8 Competencies of a Grant Professional

Core Competencies of a Grant Professional

 What do you need to know to hire a grant professional?

When you are looking for a  well-rounded, experienced grant professional for a job or a specific project, how do you know if they are qualified for the position or contract? How do you know that they have been successful in the past or that they are ethical?

To be successful in obtaining grants on a consistent basis, a grant professional must possess core competencies.  The core competencies of a grant professional can be broken down into 8 essential skills. The grant professional will understand and incorporate theses skills to further the mission and advance project and funding goals of the organization(s) they support.

What are the 8 Key Areas of Skills to look for in a Grant Professional?

The key skills for a successful grant professional are:

  • Applications
  • Project Design
  • Organizational Development
  • Ethical Practices
  • Post-award Grant Management
  • Relationships
  • Professionalism

In fact, the Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI), a nonprofit that is dedicated to measuring and promoting competency and ethical practices within the field of grantsmanship, evaluates these 8 core skills. GPCI, in accordance with National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA)  and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards pertaining to testing and credentialing, provides the only grant professional credential that is developed following rigorous psychometric protocols.

How is a Grant Professional Evaluated? 

The GPCI exam was developed and is updated through rigorous national standards for professional credentials.  The exam includes tow, independent sections: 1) a Multiple Choice Exam and 2) a Written Exam.

The GPCI’s  multiple choice section tests the depth of knowledge of the following: the weight given to each competency is noted as a percent:

  1. How to craft, construct and submit an effective grant application (25%)
  2. Strategies for effective program and project design and development (20%)
  3. How to research, identify and match funding resources to meet specific needs (15%)
  4. Organizational development as it pertains to grant seeking (10%)
  5. Nationally recognized standards of ethical practice by grant developers (10%)
  6. Post-award grant management practices sufficient to inform effective grant design and development (8%)
  7. Methods and strategies that cultivate and maintain relationships between fund-seeking and recipient organizations and funders (8%)
  8. Practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers (4%)

The written section is evaluated according to 6 analytic rubrics that indicate skills important in grant development and are weighted as indicated with a composite score:

  1. Make a Persuasive Argument (34%)
  2. Organize Ideas Appropriately (22%)
  3. Convey Ideas Clearly (18%)
  4. Use Information Provided (12%)
  5. Use Conventional Standard English (10%)
  6. Follow Formatting Requirements (4%)

The next time  you see ‘GPC’ after a grant professional’s name, you can be assured that they have completed an assessment-based certification that requires years of experience and proven success in obtaining grant awards as part of the eligibility criteria that allows them to take the exams; and, you know they have succeeded in applying for the GPC, they have passed the exams, they are held to the highest ethical standards within the industry and they are required to have continuing education and professional development.

Currently, there are around 300 Grant Professionals who have earned their GPC.

Related post: “What Your Grant Professional Knows Could be Worth Millions.” 



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Jo helps do-gooders do good great. She is the Managing Director / Founder of SmartEGrants and CEO/Principal at J. Miller & Associates, Inc. - Grants, Strategy, and Social Media for nonprofits and the public sector. She hosts #Grantchat, a weekly Twitter Chat, and All Things Grants, a weekly show on Blab. She loves cross-country road trips, exploring national parks with her son, the San Juan Islands, and walking her rescue miniature schnauzer. She is a hugger.

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