uphold the integrity of the credential. No matter how ethical or diligent one is, being audited is always a bit nerve-wracking. I am sharing my experience to show you how to track documentation to be audit-ready. I will give a real-life example of undergoing an audit after submitting my initial eligibility packet and the things that I now do differently as a result.
Preparing an eligibility packet is daunting in and of itself. A savvy applicant will be truthful, choose examples wisely, track your continuing education units (CEUs), and set up processes and tracking that make preparation easier. After my experience, I recommend a second layer of due diligence.
Be Truthful: The most basic thing a candidate for the GPC exam can do to set themselves up to pass an audit is to be thoroughly transparent. Members of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) are bound to a code of ethics, so I will assume that anyone applying for the GPC will submit truthful information. It might be tempting to list an academic degree as “conferred” when you have not yet completed your last credit or state that training was two hours when it was 90 minutes. Don’t. Thankfully, I had been truthful in my application.
Choose Examples Wisely: A candidate can prepare for an audit by carefully selecting the examples for your packet based on your access to documentation. The types of documentation you are likely to be asked for in an audit include:
- Successfully funded proposals;
- Employment verification;
- Diplomas and transcripts (unless you included one with your packet);
- Continuing education; and
- Volunteer and community activities.
While you don’t need to gather all of those items when you submit your eligibility packet, think through whom you would contact for any documentation you don’t have. Only submit the items for which you have documentation or can easily get documentation. Construct your examples to align with that action plan. I made a misstep here. In my packet, I listed a grant award for my previous organization, but I did not have documentation of that award in my possession. Thankfully, my former organization was able to find the award letter and send it to me.
Be Diligent About Tracking CEUs: The most involved of all types of documentation is that for continuing education. In the packet, you will be asked to list CEU information in a table format. For the audit, you will be asked to provide documentation of having attended each session you listed, including two additional pieces of information not required in the eligibility packet. Today, I track CEUs in an Excel file containing the following columns, which cover both the eligibility packet and audit:
- Session Title
- Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) Competency and Skill (X.X)
- Description of Alignment to the Competency/Grants (if that is not clear from the session title)
- Trainer/Presenter Name(s)
- Type of Event* (live workshop, conference, recorded webinar, etc.)
- Type(s) of Documentation* (slides, certificate, written notes, registration confirmation, etc.)
- Saved to an External Drive?* (Y/N)
*GPCI did not explicitly request these items in the eligibility packet or audit, but I find them helpful.
A downloadable version of this tracking template is available here.
Begin Preparation Now: If you are audited, you will have 10 business days to respond with your documentation. Being prepared for that possibility will put your mind at ease and increase the likelihood of providing everything asked of you in time. Create a documentation file on your personal drive or email and consistently save your documents to this location. Saving this to a cloud-based platform reduces the likelihood of losing access if you change jobs or need a new computer. Before migrating organizational data to an external source, seek your employer’s/client’s approval and follow all applicable privacy practices.
Organization is key. With the exception of webinars that provided a certificate at the end, like those offered by AGS, piecing together documentation that contained all of these pieces of data on one page was challenging. For the audit, I submitted more than one page for most sessions. For example, page 1 – registration confirmation with the date and organizer of the event; page 2 – slides showing the title of the session and the presenter’s name.
Completing the GPC eligibility packet and audit sharpened my organizational skills, understanding of ethics, and diligence skills. In fact, the process is designed to require candidates to utilize skills necessary for the grants profession. If you are considering applying for the GPC credential, don’t let the process deter you. Instead, be as proactive and thoughtful as you would be when applying for a grant, except this time, the investment will be in yourself.
Do you need additional CEUs for your application? AGS offers professional development webinars that align to GPCI’s competencies and skills. They address multiple skills within a competency, interrelated skills across competencies, or a specific skill within a competency in great detail. All of our courses:
- Align with GPCI competencies;
- Are approved for CEUs by GPCI and CFRE International; and
- Are led by nationally recognized GPA-approved trainers.
This BLOG is aligned with the Grant Professional Certification Institute’s Competencies and Skills
Competency #7: Knowledge of practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers
Skill 7.1: Identify advantages of participating in continuing education and various grant review processes
Competency #6: Knowledge of nationally recognized standards of ethical practice by grant developers
Skill 6.5 Identify issues and practices pertinent to communicating information that may be considered privileged, proprietary, and confidential