GPA 2019 Annual Conference Scholarship Essay, by Amy Lottes

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St. Louis Chapter Scholarship

Little Nuggets Can Lead to a Pot of Gold

I attended my first GPA Conference about a year after I became a full-time grant writer. During the conference I received notice that I had achieved my GPC credential. I finally felt like a Grant Professional! When I was applying for a scholarship for the Washington conference, I spent a lot of time reflecting on that first conference where I discovered people who spoke my language, who were professionals and who were passionate about their nonprofit work. I learned so much.

I was thrilled to have been awarded a scholarship to attend the conference and anticipated it eagerly. Attending a GPA Conference is like being a kid in a candy store. So many choices, so little time! I worried that I wouldn’t get enough out of the experience to be worthy of the award.

I needn’t have worried. As I look back on the sessions I chose I realized that while every session might not be 75 minutes of pure, useful, information, each and every one provided golden nuggets of information that I could take back to my work and use to make a difference in both my writing and my organizations. Over the two and a half days I filled my pot with many nuggets until I had a pot of gold to bring back with me. Some nuggets were totally new information, others were valuable insights or tips that I had forgotten or pushed to the back of my mind.

Some Nuggets that I gathered:

  • Faux-Lanthropy – following on the heels of Vu Le, this session was a reminder to focus efforts on high reward activities that build relationships with donors and sustainability for my organizations.
  • Grant Consulting Models Session One and Two gave me great insight into the different models of consulting, and a guide to help me understand when I might (or might not) be ready to take that leap. The common thread was a passion for grant writing and the importance of the GPA community.
  • The “Drabble This” session brought the art of storytelling back to me. I realized that I was so caught up in word and character counts, of providing the data and measured outcomes that I had lost the human voice of the children I was writing for. Within a week of the conference I brought that voice to an application in a 100 word story and received a six-figure award! I am now looking at all my applications with a new eye, figuring out where to put the STORY.
  • “Planning is Everything: Strategic Grants Planning” helped me realize that I need to sit down with my organizations before each new fiscal year to learn where the organization strategically wants to go and figure out how my work can help get them there. By helping my organizations identify their goals and needs, my writing will be more targeted and impactful. It will create a literal road map for the entire year.
  • In “Win Big, Fail Better” I learned that while it is so important to do your research and planning to win that award, there is much to learn from a failed application. I am determined to now review failed applications more closely to discover the weaknesses so that future applications will be stronger.
  • Marin Boess’ “Power Writing for Grants” was lively and entertaining and was a fantastic reminder of how to get the most out of limited space. “Write to Express, not Impress” – SO important. Her many other tips will help me move from passive to active voice and make my proposals SING!
  • In “Want to Teach” I learned the value of sharing knowledge with others and gained the courage to consider teaching courses in grant writing.

With my bucket full, I returned home with renewed energy and excitement. I am eager to bring these nuggets to my organizations to help make them stronger, my writing more purposeful and raise critical funds to further their missions and have an impact on my community.

Thank you, GPF, for making this conference possible for me. I can’t wait for Denver!


Scholarship applications for the GPA 2020 Annual Conference will open soon. More information is available here.

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