16th Annual Conference: BUILDING BRIDGES

TJGrant Expectations

Geraldine Whitaker

Principal, GrantWise Consulting, LLC

grantwiseconsulting@gmail.com

May, 2015

 

This year, I was privileged to attend the GPA 16th   Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. I was awarded the Susan Kemp Scholarship which covered my conference fee.

I agreed to spend four hours volunteering my services to support the conference activities. I volunteered at the hospitality table and the Silent Auction. I meet some amazing people from several different states and I learned some interesting facts about the City of Portland. There were various items showcased at the auction especially, books and grant making material, along with several other treats. With hundreds of items on display, GPA raised thousands of dollars and this event was a success, to say the least.

I am writing about my volunteer experience at the conference because this experience taught me so much about what GPA is really all about. By supporting this endeavor, educational opportunities are provided for grant writers and GPA ensures that resources are available to help all grant professionals improve their skills.

Overall, the conference was exceptional. The keynote speaker, plenary session speaker, and featured speaker, as well as the workshop presenters were prepared and well informed. Kent Stroman, the featured speaker, spoke about how to build bridges to relationships with funders. I now understand the “Why” it’s important to build these relationships rather than going out cold and asking a funder for money.

Networking during lunch with other grant professionals was an excellent way to learn and acquire information from attendees. Some very lively discussions were conducted while standing in the buffet lines. Information sharing occurred throughout the entire conference including games and exhibits that were ongoing during each day. The Thursday evening outing, “A Night at the Museum”, was a fun and relaxing way to network and get to meet new people also.

Over 70 workshops were offered at the conference. Each evening I would peruse the program book and deciding which workshops to attend the next day was always a difficult decision. Thanks to the GPA conference committee for providing all the workshops on a USB drive and including it in the conference bag.

The SIG workshop that I attended was for consultants. I learned about different ways to charge a client. We talked about return on investment (ROI), retainers and monthly billing. This workshop was on point for me because I have limited experience with setting fees for my clients.

The session, “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: How to Grow Your Grant Business,” was packed with tips and information that I was able to start using immediately on my return home from the conference. I started to do outreach using grant alert services to let the non-profits in my community know what RFP’s were out that they may be interested in.

“The Power of a Social Media for the Grant Profession” was fantastic. I opened my twitter account during this session. The presenters gave an overview on Google+, Facebook and Pintrest. The information I gained from this course will benefit me as a grant consultant and throughout my daily activities. I can also participate in #Grantchat.

The presenter of “Alignment Ain’t Just for Astrology! It’s for Grants Too!” offered insight into how to conduct a grant search. We discussed using google.docs vs. excel spreadsheets. This was a very intense, well delivered session packed into a limited time space. But the points were well taken.

The workshop, “Your Proposal Must Say This”, was an eye opener about always having a unified message. I learned the importance of always choosing the right words and when space is limited edit, edit, edit. This workshop is a must for the novice grant professional!

The conference title workshop “Building Bridges” was filled with information. I learned how to clue in on grant details and formulate a more targeted approach when applying for funding. Lastly, “Writing Powerful Case Statements to Support Grant Proposals”, emphasized the elements of a case statement, who, what, why, where, how, how much and so what. The “so what” outlines the ultimate impact of the project. This was an excellent workshop for the novice and a refresher for the seasoned grant professional.

The conference was the best three day investment of my time spent this year. I’m impressed by the dedication of the GPA staff who worked tirelessly to make this event the best that it could be. At the end of the day, I’m still in awe and thankful for the opportunity.