10 Professional Development Strategies for Grant Professionals

Recharge your grant work, and get ready for the grant writing challenges ahead in 2019 with these strategies from Dr. Judy Riffle.

When I first started working on grants as a school district employee, I wish someone had suggested quality professional development opportunities which would hone my fundraising skills. Do you wonder where to look to improve your skills?

“Learning is like rowing upstream. As soon as you stop, you begin drifting backwards.” Wonderful wisdom from Hayes McClerkin in his book, Shortcuts to Life’s Secrets.

After many years in the grant profession both as an employee and a consultant, I can share these ten strategies to energize you in 2019 and beyond:

  1. Network, learn and find like-minded grant professionals. The Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference (GPA) 2019 will be in Washington, D.C. November 6-9 where there are many invaluable opportunities. You can attend in person, or virtually. GPA also hosts frequent webinars throughout the year.
  2. Seek professional development funding opportunities. If you need help paying for conferences like the GPA, check out the Grant Professionals Foundation conference scholarships, which open May 1.
  3. Check out in person workshops, conferences, webinars, forums and publications. The expert attorneys Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC offer federal education and workforce development grant knowledge and training opportunities.
  4. Spend time building skills. Consider attending the 2019 Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in San Diego October 28-30, purchase the session videos to share with others, or both.
  5. Serve as a grant peer reviewer. This is the best way to learn what funded grants look like, and a great way to hone collaborative and leadership skills by working on a grant review committee.
  6. Write some blog articles on topics you wish you were more knowledgeable about. GPA and other organizations always need more authors.
  7. Share your knowledge and teach. Present or co-present a workshop or conference session.
  8. Read online. I like the Charity Channel, The Nonprofit Times, GrantSpace and GPA.
  9. Learn about grant management. The National Grants Management Association has resources, including an annual conference.
  10. Sign up for helpful publications, like Blue Avocado, a magazine for nonprofits.

We always have more to learn. What will you learn in 2019?

About the Author

Judy Riffle, Ed.D, is a former teacher, university mentor, and K-12 central office administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education and educational leadership. She was a school district Director of Federal and State Programs in Arizona, including additional hats as a grant writer/manager, English Language Learner Director, Homeless Student Liaison, technology committee facilitator, fundraiser and teacher professional development coordinator. Dr. Riffle began writing state, federal, corporate and foundation grants in 2008 for a school district, and branched out to independent grant consulting in 2011. Since 2012, she has served on six federal grant review panels. Encompassing over 20 years of experience in the field of education, she also serves on the Grant Professionals Association Grant News Publications Subcommittee, Grant Professionals Foundation Marketing Committee, the GPF Silent Auction Committee, and several nonprofit Governing Boards.

Read more grant professionals advice from Riffle:

The Education Grant Professional’s Must-Have Books

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