Gateway to Grant Success: 17th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference

This is a guest post from Kelli Romero, Membership Director at the Grant Professionals Association


The 17th Annual Grant Professionals Association* conference will be held in St. Louis, Missouri on November 11­14, 2015. This year, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has blazed a trail of new and exciting workshop sessions, innovative learning experiences and networking opportunities.

This is a must ­attend event for anyone involved with grant management and grant proposal preparation. GPA Conference workshops offer expert advice from the grant profession’s most successful and accomplished grant proposal developers/managers. Workshop tracks include: Proposal Development and Planning, Donor Relations and Research, Grant Management and Reporting, Evaluation and Collaboration, and Federal Grants. Sessions are targeted to individuals with varying levels of experience from beginner to mid­career to advanced topics (new this year).

Workshops cover topics such as:

  • State of Grantseeking and Its Implications for Grant Professionals – presented by Altum’s own Dahna Goldstein!
  • Grant Management (Not) For Dummies: The Price You Pay After the Award]
  • How to Stage a Proposal Like Staging a Home – Emphasize Best Assets
  • Understanding Online Grant Applications­Interactive Q & A
  • Overcoming the Challenges of Grant Seeking and Management in Large, Fiscally Diverse Organizations

Several workshops focus on specific fields, such as grant management, government, education, human services, and faith based organizations.

This year’s conference will highlight some keynote and featured speakers as well as some wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, such as Altum!

Who Should Attend:
Anyone involved in grants: Grant Writers, Grant Managers, Grant Consultants, Grants Officers, Grant Coordinators, Development Directors, Executive Directors, Government Relations Officers, Financial Officers and any other Grant Professionals. Any level of experience, beginner to expert.

In today’s extremely competitive world for grant awards, the organization that invests in the professional development of its grant professional increases its odds of receiving grant funding tremendously. The opportunity to meet and learn from this caliber of presenters will not be matched at any other venue.

Registration for this conference is a small investment for the knowledge and increased competency you will gain at this premier event. To find out more information about the conference or register go to: 17th Annual GPA Conference.

*The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. Founded in 1997, GPA has grown close to 2,000 active members representing all 50 states and internationally. More than 50 chapters have formed in the past five years.

Author: Dahna Goldstein
August 20, 2015, 02:49 PM

Philanthropy Statistics – Giving In Numbers

numbers picture

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy released the “Giving In Numbers” report highlighting current trends in corporate philanthropy.

Among the findings:

  • 60% of surveyed corporations gave less in 2009 than they did in 2008.  Interestingly, the percentage of corporations that decreased giving the 2008, in the first big philanthropy hit of the financial crisis, was lower (46%);
  • Total giving by corporations increased 7%, which seems contradictory given the number of corporations that decreased their giving, but is accounted for by significant increases in pharmaceutical company donations (including large amounts of in-kind medicine donations) and increased company giving as a result of mergers and acquisitions;
  • A key point - and something that differentiates corporate giving (as a whole) from other types of institutional giving (as a whole) is the amount of non-foundation giving.  Corporate giving numbers include in-kind donations (frequenly product donations), matching gifts (from employee donations), company giving, and foundation giving.  There has been increasing talk about strategic alignment of corporate philanthropy (and corporate social responsibility) programs, which helps explain why product/in-kind donations may not always fall as quickly as cash donations, even in bad economic times;
  • That said, corporate foundation cash giving was the most stable giving source (i.e., fluctuated the least) of the different giving sources examined in the survey.

The report indicates corporations' dedication to continuing to support their communities, particularly in difficult economic times, which I find encouraging, particularly if those corporations are finding strategic alignments for their philanthropy -- making philanthropy not an afterthought, or something good to do, but something that is a necessary part of the way they do business.

Nonprofits seeking donations from corporations should take away a few key points -- that they should not necessarily rely on continued corporation support, that they should focus on aligning their proposals with corporations' strategic objectives, and that they should find the companies in their communities that are committed to serving the type of organization that is looking for funding.  In addition, grantseekers should think about what non-cash benefits and relationships they might be able to form on an ongoing basis with companies in their communities.


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Author: Dahna Goldstein
November 02, 2010, 02:00 PM

Grant Dating, Part 2: Preparing for Your First Date

This is Part 2 of the Grant Dating series, following Part 1: Getting Out There.

That first date can be nerve wracking.  You've found someone interesting through a mutual friend or an online service.  You think they're cute (as foundations go) and you want to make a good impression.

Note: if you're looking for actual dating advice, you're in the wrong place.  If you want grant datting advice, read on.

Do your homework.  Before your grant date (whether it's a phone call or a meeting), learn whatever you can about the foundation, its funding priorities, what it has funded in the past.  Make sure you're up to date on innovations and new things in your issue area.  You want to be able to impress the funder with your knowledge.  There are few things that are more of a turn-off on a first date than not having some basic information.  (Note to those of you looking for relationship - not grant - advice and are still reading: Googling your date too much - and starting with detailed knowlede about them gets a little creept.  But it works well for grant dating.)

Prepare some questions to ask.  Remember, this is a relationship.  While you need to talk about you (and compellingly...more about that below), be sure to ask your grant date about him/herself, too.  Everyone likes to talk about themselves (to some degree), and asking questions can both build a rapport and provide useful information about how to prepare a proposal or move forward in building a relationship.

Be yourself.  You've gotten a first date with this funder.  Try to relax, and talk about your organization and what makes it great.  Don't try to talk in headlines -- present good, compelling information about your organization (both numbers and stories are good), but remember that this is a conversation, and that you're just starting to get to know each other.  Be sure that you're not saying anything in this first date that you won't be able to substantiate in a later date.  And remember that they liked you enough to agree to the date -- don't try to be someone you're not.

What are your tips for preparing for a first grant date?  What other grant dating advice would you like to read?

teddy bear date

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Author: Dahna Goldstein
October 04, 2010, 02:52 PM

Philanthropy Statistics Update – Giving Trends and the Economy

numbers in boxes

Following up on last month’s post about philanthropy statistics, here are a few more, drawn from the Foundation Center’s Highlights of Foundation Giving Trends, and GuideStar’s The Effect of the Economy on the Nonprofit Sector:

  • From the Foundation Center:
    • In 2008, 164,353 grants were awarded by a sample of 1,490 large foundations to 63,794 recipient organizations;
      • The average number of grants awarded by each of those 1,490 large foundations was 110;
    • The amount of grant dollars dedicated to program support (~50%) and general support (~19%) remained consistent with the previous year’s numbers;
    • All foundation types (independent, corporate, and community) prioritized giving for education and human services.  Independent foundations also prioritized giving for health, though that data could be slightly skewed by the large number of dollars the Gates Foundation has poured into health funding;
  • From the GuideStar survey:
    • 40% of respondents say that total contributions to their organizations decreased in the first five months of the year, compared to the first five months of 2009, while 28% stayed the same;
      • A previous GuideStar survey, whose results were released around the same time last year, found that 52% of respondents said that total contributions to their organizations had decreased compared to 2008.  The fact that fewer nonprofits are now reporting decreases is somewhat encouraging, but does not imply that those nonprofits that did not report a decrease this year are necessarily in good shape from a fundraising perspective;
    • Decreases in individual giving where the top-cited reasons for contributions decreasing (both fewer gifts and smaller gifts);
      • Given that individuals make up the largest percentage of donations to nonprofits, this is not surprising;
    • Corporate gifts and foundation grants also happened in fewer numbers and for fewer dollars;
    • Though fewer grants were awarded, 41% of grantmakers reported that the number of requests they received increased;
    • 62% of grantmaking organizations (both private foundations and grantmaking public charities responded to the survey) indicated that they had not made any major changes to their grantmaking practices.  Last year, 43% of grantmakers had made changes as a result of the economy.  In 2009, 20% said they had cut back on the types of programs they funded; this year, that number was down to 12%.  Here’s hoping it’s 0% in the next survey.


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Author: Dahna Goldstein
August 25, 2010, 03:59 PM

Grant Dating, Part 1: Getting Out There

broken heart

You may have just had your heart broken.  It seemed like things were going well.  Everything was perfect on paper.  You were talking about it with friends.  You thought you had found the one.  And then, out of the blue, it ended.

Every grantseeking nonprofit has had this experience.  Your programs match the funder's interests and priorities.  You put together a thoughtful proposal, addressing the funder's particular interests, hoping to land significant funding.  It looks promising, and then it doesn't happen.

Like dating, grant dating is relationship building, and it takes time, dedication, interpretation of unclear signals, and some strategy.  And a little flirting doesn't hurt.

Step one - put yourself out on the market.  Even if your last grant date was a disappointment, you need to get back out there.  Yes, rejection hurts, but learn from it and move on.  You're good enough, you're smart enough, and, doggone it, people like you (with apologies to Stuart Smalley).

Putting yourself back on the grant market means doing a few things:

  • Take stock of your past funder relationships.  Have you stayed in touch?  Do you know their current priorities?  What happened to end the relationship?  Might they be open to exploring a future relationship?  If not, what can you learn about how to position yourself with other funders?
  • See who's out there.  Who is currently funding your issue area?  Your geographic area?  Start with the Top Five Resources for Grant Opportunities.  Even if a funder isn't currently accepting proposals, this could be a good time to start building a relationship.  You have to play the field a bit to find the right relationship.
  • Let your friends know you're dating.  A lot of funding relationships evolve from personal connections.  Do you know anyone at a foundation that hasn't yet funded your organization?  Does one of your board members?  Or a volunteer?  Ask for an introduction.
  • Create your online dating profile.  What is the impression you want to make on a prospective funder?  What information should be on your organization's website if a potential funder visits the site?  How can you put your best foot forward in an initial meeting?  It may only be a phone date, but you want to make a good first impression.  Be prepared to talk about your organization when you meet people at conferences, at networking events, or when you're introduced by a mutual friend.

Next up, preparing for your first date.  Stay tuned!



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Author: Dahna Goldstein
August 10, 2010, 04:01 PM

Top 5 Resources for Grant Opportunities

top five clock
This is the first in an occasional series of “Top 5 Resources” posts.  Each of these posts will propose a list of the top 5 resources for a particular category or issue, and ask you to suggest others if I’ve missed something that you think should be in the top five.  I’ll revisit and revise these lists from time to time, based on any input received in the comments on the posts.

The objective of these lists is to help compile an efficient reference and resource list for people working in philanthropy – people who work for or with grantmakers or grantseekers – in keeping with PhilanTech’s mission to help social sector organizations maximize social impact.  These lists, modified with any good suggestions received through comments, will be added to the Resources section of the PhilanTech website.

So without further ado, here are the top 5 resources for finding grant opportunities:

  1. Foundation Center
  2. The Foundation Center is a national nonprofit that provides information about the foundation world to the philanthropic sector and others who want to learn about it.  The Foundation Center maintains a database of the more than 98,000 grantmaking institutions in the U.S., drawn from their tax forms, other public documents, and voluntary reports submitted by foundations.  It offers subscription-based access to its Foundation Directory Online (FDO); the FDO can also be searched for free in any of the Foundation Center’s libraries or cooperating collections.

  3. GrantStation
  4. GrantStation is an online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world.  A subscription-based service, GrantStation provides up-to-date, researched information about current funding opportunities.  Grantseekers can search for foundation, state government and federal government funding opportunities, in addition to international funding opportunities.  GrantStation also publishes the GrantStation Insider, a weekly update of current funding opportunities, grant-related training opportunities and more.  Note: the Insider is sent at no charge to all subscribers to PhilanTech’s free mailing list.

  5. CharityChannel
  6. CharityChannel is an online community for charity professionals in which articles and book reviews are published by nonprofit sector professionals.  Available for a small subscription fee, the resources in CharityChannel include Don Greismann’s Grant Opportunities.  Don Greismann publishes a weekly e-newsletter that includes current funding opportunities, and has written prolifically about grant opportunities, and the tools of the trade.

  8. is the clearinghouse for Federal government grant opportunities.  Applicants can search for current opportunities and can apply for Federal funding opportunities.

  9. GrantsAlert
  10. GrantsAlert is a free, ad-supported, website that lists grant opportunities, with a particular emphasis on education grant opportunities for nonprofits, schools, and districts.

There are other research organizations that provide current information about local or issue-oriented grant opportunities, like Jankowski Research in the DC/MD/VA area (where PhilanTech is headquartered).

What are your favorite resources for finding grant opportunities?  Add your favorites to the comments below.

(Full disclosure: GrantStation is a PhilanTech partner.  We like them a lot.  And I’m on the Foundation Center’s DC Library Advisory board.  Both organizations are great resources for grantseekers and for the philanthropic sector at large.)


Top 5 graphic by 

Author: Dahna Goldstein
June 10, 2010, 12:00 PM

Streamlining Grants Management – Common Application Forms

Common Grant Applications

Common grant applications seem like a no-brainer, right? If colleges can get together and agree on a common application, why can't foundations? Seventeen associations of grantmakers have painstakingly brought groups of their members together and created common application and reporting forms (see the Foundation Center's list of common grant applications). The idea is to have all grantmakers in a region accept the same form, thereby enabling grantseekers to create one grant application and submit it to multiple grantmakers.  The common forms aim to save significant time for the grantseeker.

In principle, this is a great idea.

In practice, it has some problems. In many cases, only a fraction of the association's members actually accepts the common forms. In other cases, the associations acknowledge that some grantmakers that accept the common forms make modifications to the agreed-upon forms, or require additional information from their grantseekers. In addition, nonprofits offen apply to a range of grantmakers, not all of which are members of a particular regional association.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of anything that streamlines grants management and saves time for both the nonprofits seeking grant funds and the grantmakers awarding those funds. The PhilanTrack online grants management system supports the common forms developed by the regional associations of grantmakers. And PhilanTech's research with the Urban Institute suggests that there are many commonalities in the information requested in grant reporting and application processes by foundations. Those commonalities serve as the basis for PhilanTrack's "Find Similar Questions" functionality.

But common forms only go so far if not all grantmakers accept them, if grantmakers both modify them and require additional information, and if multiple common forms are in use around the country.

There are some pieces of information that almost every foundation requests of its applicants (proof of 501(c)(3) status, for example), and it would be ideal if nonprofits did not have to reenter or re-upload that information for every grant application. PhilanTrack's approach is to enable easy reuse of common information while still enabling foundations to request information from grantseekers in a way that meets their individual process and decision-making requirements.

What do you think? Is it possible to create one common form that each of the 75,000 foundations in the U.S. would use? If not, what are other ways for foundations to get the information they need to make good decisions and be responsible stewards without placing undue administrative burdens on nonprofits?

Author: Dahna Goldstein
May 17, 2010, 05:01 PM

Online Grants Management - Welcome to Rants About Grants

Welcome to Rants about Grants (and other musings about the social sector).  Yes. I’m a bit late to the blogging party, but I’ve been busy.  I’ve been focused on developing a great product, building a socially-responsible company, and serving the social sector.

None of that has changed, but I've realized that all of the above could be helped by starting this blog, so here it is.

As part of PhilanTech’s dedication to helping the social sector, this blog will share:

  • Best practices in
    • Using PhilanTrack,
    • Grant making,
    • Grant seeking;
  • Things I’m learning from our clients, partners, and the sector in general;
  • Relevant information from around the sector and the blogosphere. While PhilanTech’s focus is on streamlining grants management, nothing in the social sector happens in a vacuum, and there are many good resources, writers, thinkers, and opportunities around the sector and in the blogosphere at large; and
  • Periodic rants about grants, nonprofit technology, and the social sector in general.

This blog will provide a way for you to get to know PhilanTech better – our philosophy, products and services, partners, and our thoughts about grant making and grant seeking.  And it’ll be a way for us to get to know you and your needs better.  If you have any thoughts, suggestions or ideas, please leave a comment below or contact us.

drowning in paperwork
(image used under Creative Commons License)

Author: Dahna Goldstein
May 17, 2010, 04:58 PM

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