Growing Your Team of One to a Team of Many

Gayla Rawlins, Team of Many

Alone’ Ranger

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.

Grant Professional Maze
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.  

Team Capacity

Whether we are the Team of One or part of a Team of Many, we shoulshutterstock_113143768_thumbnaild 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.

Discussion

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?.

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Gayla Rawlinson is the Director of the Center for Grants Development division with Harris County Department of Education. She has 19 years of experience in organizational assessment, grants development, program management, implementation, budgets and evaluation. She's coordinated grants development processes that brought in over $164 million dollars to the Greater Houston area. She also became the first State Representative for the Grant Professionals Association and led the development of the Houston chapter – the first in Texas. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Master’s degree in Sociology/Social Research from Sam Houston State University.

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