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PEAK Grantmaking

PEAK Members as Champions and Change Agents: Highlights from our 2020 Member Survey

As PEAK looks to lead operational change to drive equity in philanthropy together with our community, we heard encouraging news from our members in a survey we administered last fall. Over 500 PEAK members, representing a cross-section of our growing network of now over 5,500 grants professionals, participated in our survey to provide feedback on PEAK Grantmaking’s benefits and resources and lift up opportunities for PEAK to evolve our offerings. With your help, we also learned who is driving conversations about equity in philanthropy and the degree of influence grants management teams have to drive strategy within their organizations, and across the sector.  

We were heartened to see equity emerge as the top area of interest, outranking the ever-important topics of grantmaking lifecycles, technology management, and career development. The results also indicate that the perspectives of grants managers are valued within their organizations and that PEAK is seen as a trusted partner that helps them to elevate their voices.

In line with your feedback, the PEAK team is working to improve the online user experience, find ways for members to connect more meaningfully within the community, and continue leading conversations and developing resources centered on driving equity. We are excited to share these highlights with our community.

Members are focused on equity and see PEAK as a thought partner.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion was the topic of greatest interest across our member types, earning an average rating of interest of 8.3 out of 10.

Our community also shares PEAK resources focused on equity with their colleagues. Almost 40 percent of contributing Organization Members, who have access to all PEAK benefits, have shared the Drive Equity suite of materials and about 30 percent shared the Black Voices in Grants Management issue of the PEAK Grantmaking Journal and the Narrow the Power Gap suite of materials. Amongst Individual Members, PEAK’s complimentary membership, these resources were shared by 24 percent, 10 percent, and 24 percent, respectively.  

Our members are our champions.

Over the past two years, PEAK’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a standard measure of customer loyalty, increased significantly. Among Organization Members, our NPS increased from 52 to 65 and for Individual Members, it increased from 32 to 47. For context, companies on average score +32 according to global benchmarking data from SurveyMonkey’s global benchmarking data on more than 150,000 organizations..  

Organization Members recognize PEAK’s growing value.

Based on member feedback, we shifted our strategy to increase the value of Organization Membership by creating a robust suite of benefits and resources that are exclusive to our contributing Organization and Consultant members.

These results suggest that approach is meaningful: The suites of materials created around the five Principles for Peak Grantmaking were rated higher (8.4 out of 10) by Organization Members, who have access to all resources for free, than by Individual Members, who have access to only a selection of resources. Individual Members still see strong value in what is accessible with a 7.8 out of 10 rating. The on-demand webinar library and free-access to online courses (additional Organization Member-only benefits) also received high marks (8.2 out of 10). 

Members appreciate PEAK’s professional development resources.

Across all members, our topical webinars, the 2020 Grants Management Salary Survey Report and Grants Management Professional Competency Model, and discounted registration to our annual conference, all ranked as top member benefits. This reinforces that members see some of the tried-and-true benefits provided by many associations as crucial. Continually developing fundamental resources and tools to support our members in their career journeys will be an ongoing priority for our team, even while we add new opportunities that push members to think and act differently to transform philanthropy.  

You identified ways PEAK can improve the member experience.

Members identified two areas for PEAK to improve the member experience: Optimizing our online user experience and  focusing on quality (not quantity) resources which are well-curated by grantmaker type and size. In addition, they identified a desire to better find “their people” within our large community and to enjoy a more seamless process in navigating to our online resources. By investing in PEAK’s technology infrastructure, we can meet the needs of our members and create a seamless experience to access our highly-rated member benefits.  

Grants management professionals are poised to be change agents for equity, if their leaders are ready to lead.  

At funding institutions, grants management professionals report deep engagement in discussions about equitable practices within their grants management teams and senior leadership, rating engagement at 75 out of 100. Boards are less engaged, however; rating engagement at only 60 out of 100.

It is encouraging to affirm that the PEAK network is an eager partner in championing more equitable grantmaking practices. Of note, Organization Members rated the level of engagement for their senior leadership and boards in conversations about equitable grantmaking practices higher than our Individual Members. 

Our current approach of offering exclusive, in-depth resources that support Organization Members in implementing equitable grantmaking practice appears spot-on. Individual Members could benefit from content targeted to making the case for equitable grantmaking practices.

Grants Management teams’ level of influence may be greater than they know.

Along with a baseline on who is having discussions around equity in grantmaking practice, we now have a better understanding of the perceived level of influence that grants management professionals on decision-making about equitable grantmaking, with a 60 out of 100 rating. 

Overall, members rated their level of empowerment to bring ideas and improvements to senior leadership and board at 65 out of 100.  

When we reviewed the level of influence and empowerment by job bands, we unsurprisingly saw that the level of empowerment increased along with job title and responsibility. More surprisingly, we also saw the perceived level of influence of grants management in decision making went up based on job title and responsibility.  Executives rated grants management’s influence higher than supervisors/management, who categorically rated it higher than grants management professionals.). 

It’s hard to tell what’s driving these differences in perception. Perhaps grants management professionals do not fully understand or embrace the influence they have or they do not feel recognized for their contributions. Alternatively, the supervisors/managers and executives who are personally engaged with PEAK may appreciate and recognize the strategic value of grants management at higher levels than peers who are not actively a part of our community. This could be a reason for PEAK to continue to engage philanthropy professionals beyond grants management teams, to advocate for the grants management profession. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in this survey! Moving forward, we are planning to administer a member survey every 18 months.

Although the next PEAK member survey is not scheduled to be fielded in March 2022 – coinciding with our PEAK2022 annual conference in New Orleans – we welcome your input year round. Reach out to our team at We always appreciate hearing from you!