GPCI believes that it is essential for the nonprofit community, as well as the community-at-large, to understand the role grant professionals play in the overall health of a nonprofit organization, and the power it has over the outcomes of its fund seeking.
The list of credentialing beneficiaries goes far beyond the grant professional who receives the credential. It includes grantseeking organizations, the beneficiaries and clients of those organizations, the general public, government and would-be government regulators.
More than 850,000 charities, 500,000 churches, 725,000 nonprofit organizations and 23,485 educational institutions exist in the United States today. The exchange of charitable dollars for goods/services represents a national gross product of more than $1 billion annually. Further, experts posit that more than 100,000 individuals serve as “brokers” between grant seekers and grant funders. Commonly referred to as grant writers, these “brokers” require no special training or education. They are not regulated by an authoritative body nor held to ethical standards by their peers.
To the public, grant writing is viewed as a technical skill that can be acquired with a few days training. Only to the dedicated professional is the activity that occurs between seeker and funder understood as well-defined process with accountability to the funder, the fund seeker and the consumer. Good grant professionals work between grant seeker and funder, using their skills to ensure a match between the seeker’s capacity and the funder’s mission. Good grant professionals conduct research and needs assessments, engage in strategic planning, fiscal planning, technical writing and evaluation, all within an ethical framework.
However, with no regulation, midnight infomercials espousing that anyone can “get free money,” grant training programs advertising the opportunity to find a new profession and become a “certified” grant writer in a week, and “hired-gun” grant writers proclaiming 95% to 100% success rates, it is no wonder that unethical practices abound. With CBOs spending millions of dollars unsuccessfully seeking funds and funders receiving proposals with no merit, it is not surprising to hear, as in the words of one funder, that the relationship between funder and grant professional is “tenuous at best.” These practices have also caught the eye of government and as a result, in the past few years the field has seen a move toward government regulation as more individual state governments institute fund raising and grant writer registration and/or licensure.
The field of grantsmanship is emerging as a profession. Rapid growth within Grant Professionals Association speaks to this tenet. Grant Professionals Association began in 1997 with six volunteers. By 2000, membership had grown to 104. Today, more than 2,800 individuals belong to Grant Professionals Association with no signs of slowing down. In 2000, 45 individuals attended Grant Professionals Association’s annual conference. Today, that number has swelled to more than 800.The fact that government is seeking regulation is another litmus test to the professional direction of the field.
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