By Trish Bachman, CGW (and aspiring GPC)
Have you read Amanda Day’s recent blog post, “How to Build Relationships as the Lone Grant Writer”? If you haven’t, you should! Amanda talks about her work with the City of Alpharetta and how she builds relationships with the people she works with in order to more effectively write grants that benefit the city. Amanda is spot on. We cannot write effectively in a silo. It takes collaboration to be able to answer those very important questions: who, what, when, where, how, why, and so what. As grant professionals, we know that collaborative work relationships are the key to grant success.
At times, grant development and management can be stressful business. Personal supportive relationships in the grants field are as important as collaborative work relationships. These are people that you choose to surround yourself with. People that support you when you have a question, need encouragement, need a laugh, or want to celebrate. When I started my grant consulting business three years ago, my community of support was very small even though I was working with people who wrote and managed grants all the time. On top of that, I didn’t know any consultants. I had no mentors. I thought I was alone.
Because I live in a small state (2nd smallest in the Union), it didn’t take very long to find a few awesome small business owners and independent nonprofit consultants to befriend. I attended all the free nonprofit training opportunities and small business workshops that were available to me. I drove many miles and had many interesting conversations in coffee shops across Delaware. I can tell you, the effort has totally been worth it.
Similarly, it didn’t take very long poking around on the internet and lurking on social media sites to find that there was, in fact, a very large (and growing!) community of grant professionals. I attended every local grant training opportunity with AGWA and GPA that I could easily drive to and asked a lot of questions. I made phone calls. And, I started to follow #GrantChat on Twitter and Facebook. Three years later, I am happy to say that I have found people from across the country with similar interests, goals, and dreams that have become part of my support community.
The takeaway here is that only you can know the kind of support you need. Build your own grant support community. Reach out to a friend, share a cup of coffee, drive a few miles, and make a few surprise phone calls. If it’s what you need as a grant professional, it might be just what others need, too.
Discussion Question: According to www.UnfundedList.com, community is one of the most overused words in grant writing. So why choose a watered down word like community to describe the support we need as individual grant professionals? Is there a better word?