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PEAK Grantmaking

Career-advancing Steps for Grants Management Pros

We are listening, and we know you’re facing challenges with career advancement, organization planning, and talent recruitment and development – especially while keeping up with all there is to do in your day-to-day. In addition to the professional development opportunities we offer at PEAK, there are things you can do right now to better realize your worth, restructure your office, and recruit for success.
Demonstrate your market value

Your role in achieving philanthropic impact is critical, but you can’t promote yourself if you don’t know your market value. In any profession, market value is determined by a combination of experience and expertise; by knowing your value, you gain leverage in negotiating salary increases and requesting promotions.

  1. Benchmark your salary. Access the PEAK Grantmaking Salary Report to see how your compensation level measures in the current market for your grants management role, foundation size and type, region, and metropolitan area. Our 2020 edition is coming soon!
  2. Benchmark your job description. Review your organizational staff listing: Are there specific titles or language used to distinguish levels of responsibility within a role? For example, you may be carrying out duties of a “specialist” or “manager” even though your current title is Grants and Programs Assistant. Citing the established nomenclature of your organization is a good way to make the case for a title change.

Keep in mind: Title conventions may not give you all the information you need, but you can also use the Grants Management Professional Competency Model to evaluate and compare your job description with what the profession has established as the standards for knowledge, skill, and abilities.

  1. Evaluate the less-tangible. While competency in your role is key to your professional success, so too are qualities like a positive attitude, trustworthiness, commitment, and values that align with your organization’s. Identify your less-tangible (but equally valuable) attributes and prepare to articulate how they benefit the team, organization, and mission.
  2. Bring the receipts. Use your previous performance evaluations to tie your record of achievement directly to organizational goals. A high-performing employee is always harder to replace than a low-performing one.
  3. Ask your peers. PEAK Grantmaking has perhaps the most knowledgeable and supportive membership network in the field. (Though we are a bit biased!) Reach out to a colleague in our CONNECT online community to ask them about their career journey and solicit their advice.
Structuring a department: From one to many

Yes: When we talk about structure, we are talking about all the processes and activities involved in grants management. In that sense, structuring a new department or reorganizing an existing one presents many challenges – but it’s far from impossible.

When you think about structure, ask yourself and your team these questions:

  1. What’s my role? What’s our role?
  2. What’s the best way to execute the responsibilities of those roles?
  3. What activities must we perform, and what can we outsource?
  4. How will we engage other employees or departments for projects and task forces?

The Grants Management Professional Competency Model charts all the functions needed to ensure successful grants management. These could be performed by a team of people in one department, a department of one, or cross-departmentally using shared responsibilities. Referring to the Model, determine what works best in your organization.

For a one-person grants management operation, maintaining strong bonds with other departments is a must – as is a diverse external network of grants management professionals. Though the position can be overwhelming, working as the grants manager allows you the opportunity to put your stamp on what you do, and build a structure to best suit the goals of your organization and grantees.

Those who work in larger organizations can take inventory of the work being done within the department, and identify tasks or responsibility areas that another department could take over. One example might be contract review: If you have a legal department or resource, why not see if that piece of the grantmaking cycle could go to them? This allows the grantmaking department to refocus efforts on core activities like building equity into the application process.

Develop competency-based job descriptions

Competency-based job descriptions are meant to provide hiring managers with measurable evidence that someone is, or is capable of, fulfilling the requirements of a given role. Competency-based hiring can also ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds receive consideration, regardless of formal experience or other factors.

A good place to start when revising or creating these job descriptions is the Grants Management Professional Competency Model, which details the competencies needed by grantmaking professionals working in various roles and types of organizations. Determine which apply to the job you are evaluating, keeping in mind that not all grants managers perform all the functions involved, and may work with a team to manage the process in parts.

Our team is hard at work developing tools and resources to aid in your efforts to turn challenges into opportunities, but we need your continued input. Share your challenges and victories in our CONNECT community to get feedback from your peers, and reach out to me directly – I’d love to hear how PEAK Grantmaking can support you in your career!