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Becoming the "MacGyver" of Grants

For any grant professional, a key strength is being resourceful. We don’t necessarily need to know everything or have all of the answers, but we DO need to know how to find those answers and those pesky bits of information that are required by an application or a report! So what are some of the best ways to build resilience through your resources?


Remember that you have access to two primary types of resources – external and internal. We so often think about external organizations or groups, but don’t forget to also look inward at your own organization!

External Resources

Some of the best external resources are the Grant Professionals Association (GPA),, and My top tips for making the most of these organizations are:

Join and get actively involved in GPA

Volunteer at the Annual Conference, write an article, attend a Chapter meeting, become a mentor and/or mentee, and participate in the online Grant Zone forums. You’ll encounter a welcoming network of grant professionals at all levels and from all industries, and everyone is always willing to share their expertise, best practices, encouragement, and support.

Take advantage of Resources from Candid.

Subscribe to email newsletters and weekly RFP updates. Fully explore all of the Candid’s resources, from the free webinars to the paid, in-person trainings to the amazing and comprehensive Foundation Directory Online database.

Get to know Search Grants

If you write federal proposals, then should be your go-to, one-stop shop to find funding announcements, training opportunities, updates on the Workspace process and structure, and detailed guidance on how to complete and submit federal applications. An often overlooked resource gem on is the ability to search not only open opportunities but also those forecasted for the future. This is a great tool to get advance notice about upcoming announcements and to help you anticipate upcoming trends or new funding possibilities.


Internal Resources

Now let’s look inward and identify some of the best internal resources either at your disposal or that you should work to develop!

Create a library of common attachments

Keep updated copies of common attachments in an easily accessible location. Documents for your attachment library should include the following, at a minimum: IRS determination letter, Board of Directors list, organizational budgets, 990 forms, audits & financial statements, bylaws, key staff bio blurbs, descriptions of programs and activities, strategic plans, and annual reports.

Make yourself into an archive of grant information

Become the go-to person and clearinghouse for anything grant related. This can include opportunity announcements, classes and workshops, prospecting and management tools, etc. Let your colleagues know they should forward you this type of information or that they can ask you to refer them to these resources if necessary.

Promote your work

Make your work visible! Share opportunities and successes with colleagues, staff, and leadership. By promoting your work, you’ll help others understand the importance of grants to the organization, which will then help you build strong relationships for future grant project teams. Cultivating internal bench strength throughout all levels of an organization will make your job more rewarding, literally and figuratively. 

By carefully growing your garden of resources – both external and internal – you’ll achieve more impactful results and greater success for your grant efforts. And perhaps you’ll one day be considered the ultimate “MacGyver” of the grants profession!

This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

About the Author

A devoted Red Sox fan, Jodi is the Director of Strategic Support for Colleges & Scholars at the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Jodi has worked with health and education non-profits since 1997, including as Deputy Director of Development & Training at the California Primary Care Association (CPCA); Director of Grants, Data, & Research at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte; as a teacher and trainer for Kaplan Test Prep; and as a Foreign Language Technologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her 17+ years as a grant professional, she raised nearly $40 million from public and private entities, including awards for core operating support, special projects and programs, and event sponsorship. Jodi holds a PhD in French Literature from the UW-Madison, an MA in French from Middlebury College, and a BA in French & Theatre from Wesleyan University.

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