“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The wisdom of this West African proverb has long inspired me. It explains why PEAK Grantmaking has come so far in its first 25 years, and why we are well poised for our next chapter as an organization, and as a community.
Earlier this week, at our Annual Membership Meeting, we brought the PEAK community together with our board, volunteer leaders, and staff to both look back and lean forward.
At that meeting, we reviewed the past year’s progress (highlighted in our 2020 annual report), PEAK’s “Meeting the Moment” story featuring the heartfelt reflections of our members.
We also kicked off a multi-month celebration of our 25th anniversary milestone, highlighting our “origin story” and the distance we’ve come—in telling the story of grants management, empowering members, and centering equity and community in all we do.
Finally, we looked ahead, sharing plans to carry PEAK forward, drawing on the wisdom we’ve gained—over the past year and the past 25—to envision our future and chart a way there.
When I joined PEAK last August, one of the first pieces of advice from our board was to take the time to listen and reflect. Working closely with my team, I embarked on a listening tour, while also checking the internal pulse on changes needed to best position our strategy, infrastructure, and operations for future success. I’ve met with many stakeholders, hearing from more than 300 of you—board and volunteer leaders past and present, our philanthropic-focused partners, and our members—both in conversation and through our late-2020 membership survey.
Of the many things I learned, these stood out as the clear signals by which to align our direction and priorities:
- The PEAK tent is evolving and expanding: Though still squarely focused on grants management, our community now embraces an array of titles, roles, and focus areas within philanthropy.
- Our Principles for Peak Grantmaking resonate with our member community and as a guide for the field: In PEAK’s next chapter, it will be critical to nourish the Principles, ensuring they stay dynamic, urgent, and at the core of who we are.
- PEAK is unique among philanthropy-supporting organizations; and now more than ever, as we have become even more equity-centered in our operations.
- Our most highly valued resources are as vital as ever: We need to revitalize resources like Grants Management 101, the Grants Management Competency Model, and the CONNECT online community.
- Continue to focus on communications that deliver practical insights and thought leadership—in our Journal, reporting, member stories, and CEO interviews—and amplify them across our channels.
- The online experience is critical: We’ll keep strengthening it with high-quality resources, enhanced convening tools, and models that support greater inclusion and access.
- Be bold in pursuing new growth models, including new customized services to help members adopt equitable grantmaking practices.
What I heard also sparked four key questions that helped guide our staff and board in defining what success looks like for PEAK: How will we know we are making progress? How much does success cost? How do we ensure our plans and projects support PEAK’s capacity and adaptability? And what must we do to structure and document processes, policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities in a way that moves us toward greater continuity?
With those lessons and questions in mind, we first looked inward—to how we’re caring for our people, evaluating and refining our processes, and working with the board to reinforce their effectiveness—and then outward: revisiting our vision, mission, and five-year strategic direction.
I am beyond excited to share the high point of our new plans—and some special surprises—as we turn the page to PEAK’s next chapter. Read on!
President and CEO
What PEAK Stands For
What’s in a name? Everything! We (re)defined what PEAK stands for:
Our “P” is Principles, as the guiding force behind grantmaking practices becoming more equitable. Our “E” is for Equity, which lies behind all that we do and all that we are trying to advance. Our “A” is Advocacy, for the work PEAK does advocating for our people, grants management, and the sector. And finally, our “K” is Knowledge, affirming our dedication to learning and sharing through programs, resources, and insights that support our members in building the skills for both their role and their career.
Refreshed Vision, Mission, and Purpose
Our evolved vision, mission, and purpose (or Theory of Change) statements clearly and boldly convey what we need to be, better supporting both who we have become and where we are going.
Realizing the full potential of philanthropy to drive equity and opportunity.
Transforming philanthropy by elevating the field of grants management and empowering grants professionals to lead the way in operationalizing equity-centered, values-driven grantmaking practices.
We believe in principled grantmaking practices that align funders and nonprofits as equal partners in advancing their respective missions and strategic objectives. Narrowing the power gap and ensuring that funders live their values through their grantmaking practices will result in positive change for the causes and solutions we seek to collectively advance.
An Evolved Visual Identity
To keep PEAK’s visual identity in step with our bold aspirations for philanthropy, and our members role as change leaders for the sector, we’ve transformed our “mark” from triangle to peak—conveying both progress and potential—and refreshed the typography.
A New Strategic Framework
We have identified four anchors by which to define our goals and guide our work in the years ahead.
From Grants Management Professional to Change Agent for Equitable Practices
Our members stand at a critical nexus point within philanthropic institutions, poised to lead change within their organizations and for the field. We will support and empower our expanding network in raising their voices as change-management practitioners to influence shifts in grantmaking practices. We will expand the knowledge base of our members from role-specific to “generalist” skills in philanthropy—with the aims of advancing competency and career development while positioning them for strategic decision-making roles, career advancement, and more.
Emergent Learning Community as Core Philosophy
Our peer networking structure positions us well to create an emergent learning community around our Principles work—shifting from a traditional, linear learning environment toward a more adaptive learning process that is continuously evolving based on the complexity of the issue and the experience of participants. This ensures that we capture lessons learned and new practices to either embed them in current guidance or create new guidance and programs for the community and field.
New Models for Growth and Sustainability
Develop new revenue development models that include expanding organizational memberships in key areas including corporate, community, family, and small- to mid-sized foundations; and ensuring that large-asset institutions are gaining value through membership. This also includes developing a new, customized member-services model that allows us to more deeply engage with members who are ready to embed equitable grantmaking practice changes and/or seek to build their bandwidth to fully embrace the ways that equity can and should be embedded throughout their operations.
Strategic Partnerships Extend Reach and Influence
Engage in strategic partnerships with other nonprofits, funders, and key constituents that extend our reach and influence. This will help accelerate and advance learning, demonstrate thoughtful alignments and collaborative thought leadership, and center our grants community as change leaders for the sector. For years, there has been an aspiration to work more cohesively with other philanthropy-focused organizations, but old nonprofit business models and competition have sometimes hindered our progress. PEAK is on a path to launch a cooperative model with like-minded partners that drops old scripts and co-designs collaborations that will transform philanthropy.
The Celebration Begins
Explore highlights from our first 25 years—and dreams for the next 25—in a new section of the PEAK website featuring videos and stories from our community, an interactive timeline, and tools for contributing to the party.
And there’s much more to come!
- Plan to attend our two keystone community events. On September 14, sit in on a panel discussion on the evolution of grants management as a field, how that has impacted individual career trajectories, and where we go from here. Then join us on December 2 for a closing event centered on celebrating our community.
- Look out for our campaign announcements as we unveil new videos, stories, and other releases across the year.
- Get social with us by following PEAK on Twitter and LinkedIn, and join the conversation using the hashtag #PEAKis25.
- Help us tell the story we all share. Visit our new community Story Center to share your PEAK memories and dreams: We’ve made it easy to record a video “selfie,” tell us your PEAK story, and submit photos or historical documents.