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A Gentlemen’s Sport and the Grant Profession

Tuesday, October 13, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cyndi MacKenzie, GPC
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 During the month of October, GPA is joining with our colleagues at the Association of Fundraising Professionals to promote ethics in our professions. 

Soon after getting engaged, I decided to quit a job due to unethical circumstances that I could not live with.  I literally went home one day and said to my fiancé, “If I quit and just do consulting, can we get married sooner rather than later so I can get on your health coverage?”  He was thrilled, and within two weeks, we had a wonderful wedding ceremony with close family and friends. How this transpired has become a story he loves to re-tell. “My wife married me for my insurance” is how the narrative begins amongst the laughter.  I am confident that each of us has a comparable story that gets re-told causing a bit of embarrassment, right?

To be honest, the main reason he was thrilled is because he is an avid golfer and was praying that I would eventually have a job that I could do remotely so we could enjoy his winter home in a golfing community in Florida.  Mind you, I had never played golf nor was I at all interested in a sport that in my mind was boring, a waste of time, and an expense that was not practical for a single mom. Fast forward six years and you will find me hitting the little white ball with my hubby at least twice a week. Second marriages can make us do crazy things!

In golf, the game is very much an individual sport.  We often play in scrambles where it is more of a team effort, but for the most part, golfers win and lose based on their own talent (or lack thereof as is my case) and their behavior.  I came across an article by Edward Charkow, who is the administrator for Golf Swing Analyze. He said it better than I could have: “Golf has long been known as a gentleman's sport. This sport even has its very own rules of etiquette. Despite the common assumption that these rules of golf etiquette are all about maintaining the gentlemanly state of the game for the most part, they each have practical purposes. The general reasons behind the rules of golf etiquette are 1) to ensure the safety of golfers on the course, 2) to keep the flow of the game going, or 3) to assist in the maintenance of the golf course.”  If a golfer cheats, they are penalized or disqualified.

In our membership, we also follow a set of rules: the GPA Code of Ethics.  Like golf etiquette, our Code is all about maintaining the highest professional standards based on principles and guidelines.  We have practical purposes for our Code: 1) to ensure the safety of those we support in all aspects of granstmanship; 2), to keep grant funds flowing into communities with care and concern for the laws and rules associated with these resources; and, 3) to keep the profession growing.

The biggest difference I see between golf and grantsmanship is that if we break our Code, we are personally penalized; and, although our work often feels like we are out playing golf alone, our clients who have put their faith and trust in us to accomplish their missions are also punished.  Therefore, we not only hurting ourselves, our careers, and perhaps our livelihood, but we are also hurting the entire field of grant professionals AND the community where funding could have made a significant impact.

I have come to really enjoy golf. In fact, I now insist that my husband and I take at least one annual vacation to attend a professional golf tournament.  Much like showing up for a GPA conference, the location is always great; I get reinforcement for the ethics of my business and life; and, I also have an opportunity to learn from the pros.  Try it! You may just like it.

To review the GPA Ethics Code,



Author Bio: Cyndi MacKenzie, GPC, has been working with non-profits for 14-years and is a GPA Approved Trainer with offices in Naples, ME, and Brooksville, FL. Cyndi is Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee.

Theme: Ethics


GPCI Competency: 06- Knowledge of nationally recognized standards of ethical practice by grants professionals