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I have found over the years that despite some great successes as a grants professional, the best lessons I have learned come from the mistakes that I’ve made. While I might cringe or get frustrated at the time, I realize that in the end, I am glad that I went through the experience. In order to make sense of this, I am compiling the reasons why we’re always learning from our mistakes.



Reading the fine print

I have signed contracts, reviewed hundreds of pages of grant guidance and organizational information, but sometimes things get missed. I always try to ensure that I have access to all key information at the onset (application and report deadlines, scope of services in a contract and financial information about a client) so I am not missing any key information that could impact the deliverables or my work.


The right people need to be at the table

I was once told by a client point of contact that certain work can be executed, only to find out later that this was not approved by leadership. Since then, I always try to have the scope of services clearly outlined in the contract (verbal acceptance does not equate to written approval).


Outsourcing is my new best friend

I can take on a lot of work at one time, but instead of spinning my wheels and spending too many nights up late trying to complete everything, I have found partners with whom I can collaborate and offload work as needed.


Review everything that goes out the door

I know that in a rush of activity we can make some mistakes, but I always try to make sure that critical information (such as a foundation cover letter, SF-424 for federal applications and required attachments) is accurate. I have made some last minute changes, and this can mean the different between your application being reviewed or outright rejected for non-compliance with application guidance.


Trust my gut

Those instances where I decided to move forward with a particular project and did not listen to my instinct, I have regretted that decision. Even if it might mean that I am giving up something or saying “no” to potential work, I know that I’ll feel better in the long run.


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