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Monthly Archives: November 2013

One enduring trait of the evolution of American grantsmanship in the 2010s is the continuing effort to elevate, standardize, and formalize the training and professional status of its practitioners. Among the organizations leading it are the American Grant Writers’ Association and the Grant Professionals Association.


American Grant Writers’ Association:

The American Grant Writers’ Association (AGWA) was founded in 2002. AGWA individual membership is $79 for one year, $150 for two years, or $220 for three years. Business memberships are available for $129 for one year, $250 for two years, or $370 for three years. The website is


AGWA advances professionalization through professional standards and a code of ethics and access to professional liability insurance (E&O). It offers networking resources such as a two-day annual grant conference, a listing in a networking membership roster for certified grant writer consultants, and a members-only portal. In addition, AGWA offers continuous education-related services such as six online courses, a four-day grant researching and proposal writing workshop, a four-book bookstore, a members-only newsletter, and the Certified Grant Writer® (CGW) Exam, which is its credentialing exam. It features employment-related services such as information about how to hire a grant writer and making members’ résumés available to prospective employers.

Grant Professionals Association:

The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), formerly American Association of Grant Professionals (AAGP), was founded in 1998. GPA regular individual membership is $199/year; other types of membership are available. Chapter dues are additional. Its website is


GPA offers a Consultant Mentoring Program and publishes both an online newsletter and a peer-reviewed journal with limited public access to its contents. Its networking resources include a three-day annual conference, an extensive bookstore, and access to 60 webinars. The GPA advances professionalization through a Grant Professional Certification (GPC) program conducted through the Grant Professionals Certification Institute™ (GPCI). Its employment-related services include a Job Center with a searchable job postings database and a consultants listing for firms seeking to retain a grant-writing consultant.



The professionalization of grant writing doesn’t come cheaply. The GPA’s regular individual membership fee of $199 is 251% more costly than AGWA’s $79 regular individual membership fee. Its $575 regular member conference registration costs more than twice what AGWA’s $229 regular member conference registration costs. Finally, the cost of GPA’s regular credential exam (GPC) for members ($539) is slightly more than AGWA’s regular fee ($499) for members for its one-day exam review plus its credential exam (CGW).



Discussion of the existence of the AGWA and the GPA is intended for informational purposes only. Endorsement or sanction of either association is neither intended nor implied.


Return on investment (ROI) is a useful metric for tracking productivity in grant seeking. Unlike some others, it takes the perspective of those who pay for grant writing services rather than of those who provide them. Its calculation should cover the costs of a grant writer’s activities that precede a grant award notification. Among such costs are prospecting, planning, researching, writing, and publishing – but not managing or evaluating or reporting. The latter are among the costs of having a grant and keeping it, rather than those of seeking one.


Multi-Year Grants

Some grant awards yield multi-year funding. Often they require multi-year budgets at the time of initial application. In such cases, if only one proposal will secure a multi-year grant, then I’d count the entire approved budget toward ROI in the year it was first funded. If a multi-year grant will require a separate proposal each year, then I’d count each year’s award toward ROI in the year it is awarded.


Grant Requests and Grant Awards

Sometimes grant awards differ from grant requests. If a funder awards a grant for an amount less than or more than what a proposal requested, then I’d count that actual award amount toward ROI, not the requested amount.


Some proposals may have sub-budgets (or sub-contracts) for partners in a project or initiative. So long as they form part of the same grant award, I’d count them toward ROI.


Formula Grants

Some proposals may be for formula-based grants, not competitive ones. I’d count these grant awards toward a grant writer’s overall ROI, since there are still costs incurred (investments) in preparing such proposals. Clearly, I wouldn’t count such grant awards toward that part of a grant writer’s ROI that may need to reflect results strictly in securing competitively awarded grants.


Grant Management

If a grant writer performs other functions in a development office, such as grant administration, I’d record and report them but I wouldn’t count them toward ROI. The cost of investments in managing or retaining grants is arguably distinct from the cost of pursuing them. Planning that leads to new (or renewed) public or private grant awards – whether competitive or formula – may count toward one’s ROI as a grant seeker; managing existing grant awards is seldom if ever a grant-seeking function, and should not count toward ROI as a grant seeker.


Withheld Grant Proposals

Some grant leads may prove to be dead ends. And at times – even up to the last moment before a deadline – an applicant may decide not to submit a proposal. I’d count both situations toward calculating ROI. The former because it reflects prospect research, which is a function that’s part of seeking a grant award. The latter because a withdrawn or withheld proposal still incurs costs (or investments) in developing the proposal, even if it never gets out the door.


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