Join me March 8th, 2019 in celebrating International Grant Professional Day #IGPD!
Can you say you have an international perspective when it comes to grants? I must say even though I work in the Federal grant realm, I wasn’t aware of the broad scope of people working around the world on grants until I started connecting with a variety of people working with USAID funding.
It’s pretty amazing once you start looking because there is a lot going on across the world to make people’s lives better through grant funding. For International Grant Professional Day, I want to introduce you to Pateel Papazian CPA and highlight her work to help grant professionals in the Middle East.
I first met Pateel by email when she approached me about taking the MyFedTrainer.com Grant Management Boot Camp program to Beirut, Lebanon. (Now, full disclosure, I have had international training requests in the past from South Africa to Afghanistan, but going to Lebanon? That was a first!)
Do you even have those moments when your brain says the safe play is to ignore the email? After all, I didn’t know Pateel. But there was something about Pateel’s email that came across as genuine, so I looked up the company in New York she mentioned in her email for and sent them a note. To Pateel’s credit, they responded immediately that Pateel was the “real deal” and a valuable part of their international training staff.
That simple extra step started a connection with Pateel as I learned more about her efforts to increase the level of professionalism and knowledge in the Middle East.
Leading Grant Professionals
As I sit here writing this on International Women’s Day, I realize how blessed I was to grow up in a community of strong women leaders. And here was another amazing woman in charge of the CNAP (Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional) US training program in the Middle East. How could I not feel a connection as she described her vision for this new collaboration of expanding grant management skills starting in Beirut? She managed the ‘Train the Trainers’ programs at KPMG Beirut and has been a part-time instructor at the American University of Beirut since 1999. It was a chance to connect with another CPA leading grant professionals halfway around the world.
But even with Pateel’s list of accomplishments, I was certain there were some challenges working with nonprofits in other counties, so I asked her to share some of them with us in this article.
Challenges of International Grant Development and Management
As you may imagine every country has laws and regulations unique to their location, but also we all share some universal difficulties. Here are three of the challenges and similarities Pateel shared:
Many nonprofits internationally follow the International Financial Reporting Standards called IFRS. As a result, nonprofits can struggle with reporting as they are not as familiar with the US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) standards. I was reminded that no matter what country you are in, understanding expectations of funders so that reporting can provide accurate financial results for the sponsored programs and projects is a key success factor in delivering the outcomes planned with the grants.
Many of us in the US are struggling with the big changes to federal grant compliance with the advent of 2 CFR Part 200. It turns out we aren’t the only ones. Pateel shared that the compliance requirements of US Federal grants are much stricter than the compliance requirements of European grants.
Fortunately, the renewed focus on internal controls with Federal grants uses universal concepts that are shared across most countries, so we can all use similar policies and procedures for this compliance requirement.
In the area of training, we are also very similar. Despite a large number of people working directly and indirectly on grants internationally, the approach to who to train and how much training is eerily familiar. Most training programs participants seem to lean heavily towards the finance staff with a small sliver of the people who work directly on the program.
In order to increase the skills and performance of grant professionals across the world, we need to ensure that the widest groups of people working with grants receive the training they need on the requirements to which they will be measured by funders. One example Pateel shared was the need to ensure that the staff at nonprofits outside of the US are literate in the requirements of US GAAP to meet the common expectation of US funding sources.
Connect with Other Grant Professionals
Another common concern of grant professionals internationally is the desire to understand the future funding climate for both grant funders and recipients. The more we communicate between ourselves as a community about what topics are trending, best practices for proposals, and innovative approaches to performance measurements, the better environment we can create for the future.
One of the best ways I have found to connect with other grant professionals is to join professional associations like the Grant Professional Association-sponsor of International Grant Professional Day #IGPD. The other place I like to meet new grant professionals is in professional networks such as LinkedIn. As we celebrate International Grant Professional Week, please take a moment to meet, encourage, and learn from our international colleagues in the grant world. Start today!
Lucy Morgan CPA, MBA
CEO, Compliance Warrior