When interviewing grant professionals there are a lot of common questions. What will be the fee or cost? Has the professionals relevant experience in the given industry? What is the grant professionals’ overall success rate? These are all valid questions. However, there is potentially a more important question a company should be asking those who prepare their proposals. That question is “What are your ethics, and how can you demonstrate them?”
Ethics are always important, but in cases like proposal writing for funding, they become even more so. Certain stipulations govern both the proposal completion component and the receipt of an award. This is true of both federal and private grants. There are ethical standards that govern how a consultant or grant professional operates. From protecting sensitive client information to how they charge for services, the code of conduct for grant professionals has been set firmly in place by the Grant Professionals Association.
The code of conduct for grant professionals was put into place for a reason. Not only is breaking ethics wrong, but it can have serious ramifications for the client. Nondisclosure is a big part of adhering to ethics. Most clients want their private information kept private, and working with a grant professional with firm ethics can protect this right. Another important aspect of ethics is adhering to the required accounting practices and funding and proposal policy guidelines. An unethical grant professional who plagiarizes a proposal or bends the rules regarding budget or their own payment could not only ruin the reputation of the client but in some cases cause them to be debarred from future grant opportunities or face lawsuits or criminal charges in the case of federal funding.
How to Determine if your Grant professional is Ethical
- Look at their track record and the type of clients they work with.
- Ask for recommendations.
- Review their pro-bono work. Many ethical grant professionals have acted as speakers, presenters, mentors, or in some similar capacity without compensation. This demonstrates their commitment to their community and colleagues and says volumes about their ethics.
- Inquire about their perception of the importance of ethics and ask them to provide an example of when they behaved in an ethical way even though it was more time consuming or difficult.
- See what organizations they belong to or what certifications they have. If they belong to a professional organization or participate in ongoing professional development this demonstrates respect for their profession, themselves, and their clients.
- Vet them on a site. Sites like GPA.com have a searchable database of grant professionals who have obtained membership with them. The Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has a code of conduct that members must adhere to in order to retain their membership.
It may not be the first question that comes to mind during an interview but “where do you stand on ethics?” is the question you should be asking every grant professionals that you interview.
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