Four Simple Ways to Recharge

Teri BlandonBy Teri S. Blandon, GPC, CFRE; Vice President for External Relations, PAI

In the midst of proposals, reports, meetings, and other demands, finding time to recharge may seem like a luxury. It’s not — it’s a necessity. I recently attended a panel on leadership with executives from major nonprofits, consulting firms and corporate foundations. All are supremely busy people and all said the same thing: you need to step away from the job physically and mentally. Otherwise, you are not doing your best work.

So as we enter the prime months of summer (and for some of us, the mid-point of our fiscal year), I offer you four ideas for recharging your personal batteries.

  1. Get out of the office. Let’s start with the obvious: take some time off. If your deadlines make getting away impossible in the summer, then plan to take some extended time off when the deadlines have passed. Even the process of planning a future break can help relieve some of the pressure. If a post-Labor Day vacation won’t work for you, consider taking a day here or there during the summer to give yourself a long weekend. If your organization offers flex days, take advantage of them — don’t talk yourself out of it. Yes, the work will still be there when you get back, but you will be in a much better frame of mind to tackle it.
  1. Shake up your routine. Work routines are good — they make us feel in control and help us get things done. Personally, if I don’t get my lunch and work clothes ready the night before, chances are good I’m going to miss that 7:05 bus in the morning. But routines have a way of becoming ruts, controlling us instead of helping us. I’m not suggesting total chaos (I do have to catch that bus, after all), but change what you can. For me, that can mean taking an alternate exit out of the subway so I’m walking down different streets to work.
  1. Do something different. Pick one thing to do this summer that you haven’t done before. Maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to try, like ballroom dancing or a drawing class. Or checking out that funky art gallery down the street. Or randomly selecting a podcast and listening to it. Or going to a library and picking a book from a genre that you haven’t tried before (for me, that would be science fiction). Or writing a blog — GPF and GPA are always looking for good articles! Doing something different expands your horizons.
  1. Practice mindfulness. “Mindfulness” has been used to mean a whole host of practices, including meditation and yoga. At its simplest, it means “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” Here’s an easy experiment — the next time you go to the coffee shop, grocery store or dry cleaners, notice how many times you make eye contact with the person behind the counter. I was shocked to realize how little it actually was for me — not because I’m not a people person, but because I’m busy with pulling out my credit card or swiping my phone for payment, gathering up the items and getting out of the way of the person behind me. But in doing so, I was missing a moment of humanity, of connecting with the other person involved in the transaction. Now, I purposefully make eye contact with the other person (it doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a shot). Sometimes we have a chance to exchange pleasantries in addition to money. And I’ve learned that it doesn’t take much more time — literally, five seconds. Five seconds and more often than not, a smile that wasn’t there before – on both of our faces.

So these are the things I’ve come up with to relieve the pressure, be more productive and make life worth living. What are some things you’ve tried? I’d love to hear about them — I’m always on the lookout for ways to bring balance to a busy life. Email me your tips and ideas at

Realizing My Worth as a Grants Manager

Meghann AdamsBy Meghann Adams, GPC – Grants Manager at Zoo Atlanta

2014 GPC Scholar

I grew up wanting to be an English teacher just like my dad. Or I could be a movie director. My dad and I even joked about me growing up to be a beer truck driver. You get to travel at least, right? Well, needless to say, I did not pursue any of those career paths. I decided to be a grant professional. When I tell people what I do for a living, they either cringe at the thought of writing or they instantly become my best friend (because they could really use a grant writer!).

I recognize the need to educate others about our commonly misunderstood occupation. We need to share with others not only the purpose of grants, but also our role as a grant professional. All of us are making a positive impact in some way within our organizations, our communities, our world. Most of us collaborate with so many different people or ghost write for our organization’s leaders that we forget we are an important piece of the puzzle too. We need to trust in ourselves and speak up because we are a vital part of the team.

Now that I know I am on my most fulfilling career path, I am focused on improving my skills, knowledge and experience as a Grants Manager. I became involved with the Grant Professionals Association on a local and national level. I had been considering pursuing the CFRE, but when I learned about the GPC, I knew that was the credential that made the most sense for me.

Thanks to the GPC scholarship that I received from the Grant Professionals Foundation, I was able to pursue my professional development goal of earning my GPC in a short amount of time. My husband and I were ready to start our family, so time was of the essence. When I found out we were expecting twins, I realized I needed to obtain my GPC NOW or it may never get done. My life was going to change tremendously in a short amount of time, and I needed to do this first for myself and my career.

The fact that I had two babies on the way motivated me to study hard, read everything I could get my hands on and chat with seasoned colleagues to prepare for the GPC exam. As I sat down to take the exam, morning sickness in full swing, I hoped that my hard work would pay off. It did. Less than a year after earning my GPC, my employer promoted me to Grants Manager and I received a nice raise as well. I was also asked to conduct an organization-wide workshop about grants for our employees that was well received. I am fortunate because my supervisors understand and value the importance of professional development. They fully support my efforts to continually grow and learn as a grant professional. By earning my GPC, I have shown them that I am committed to my profession and my employer. I help put our best foot forward when I cultivate grantmakers. Going through the process of becoming certified has made me realize that people value me and my contributions.

After obtaining my GPC, I am more confident in myself since I took the extra steps to prove that I have the education, experience, community involvement and ethics of a certified grant professional. Sure, it is not required to have a GPC to be a successful grant writer, but in my experience, it has furthered the success of my career and helped me gain respect for the experience and knowledge that I bring to the table.

Mastering the Grants Profession

Tracey DBy Tracey Diefenbach, GPC – Director of Grants, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

2012 GPC Scholar

I feel truly blessed to work for an organization – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri – that is an innovative, one-of-a-kind agency – where we push from good to better to best, embrace challenges, study our craft, and strive to achieve the highest levels of performance. It is this environment and that of my local St. Louis GPA Chapter, where I serve on the Board of Directors, that really inspired me to master my profession.  For years, I attended regular GPA programs, I participated in community training, I read GPA literature and grant blogs, yet I often wondered what more I could do to set myself apart and become an expert in the field. That is when I discovered the GPC exam. This professional credential really goes far beyond three little letters or a piece of paper that says you are certified….it proves your knowledge of the grants field, your ability to perform at the highest level, your integrity and commitment to ethics. It was very clear to me that this was the next essential step in my journey to master my craft.

I can honestly say the timing was far from good –

  • I was five months pregnant with my second child and had a four-year old at home that already demanded a lot of my time and attention.
  • I had no less than 15 looming deadlines, including everything from those tedious 1,200-character count corporate online applications to long and complex government proposals.
  • The cost of the GPC exam – it is extremely reasonable especially in comparison to other professional certifications, but let’s be clear – there are many costs that come with the bundle of baby joy I was preparing for…from medical to diapers, formula and need I mention daycare!

While there were hundreds of excuses to postpone the exam, there were two powerful reasons which prompted me to take that exam and clearly outweighed everything else:
First, thanks to funding from the Grant Professionals Foundation, I was extremely fortunate to have been awarded a GPC scholarship covering the cost of the exam. Second, and even more significantly, for me GPC defines mastering the grants profession.

And so I did it. I took the exam and the rewards, opportunities, and satisfaction I have received are immeasurable.

  • GPC is highly valued in the field by: public and private agencies who benefit from highly qualified grant professionals working to further their mission; funders who are now, more than ever, looking for transparency and accountability; and employers who seek out and pay more for those with three powerful letters behind their name – GPC.
  • GPC puts you in the rankings of a community of grant professionals who are continuing to grow and learn each and every day. Receiving this certification is not the end, rather it is just the beginning. Much like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri has inspired me, the Grant Professionals Certification Institute pushes its members to reach new heights through mentoring others, learning new skills and giving back to the community.

I challenge each of you, just like I have been challenged to master your profession and go get your GPC!