GPA 2019 Annual Conference Scholarship Essay, by Beth Noble

AZ Founding Chapter Jerry Dillehay Scholarship

My primary objective in attending the 2019 GPA Annual Conference is to return to my organization as a better, more informed grants leader. With this in mind, I made a very deliberate and intentional plan to take workshops focused on logic model development, strategic planning, and personal growth. My goal was to learn new techniques and skills that can be implemented to improve our overall grant strategy process.  First up, I attended the Better or Just More Fun Way to Logic Model session. I have been using the logic model process to guide program staff in project development for proposals. What I gained from attending this logic model workshop is how to use an interactive approach to better engage participants in decision making. The presenters used the compression planning method which creates more opportunity for involvement when combined with the logic model process. Another great tip from this workshop is approaching the logic model from the big picture to the details. By focusing on the impact first, then outcomes, activities, inputs, and outputs the finished product will be ready for proposal development. I plan to implement this new process immediately.

Since strategic planning is a top priority for my learning and skill development goals, I attended the two-part strategic planning session titled “When Ideal isn’t an Option”. This workshop helped me gain insight that strategic planning is more about the decision making process than the plan itself. Understanding that strategic planning requires strategic thinkers to move the process forward and achieve success allowed me to reflect on how that works in my non-profit organization and how I can better assist our organization’s leadership in accomplishing the steps in our plan related to grant funding.

Another key takeaway from the conference that I am implementing immediately is the Drabble technique learned in the “Drabble This” session. Writing a 50 to100 word program recipient story to illustrate the need statement was powerful and compelling. The presenters shared that they have successfully used this tool in government proposals. Seeing their examples and getting an opportunity to practice writing a Drabble was very beneficial.

Attending Diane Leonard’s session titled “Grant Writing is Not a Solo Sport” addressed one of my key objectives of becoming a better grant leader. Focusing on how to make yourself and your team happier and work faster is a critical need for organizational grant department sustainability. The technique of determining grant velocity for an agency gives credibility to the work done by proposal developers and can improve the work functionality of a grant team. Given the complexity of determining our organization’s grant velocity, my plan is to implement this during the next year.

The GPA Speed Dating workshop offered personal growth and networking. Having the opportunity to discuss key grant related topics such as federal proposals, burn-out, succession planning, and different professional opportunities in a small group setting allowed for more intimate, targeted discussion. This session balanced the technique and skill development workshops with an opportunity to have candid conversations with my peers.

Finally, lunch with the other scholarship recipients gave me an opportunity to network with other grant professionals, learn about their organizations, and make new contacts for future conferences. Being a conference scholarship recipient helped increase my involvement with the conference and gave me a strong appreciation for the hard work done by the members of the Grant Professional Foundation to ensure a successful auction. I’m honored to have been a 2019 GPA Conference Scholarship recipient.

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