13 Nov What I Gained by Attending GrantSummit in Person By: Shauna O’Toole, MA, CFRE, GPC
“Will I see you at GrantSummit?” This year, for the first time, my answer was “Yes.” In early November 2023, I attended GrantSummit (formerly known as the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Annual Conference) in Kansas City, Missouri. This multi-day conference is the premier professional development event for grant professionals in the U.S. I have attended this conference before as a virtual attendee, but this year was my first experience traveling to the event.
I have three key takeaways from my in-person experience:
1) Without distractions, I absorbed knowledge like a sponge.
Attending the conference in person allowed me to focus entirely on professional development and networking. You cannot beat the convenience and affordability of virtual sessions, but being there in person allowed me to be fully present in sessions. I challenged myself to attend sessions on topics in which I rated myself lower in my professional development plan, meaning I have less experience. I was surprised by how deeply I needed to concentrate in these sessions. I benefitted from a dedicated environment to absorb the information and take good notes. My scores in my professional development plan have measurably improved in key categories because of what I learned at GrantSummit.
2) I am part of something so much greater than myself.
Grant professionals are mighty. Being in the ballroom with 850 other grant professionals, executives, evaluators, and researchers showed me how influential we are in the nonprofit sector. Plus, there were several hundred GrantSummit attendees who attended virtually, the GPA members not in attendance at the conference, and grant professionals who are not members of GPA. Relatively, we are still a small bunch, but we collectively draw over half a trillion annually for cause-driven organizations (Foundant Technologies 203).
Additionally, as an employee of a company with a remote workforce, I met some of my coworkers for the first time at GrantSummit. It was indeed a gift to get to know my talented colleagues, who are also funny, generous, and kind.
3) The grants profession is more diverse than I realized.
I became more aware of the vast array of causes, grant types, geographic locations, and organization size/scope represented by those in attendance at GrantSummit. I met people representing many walks of life, experience levels, and demographic characteristics. Diversity is a priority for GPA, and I realize we have more work to do in our profession to increase the voice and participation of underrepresented groups. On a personal level, this exposure to a higher degree of diversity has enriched me by being within the orbit of professionals with whom I would not have normally interacted.
Supercharge your professional development.
The next time you get the opportunity to register for a conference, I encourage you to consider attending in person. In the meantime, if you find yourself with specific knowledge gaps you want to fill, 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.
If you are interested in grant services, training, or federal review services, or are interested in our career opportunities, Julie Assel, CGMS, GPC, President/CEO, will be happy to talk with you about this opportunity and provide you with a quote for grant services.
This blog post 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 the advantages of participating in continuing education and various grant review processes.
Skill 7.3: Identify strategies that grant developers use in building social capital to benefit their communities and society at large.