By Julie Boll, Director of Grants, Quincy University
Let’s cut to the chase: the most obvious and measurable Return on Investment of the GPC scholarship was a promotion to Grants Director and a raise. It wasn’t just the GPC credential, of course, but the credential was absolutely part of a series of events and achievements that led to my promotion. The GPC scholarship literally catapulted me into a new level of grant professionalism. I now have a broader knowledge of the grants profession, I have a much stronger network of grant professionals (you guys are awesome people!), and I have seen a greater level of respect from my colleagues.
Now back to the beginning: I was awarded the GPC scholarship in the fall of 2014 at the GPA conference in Portland. This was the second time I had applied for the scholarship. I took that initial step because, like all of us, my life is crazy-busy and it was a way of “forcing” myself to take action on this particular professional goal. When I won the GPC scholarship, it was no longer optional for me to pursue my GPC. The scholarship held me accountable: I had a timetable and I had a deadline. And more importantly, other people knew about it!
Preparing for the GPC exam prompted me to explore subjects and topics I otherwise “didn’t have time for,” so it launched an intense period of learning and growing for me. As an avowed introvert, I generally stay in my “lane”. Like many introverts who end up in the grant-writing field, I thought if I did enough research (in my office, by myself), I could figure it out. When I was confronted with the comprehensiveness of the exam, I realized that I needed resources beyond the study guide. I needed to step outside my comfort zone and get to know other professionals in the field. I would never have done such a thing on my own because of a myriad of respectable reasons, but mostly because I am an introvert.
Thankfully, I am just a couple hours’ drive from the St. Louis Regional GPA Chapter, which offered a weekly GPC study session that was enormously helpful as I prepared for the exam. There I found a small band of accomplished grant professionals willing to teach and mentor others. The study sessions covered everything from the fundamentals, to ethics, to effective communication tools for managing a grants team. I learned how grant professionals from a variety of nonprofit sectors operated and found success. I learned from one-man-shop grant professionals and professionals who specialized in a specific type of funding. What a diverse field we are in!
There is a level of credibility the GPC credential brings, and more importantly, a level of confidence that results from earning it. I feel more equipped to face the ever changing challenges of the grant field. I can create a logic model, I know how to look up guidelines in the CFR, and I have learned better ways to create and manage grant development teams. With that knowledge and confidence, I am more direct with my colleagues and as a result, more effective.
For those of you toying with the idea of pursing your GPC credential: apply for the scholarship. Make a case for yourself, your institution, and your region. If at first you don’t succeed, apply again.