Learn to Write Grants While Waiting on “Normal”

29 Jun 2020

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”                                                                                                                         – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m just gonna say it: This pandemic is taking its toll. For instance, we are frustrated and waiting on “normal”. We are tired of waiting for answers. We want to point a finger at another over wearing masks and over social justice and over many topics. And rightfully, we just want positive change. Here’s a secret that I learned about a decade back during a really low point. I could sit around and complain, OR, as Dr. King so eloquently put it, I could “use the ripe time creatively” and somehow “do right”. I could learn to write grants while waiting on “normal”.

As indicated in GRANTdog’s About page, I was nudged toward grant writing and the “ripe time” was actually during that low personal point. Because, I wanted time to fast forward but I was stuck in it, quite frankly. Thank God [literally] that I could learn to write grants and use my time creatively. Ultimately, I could “do right”. Now, folks allow me to leverage their good work through grants. I look across the process as ‘ashes turned to beauty’, as they say.

Start Someplace

I get asked the following at least a couple a times a month… “How did you learn to write grants? Where do I go if I want to learn?” What was your first step?”

The long, on-line grants learning list is daunting. Especially considering the correlating question between cost and quality. I haven’t vetted every resource out there. That said I can vouch with confidence from my journey and the resources that have worked for me. Follow me as we take a look, and hopefully something will resonate with you to learn to write grants while waiting on “normal”.

GrantwritingUSA– I made the decision to dive into the vast world of grants one week in May 2009. Crazy as it was, I found myself sitting in this two-day training in Columbia, SC the following week, scribbling furiously. GrantwritingUSA provides an excellent overview, with some practical guidance for getting started if you want to learn to write grants. It’s a great place to start.

Dive Deeper into Grants

Do you ever notice that the more you engage in your thing (whatever it is) the more you want to know about how to do it well? So it was. I began writing grants and was immediately thirsty for more. The research led me to the American Grant Writers Association (AGWA), where I met someone who is my mentor to this day.

Through AGWA, I began a three-month, virtual exchange of reading, writing, lessons, and peer review. The work culminated with an in-person day of course summary and a proctored test in November 2009 to earn the Certified Grant Writer® credential. The AGWA marketplace is loaded with options for in-depth courses on competitive proposal writing, earning the CGW credential, a bi-annual conference, and learning specifics such as writing research grants or becoming a consultant.

Go Big or Go Home!

I began to notice that some of my colleagues were pursuing more than one professional affiliation to broaden their grant knowledge. Following their example, I recently joined the Grant Professionals Association. GPA offers monthly chapter meetings of networking and relevant speakers, on-line topical tutorials, a national list serve community, an annual conference, and a Grant Professional Certification. (The eligibility requirements completed, I am studying for the GPC exam now).

Most importantly, GPA opens the door to a national network of professionals who are advanced in their careers and bring valuable insight and problem solving. Some have formed unaffiliated learning and co-working groups such as SmartEGrants. Some have invited me to join their consulting teams with members from across the US, such as The Write Stuff Delaware.

Is NOW the time? …

So let’s finish where we started: Now could be the ripe time to do something “right” and “use time creatively”. If you’ve been saying for some time that you want to learn to write grants, NOW could be your time! If you’ve already dipped your toe in the grant writing pool but want to go further, NOW could be your time! The choice is ours as we sit within this waiting pattern. We can follow our frustrations OR we can position ourselves to be a part of the change we seek as we learn to write grants while waiting on “normal”.

Rhonda Poppen is an independent grant consultant and certified grant writer, working from San Francisco alongside Buddy, Labrador/Great Dane and office mate. She is a self-proclaimed pen, paper and word nerd who pours her heart into writing winning grant proposals.

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