Equity has always been at the core of PEAK Grantmaking, from our founding in 1996 until today. At our inception, we used different terminology for the role of grants professionals, but we were organizing to push for recognition that the role is distinct, deserved job descriptions that aligned it appropriately within funding organizations, and offered compensation commensurate with the skill and complexities of the work. Moreover, we recognized the value of forming a community of peers who could learn, share, and evolve in order to collectively transform the practice of philanthropy.
In 2016, PEAK’s Board of Directors made the decision to weave diversity, equity, and inclusion into our vision, mission, and strategic plan to assert our commitment to advancing equity in philanthropy. We embedded DEI deeply throughout our work – defining the competencies for grants management expertise, elevating the importance of demographic data collection, and enlisting our members in helping us better understand the diversity of the grants management profession.
Since that time, our understanding has grown about how structural racism – and other “isms” that divide us – are rooted in policies and practices that advantage some people and disadvantage others. Philanthropic policies and practices aren’t immune, and we seek to understand disparities caused by grantmaking practice and identify opportunities to make it more equitable. We know that many of our member organizations are grappling with what “equity” means to them, and our goal is to be as supportive as possible across the spectrum of liberation movements; racial equity; and diversity, equity, and inclusion goals that our members are embracing.
Grants management, the home of philanthropy’s policies and practices, must play a significant role in implementing practices that advance equity in every grantmaking organization. Those who lead the process of how grants are made are in a unique position to identify disparities and suggest more equitable practices. They serve as a key link between data on the people, nonprofits, and geography their organization serves and their organization’s strategies and priorities. Grants managers – and all who consider themselves grants professionals – can also be strong internal champions in supporting and influencing their organization’s culture and equity practice.
PEAK is leading the way with our Principles for Peak Grantmaking, an initiative launched in 2019. Created by and for our members, these Principles are our call to action to transform the practice of philanthropy into the practice of principled grantmaking through this values-driven, equity-centered, practice-based roadmap for change.
In 2020, we released a suite of Principles resources specifically designed to help funders Drive Equity in grantmaking practice by reducing bias across all stages of the grantmaking lifecycle, and collecting and using the demographic data that will help funders determine if they’re being successful in directing more support to traditionally marginalized and under-resourced leaders and communities.