PEAK Grantmaking Board Responsibilities, Eligibility, and Qualifications


PEAK Grantmaking Board Terms

Board terms are three-year terms and directors can be nominated for an additional three-year term (for a total of six years). After a hiatus of at least one term, former board members are again eligible for board service.

PEAK Grantmaking’s board size can range from 7-20 directors.  Typically, PEAK Grantmaking has averaged 16-18 directors.


Board Responsibilities

The Board of Directors primary responsibilities is to:

  • Meet their legal obligations by exercising proper oversight of the organization’s operations and maintaining the legal and ethical accountability of its staff and volunteers.
  • Ensure policies and procedures are in place for effective and prudent governance and oversight.
  • Provide adequate resources for growth and sustainability
  • Set the direction and strategy for the organization


The PEAK Grantmaking board defines the purpose of the organization (mission and vision) and what it wants to accomplish (strategy).  It grounds strategic decisions in a set of values aligned with PEAK Grantmaking’s purpose.

The role of the board in ongoing planning is “strategic thinking”, a state of mind that underscores a continuous process of thinking about all aspects of the organization. Strategic thinking is a continuous exercise, (unlike strategic planning which is periodic) and involves consideration of today’s issues and developments that may have an implication on tomorrow’s activities. Boards that think strategically anticipate the future, explore future scenarios, identify emerging trends and constantly strive to realize their vision.

Board members that are able to think strategically create a culture that focuses on critical issues, encourages the thorough exploration of ideas, and continuously aligns agenda items with organizational priorities.

The Board also oversees strategic planning. Planning enables PEAK Grantmaking’s board and staff to translate the broad mission of PEAK Grantmaking into long-term goals and objectives that can be measured, accomplished and evaluated.  Strategic and business planning go hand in hand and especially in light of PEAK Grantmaking’s long term ambitious goals, external forces, financial requirements and infrastructure needs. The board sets the direction for the organization; on the basis of that direction, the staff fleshes out the plan, defines the strategies to achieve the plan, and determines the operational objectives.

Therefore, the Board, with support from the Strategy Team, is responsible for initiating, leading and overseeing the strategic plan.  Implementation of the plan falls on the shoulders of the ED with advice and counsel of the Board and the Strategy Team of the Board.

Resource Development

One of the most important roles of the PEAK Grantmaking’s board is to provide adequate resources.  While the ED is the “Chief Development Officer”, the board approves the targets and goals to align with PEAK Grantmaking’s plan.  The performance of the board, the ED and the development staff are directly linked to the board’s membership and ability to influence other large grantmakers and monitor PEAK Grantmaking’s overall fundraising initiatives. There should be 100% Board giving.

Not all board members will be able to give significant contributions but should make an annual gift in alignment with their means.  Board members are ambassadors and champions of PEAK Grantmaking and should be willing to do what they can to increase resources by “word and deed.” Where possible, board members are responsible for providing entry to their grantmaking institutions and/or be willing to open doors to other funders and when appropriate, accompany the ED on solicitation visits.


A primary role of the board is the setting of policies and procedures on any number of operational and legal standards with the goal of implementing effective and prudent governance and oversight.  Approving policies and limits that align to the board’s strategies and risk tolerance and by establishing verification functions to provide reasonable assurance of conformity are often developed through multiple committee structures and with guidance by legal obligations.  The board must continue to develop policies that safeguard the organization (risk, fiduciary, employment, conflict of interest, etc.), organizational procedures, as well as anticipate the strategic goals of PEAK Grantmaking and its cultural traditions.  The Audit Committee ensures that all policies guiding the business of PEAK Grantmaking are in place, reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

Legal Obligations

The board acts as trustee of the organization’s assets and ensures that the nonprofit is well managed and remains fiscally sound. In doing so, the board must exercise proper oversight of the organization’s operations and maintain the legal and ethical accountability of its staff and volunteers. The main legal responsibilities of a nonprofit board are often summarized in the “three Ds”:

Duty of Care

Board members are expected to actively participate in organizational planning and decision-making and to make sound and informed judgments.

»Directors must serve in good faith, in a manner reasonably believed to be in the best interests of the corporation and with such care, including reasonable inquiry, skill and diligence, as a person of ordinary prudence would use under similar circumstances.

»Under the principle of justifiable reliance, directors are entitled to rely in good faith on information, opinions, reports, or statements, including financial statements and other financial data, prepared or presented by officers, employees, lawyers, accountants, and Board committees.

Duty of Loyalty

When acting on behalf of the organization, board members must put the interests of the nonprofit before any personal or professional concerns and avoid potential conflicts of interest.

»Directors must have undivided loyalty to the mission and basic well-being of the organization and therefore are prohibited from using the position to further their own interests and are prohibited from engaging in self-dealing.

Duty of Obedience (Compliance)

Board members must ensure that the organization complies with all applicable laws and that it remains committed to its established mission.

»Directors take action to ensure that the organization operates to further its mission in compliance with legal requirements under the Federal tax laws and regulations, legislative/regulatory developments, State laws and regulations governing nonprofits and solicitation of charitable contributions.


Time Commitment

The PEAK Grantmaking board meets four times per year, three times in person in various locations around the country and once via web conference. Travel expense reimbursement is available.

In addition to these board meetings, board members serve on committees and lend their time and expertise to PEAK Grantmaking to represent the organization in the field, advance our work to improve practices, and ensure that PEAK Grantmaking has the financial resources to meet its goals. Each board member works with staff to develop a personalized plan matching their time and talents to PEAK Grantmaking’s needs.


Board Member Eligibility

To be eligible for PEAK Grantmaking board service, candidates must be voting members of PEAK Grantmaking.  Voting members can be:

  • Individuals employed by grantmaking organizations, including nontraditional grantmakers whose primary function and activity is charitable grantmaking to individuals or organizations.
  • Previously eligible voting members who, because of a change in employment status (i.e., laid off but seeking a new position in the field), would otherwise be ineligible to remain members.
  • Retired members who are interested in remaining connected to the profession.
  • Individuals employed by funder networks and philanthropy infrastructure groups.
  • Professors and researchers (but not students) at accredited universities or research institutions whose primary focus of research or teaching is philanthropy or philanthropy-related studies.


Board Member Qualifications

Personal Qualities

PEAK Grantmaking seeks board members from around the country who possess substantial leadership skills, and are equipped for strategic leadership in order to drive the growth and impact of PEAK Grantmaking. We are interested in candidates who have some of the following personal and professional abilities (in no particular order):

  • Visionary and future-focused, possessing an entrepreneurial spirit and critical mind.
  • Risk-takers, who balance the need to take chances with the traditional stewardship responsibilities of board service.
  • Strategic decision-makers who, in partnership with staff leadership, utilize a range of planning approaches and tools.
  • Have a track record of leadership in the field.
  • Exhibit a belief that good grants practice can enhance effective grant making.
  • Can review outcomes and metrics created by PEAK Grantmaking for evaluating its impact, and regularly measuring its performance and effectiveness using those metrics.
  • Effective communicators, who understand the importance of good communication at all levels.
  • Appreciate the distinct differences between the role of the Board and Staff.
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a passion for the mission on behalf of all PEAK Grantmaking’s members.
  • Willingness to be constructive critics.
  • Appreciate the strength that diversity, inclusion and inquiry bring to deliberation and decision-making.
  • Dispersed geographically.


Some combination of the following list of capabilities is desirable. It is not expected that board members will have all capabilities.

  • Experience and accomplishments in philanthropy and/or or the nonprofit sector.
  • Specific experience and/or knowledge in at least one of the following areas: grants management, effective philanthropy, trends and best practices in philanthropy, fundraising, finance/accounting, and working in philanthropic research/studies/academia
  • Are in the forefront or are change agents in philanthropy or field-wide change
  • Ability to support PEAK Grantmaking’s ongoing fundraising efforts by making connections, identifying donors, and when able, accompanying staff to solicit funds through the board member’s organization or others.
  • Ability to network within the community and use their professional connections to build relationships, generate leads and identify opportunities to support the vision and mission of PEAK Grantmaking
  • A willingness to commit to travel as is required to attend quarterly board meetings and the annual conference; to take an active role in discussions and decisions that are put before the board.
  • During board membership term participate fully in and / or chair at least one standing or ad hoc committee.


2019 Priority Candidate Qualities and Capabilities

In addition to the overall qualifications and capabilities described above, PEAK Grantmaking is specifically looking for candidates with:

  • Ability and interest in helping PEAK Grantmaking connect to potential funders.
  • Ability and interest in helping PEAK Grantmaking connect to partner organizations as we increase our visibility beyond the profession to advocate for effective practices.
  • Ability and interest in helping PEAK Grantmaking connect to philanthropy executives as we work to engage this group more in supporting the profession and practices.
  • Corporate grantmakers to represent the interests and needs of that segment of the membership.