Grant professionals are accustomed to setting annual goals for preparing, managing, and reporting on grants. It’s where our minds naturally go when the topic of “Grant Goals” is mentioned. 2017 might bring new opportunities for nonprofit organizations, as well as grant career and business growth for those with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Grants provide a planned investment of funding within and between sectors for new projects, programs, and services that benefit the public. Societal events have an impact on the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and grants. When the Great Recession hit, the ripple effect on nonprofits included staff cuts and myriad other belt-tightening moves to conserve operating capital and minimize loss of endowment from the large stock market fluctuations and Wall Street investment scams. Private grantmaking dipped and grants were focused on safety net programs for the unemployed. President Obama initiated the Recovery Act.
My grant career and business had been going “full speed ahead” for several years with the assumption that there would be plenty of agencies needing grant consulting and proposal writing services. However, in October 2008, I was shocked to receive calls to cancel my services from all of my clients within the same week. The lessons I learned about what it takes to get hired and rehired became the basis for my book, GrantepreneurTM: Getting Started in a Grant Career and Business. I became more adept in applying grant and business skills to advance my cause, community, and career and business (my definition of a GrantepreneurTM).
The action steps for getting hired in the nonprofit sector and grants industry are similar to other professional and technical occupations, with the added requirement of developing specialized grant knowledge, skills, and experience. The job growth outlook through 2024 for occupations that can include grant-related duties (fundraisers, public relations specialists, technical writers, authors/writers, and community service managers) range from 2% to 10% according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. My book includes a Grant Career Action Plan and GrantepreneurTM Strategies that have enabled me to get rehired as well as succeed in a competitive environment. I’ve shared these activities with others who were helped in seeking entry-level positions, advancement, and new client contracts.
The U.S. economic recovery is apparently moving slowly forward with uneven results for consumers and investors. Just 49% of people surveyed in a recent Gallup poll believe U.S. economic conditions are getting better. As we approach the New Year, there is plenty of speculation, uncertainty, and fear about what changes may be coming to the nonprofit sector in the next four years. Backed by Congress, the new Administration may repeal major social and healthcare reforms, shift more responsibility for social programs to the states, and favor free market solutions to social and economic problems. As a GrantepreneurTM, I plan to look for growth in support for social entrepreneurship solutions, and innovative uses for grants.
Action steps you can take today
Examine your grants experience for your strongest niche. A 'niche' might be defined as your best (well-written, high need, largest awards, most passionate) proposals and skill-sets for your populations, programs, and places. This information can be used to build your social media profiles, revise your resume, and make your strongest case for getting hired (and rehired).
Brainstorm innovative actions your organization can take to advocate for your work with elected officials and corporate leaders.
Get involved in advocating for your cause through collaborative associations and movements.
Pay close attention to policy changes by monitoring government sites related to your cause.
Follow “Thought Leaders” for inspiration and social innovation trends.3
Make a list of actions you can take as a grant professional to remain positive and proactive in advancing your cause, community, and career and/or business.