Whether you are a grant professional, grant writer, or you work with one, have you ever wondered about ethics?

Sure, there’s the rare story about the grant writer impersonator who gets paid by the nonprofit and claims they submitted and received state grant awards, only to pocket the money. It’s real and it happened just a few years ago.

But more common are the everyday situations that require us to check in with our professional ethics.

Can we pay you with a commission on the grant awards we win? (absolutely NOT)

Would you mind submitting this government grant on our behalf? (yes, I would mind since that is illegal)

Can we take you to lunch? (depends, but likely yes)


What is a grant pro to do when you don’t have the answers at your fingertips? 


You can turn to the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) Code of Ethics. I joined GPA in 2010, just a year after starting Grants4Good and it’s been a great resource. GPA is a “nonprofit membership association, committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards.”


You can read their 20-point code of ethics but here’s sample of one of many codes that as a GPA member, I’m required to abide by:


[GPA] Members shall take care to ensure that all solicitation materials are accurate and correctly reflect the organization’s mission and use of solicited funds. (yes, absolutely and of course!)


Members shall not disclose privileged information to unauthorized parties. Information acquired from an organizations’ participants is confidential. (I feel very strongly about this one)


Members shall not accept or pay a finder’s fee, commission, or percentage compensation based on grants and shall take care to discourage organizations from making such payments. (well said, but I sometimes wonder what my salary would have been taking commission on a major federal grant 😊 Nope, won’t do it)


Continually improve one’s professional knowledge and skills. (THIS is what I love most about my profession. Always learning AND always sharing my knowledge)


So to answer your question…Are grant professionals ethical?

Yes, as long as you make sure they abide by a code of ethics, whether that’s a formal code such as GPA’s or whether they have their own code in writing that they can share with you.

margit brazada poirier

Hi, I’m Margit Brazda Poirier

I founded Grants4Good in 2009 to help nonprofit organizations and businesses find and get grants. Since then, I’ve helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for programs via private coaching, customized grant writing training, and my course All About Grant Writing.

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