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PEAK Grantmaking

A Collective Burst of Courage for Principled Practices

For philanthropy to realize its potential, we need to move from talking to action. Let’s act on big ideas like equity and inclusion, narrowing the power gap in our sector, being authentically engaged in our communities, listening and learning from our partners, and living out our values in our practice. The Principles for Peak Grantmaking help funders take that action, so that the practice of philanthropy becomes the practice of principled grantmaking.

These principles were created by and for our members. Our members are the leaders who have the power to bring tangible, real-life, and practical implementation to these big ideas. Our members have nearly three decades of coming together as a community, not to celebrate the status quo, but in a quest for more efficient, effective, and equitable practices. Let’s embrace these principled practices on behalf of our organizations and our grantees.

My first introduction to PEAK was at the 1996 Council on Foundations conference where an overflowing roundtable talked for two hours about how to be more effective in our jobs and how to improve practices. I knew I’d found my people. Over the years, this community helped build my competencies as a grantmaker, resulting in stronger controls, improved transparency, valuable feedback, more measurable impact, and reduced costs for both my organization and our grantseekers.

Leading practice change in my organization wasn’t easy. I built strong written and verbal communication skills. I developed a toolkit of persuasive arguments to gain buy-in for change. I invited myself to meetings (capitalizing on my colleagues’ reluctance to be rude and tell me no). Sometimes I had to slow down (not my favorite speed) and give my colleagues time to process my recommended changes. I was resilient and did not give up, waiting for new opportunities (and sometimes new staff) to push practice improvement. I didn’t think about it at the time, but all of that took courage. The courage to voice new ideas, the courage to advocate for them, the courage to not always take “no” for the final answer, and the courage to admit defeat and move on to the next idea. I developed that courage from this amazing community—from the examples my peers set and their generosity in sharing their experiences.

In my current role leading PEAK Grantmaking, I’m privileged to now look beyond a single organization and envision what philanthropy could look like with a collective burst of courage. We can shed outdated policies that erode rather than build trust between grantmakers and grantseekers. We can root our practices in our values to “walk the talk” and show up authentically in the world. We can deliver more funding to organizations and communities of color by addressing bias and reduced inequities caused by our grantmaking practices. When grantmaking practices are at their “peak,” more resources are focused on mission over administration for both grantmakers and grantseekers, leading to greater impact for the causes and communities served.

We, the PEAK Grantmaking community, are issuing this call to action to grantmakers. Take up the Principles of Peak Grantmaking and reach for the ideal and the better-than-best practices that will transform philanthropy and society. Join us in embracing principled practices.

Join our first Principles Webinar: Tying Grantmaking Practices to Foundation Values

Learn more and commit to act here.