As grant specialists we work in a variety of environments either as the Lone Ranger with no Tonto; or as a member of a team of specialists that support each other; or somewhere in between. Our positions include grant writer, grant coordinator, grant manager, grant developer, grant specialist and I could go on. Our responsibilities range from grants acquisition only to grants/program management or a combination of both.
The lone grant specialist or one who works within a team must determine how they can best navigate their organization in an effort to pursue and acquire grants. In many instances, this starts with developing procedures which include identification, screening and analysis of relevant funding opportunities; acquiring approvals from leadership; engaging others in the preparation of the proposal; using strategies for proposal development; and finally, ensuring timely submission of the proposal.
Path to Growth
Over twenty years ago, I started my work as a grants specialist with a nonprofit organization as a program manager over a Collaborative Respite Program grant. This job required that I manage the grant and write the continuing applications.
My next major proposal development project was as the grant writer and project manager of a Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care for a large urban community: 22 organizations and 33 applications. Any of you who have managed this type of large collaborative process understand the amount of planning and engagement that is required to acquire this funding. I planned, coordinated and implemented the community process and wrote the HUD COC Exhibit One as the Manager for a program titled The Funding Source at a large urban university.
This leads us to where I am now – a department of education whereby I started as the lone grants specialist which has now grown to six full-time staff. This position has offered me the opportunity to plan, facilitate, write and submit a multitude of proposals over the years.
Whether we are the Team of One or part of a Team of Many, we should consider the organization’s structure when addressing the process used to:
1) determine program and organizational needs;
2) analyze the identified funding opportunities;
3) secure buy-in for the pursuit of funding;
4) acquire approvals to pursue selected funding opportunity;
5) engage others in the preparation of the proposal;
6) achieve timely completion of proposal elements; and
7) gather organizational/programmatic information towards the preparation of the proposal.
We must also consider those strategies we plan to use in proposal development; and what measures we can use to showcase our successes. Ultimately, what are the expectations of the organization as it relates to our role, responsibilities; fund development goals; etc.
What do you find as differences and similarities in the processes you use as a Team of One or a Team of Many grant specialist?.