Accrediting Grant Seekers

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December 13, 2007

Grant Seekers Can Now Earn Professional Certification

A new credential is now available for grant seekers, through a program created by the American Association of Grant Professionals.

Association officials said they created the new certification program to bring more professionalism to grant-seeking practices. For example, the association said it was concerned that some grant-proposal writers and consultants promise “free money” or suspiciously high success rates — 95 to 100 percent — in obtaining grants.

In addition, existing credentials for fund raisers, such as the Certified Fund Raising Executive, or CFRE, offered by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, fall short in assessing proposal-writing ability, said Michael Wells, vice president of the Grant Professionals Certification Institute, an affiliated nonprofit organization the association established to administer its new certification program.

“The CFRE pays very little attention to grants,” he said.

Mr. Wells said that officials hope the new credential will help qualified proposal writers negotiate better salaries. Research by the Association of Fundraising Professionals has found evidence that credentials do help fund raisers earn more, especially in the early years of their careers.

Written Exam

To obtain the credential, candidates must pass a written examination that tests their skills in obtaining foundation and government grants, have a minimum of three years of proposal-writing experience, and have written at least five proposals that won grants.

In addition, they must have at least two years of higher education, demonstrated involvement in local nonprofit or civic affairs, and participated in educational conferences or other professional training for proposal writers.

The certification, which the association spent seven years developing, is designed for grant seekers who serve on the staff of nonprofit organizations as well as those who provide the same services as a consultant.

Those who meet the requirements will be recognized as “Grant Professional Certified” and will be able to place the GPC acronym after their name in professional communications. To maintain the certification, they must participate in no fewer than 105 hours of professional training and related activities every three years after passing the test.

The certification exam assesses proposal writers’ knowledge in nine areas. Among them: how to design and develop effective projects that will attract grants, how to find philanthropic resources to meet specific needs, and how to develop and maintain strong relationships with grant makers.

At the initial grant-writing certification exam, which took place last month, 101 fund raisers took the test, the results of which are still being analyzed and are expected to be announced in March.

The exam will be offered again in October of next year, and officials are considering adding more dates.

Additional information is available on the institute’s Web site.

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