What Your Grant Professional Really Wants on IGPD By: Shauna O’Toole, MA, CFRE, GPC

“For starters, we would like it to be known that it’s International Grant Professionals Day. Many people, even other fundraisers, have not heard of such a day.” 

That’s just one of the responses I got when I posed this question to my fellow grant pros – “What do you really want on International Grant Professionals Day? In other words, what could employers and the philanthropic sector do that would really make you take notice?” Their* answers fell into five categories:


We would love it if the profession became as ubiquitously understood as fundraisers, data analysts, and project managers. We would also like to be recognized within our organizations and teams.

  • If you don’t know what IGPD is, now you know: International Grant Professionals Day, established by the Grant Professionals Association in 2015, increases international awareness of the work grant professionals perform as well as celebrates the work of grant professionals, who serve as administrators, consultants, managers, grant-makers, and writers.
  • “I want public and private acknowledgment (thank you note, social media post, office celebration, etc.) of all the work I do.”
  • We want to be valued for the deep institutional knowledge that grant professionals hold. “We truly know the organization’s story, from budgets to program outcomes, better than almost anyone.”
  • It would be nice to be appreciated for our impact on organizations that goes far beyond writing applications and completing reports. We bring a unique skill set that cannot be easily replaced, even by “a good writer.”
  • We would like grant professionals to be viewed with the same importance as Development Directors or Chief Development Officers and be compensated as such.

A Break:

This one is fairly specific to IGPD, but some of us simply want a day off or an opportunity to be with others who understand our profession. If your organization does not already approve membership to the Grant Professionals Association, you could consider adding this professional development benefit, which connects your grant writer to others in their field. That would be a fine gift for any grant pro to receive!

  • “I would love to hang out with grant colleagues and talk shop and life.”
  • “I don’t want to do any grant writing on the actual day. I want to spend time celebrating with my fellow grant professionals.”

A Seat at the Table:

Grant professionals want to be part of higher-level discussions.

  • At the least, we want to sit in on these meetings so we can understand the broader organizational context and frame our grant proposals and reports appropriately within this context.
  • We are bound to the strategy, outcomes, budgets, and deliverables decided at these meetings. For projects that renew annually or multi-year grants, it can be a challenge to build upon an inherited foundation, which, despite good intentions, may not have been built with best practices in mind. We have insight to offer. “As a grant professional, I bring some specialized expertise to the strategic planning table.”
  • We are bound to the revenue targets set at these meetings and want to contribute a perspective of what is realistically feasible. “If you expect me to help you meet the organization’s fundraising goals, invite me to be an active participant in strategic planning.”

Commitment to Trust-Based Practices:

There are a lot of practices that grant pros would like to change. Several published articles, like this humerous classic by Vu Le, illustrate grant practices that do more harm than good. Here are some of the top pet peeves grant professionals deal with.

  • cumbersome or unnecessary application questions
  • providing the same information in multiple formats
  • poorly designed portals
  • invasive reporting
  • word limits that are disproportional proportional to the questions/criteria

If you would like to compliment a funder on healthy practices, let a funder know how they could improve, or share with others what they can expect when working with a funder, you can leave anonymous feedback to and about funders at Grant Advisor.

Understanding the Grant Process and What We Need to Succeed:

Every grant professional wants to submit a quality proposal or report on time. Of course, we also want the application to be funded. Here are some of the ways the team can support us toward those goals.

  • Spend the money how you said you would, and please document that.
  • It can be uncomfortable to commit to a timeline, line-item budget, or project plan, but your grant professional is asking for these because organizations that include details are more likely to win awards.
  • Recognize there are ebbs and flows to the grants cycle. “During periods of low grant-related activity, allow me to tackle meaningful, capacity-building projects that will move the organization forward.”
  • Send timely responses. We know everyone is busy. However, following up numerous times for requests for information takes productive time away from our work and may even result in changes to the project schedule. If you are working with a consultant, time spent on project management is billable.
  • It seems counter-intuitive, but shorter word/character limits don’t necessarily make the work easier or faster. In fact, deciding what is most important and cutting down content can actually add working time to the project.
  • “Actual writing is a very small segment of the job. Planning, project management, strategizing, and managing records are all so important as well and time-consuming!”

Image credit: Michelle Benson via LinkedIn

*Thank you to the individuals who contributed a response to my question. All contributors are anonymous; however, much of the content in this blog is paraphrased from their responses. This is by no means a scientific survey.

AGS has a team of credentialed, experienced grant professionals who know how to navigate the complexities of the grant lifecycle. We would love to support you in your work. AGS also offers several on-demand webinars on a variety of topics to enhance development as a grant professional. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for our training newsletter.

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 7.3: Identify strategies that grant developers use in building social capital to benefit their communities and society at large.

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