PEAK Grantmaking regularly features members on our blog to demonstrate the diversity of our association and expand opportunities for connections. Want to be featured? Email Leah Farmer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Meet Claire Smith, Manager, Corporate Responsibility at Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Q. How did you get into grants management?
I’ve always liked geeking out on data, developing policies and procedures, formalizing processes and finding efficiencies so when I heard the David and Lucile Packard foundation was rapidly growing due to being the beneficiary of a major portion of David Packard’s estate after his death in ’96, I knew right away that the grants management position was my calling!
Q. What’s your background (education and work)?
Born and raised in France, I’ve always had a special interest in other cultures and found passion for philanthropy when I moved to Silicon Valley. After college, I was motivated to find a career that would match both my interests and skills; I was fortunate to have worked at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 10 and 8 years respectively before settling into corporate responsibility at Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Q. What’s your favorite part of the grants management job?
Being in the center of it all! Whether it’s private foundation, public charity or Corporate grantmaking, you have a birds-eye view of program officers developing their strategic program guidelines to administering grants to working with technology and data reporting to seeing the impact in the community and around the world.
Q. What frustrates you about your job?
Not having enough time to go in-depth into my clients’ philanthropic initiatives because of time spent on processing and tracking their grants. I recently had to explain to a client why a new grant couldn’t be made because the organization hadn’t turned in their previous grant’s Expenditure Responsibility reports. Getting a hold of the grantee and getting these reports in was a challenge and honestly would have rather spent this time doing a deep-dive into my client’s latest philanthropic endeavor.
Q. What do you wish your colleagues and coworkers knew about what you do?
I have the privilege of sharing my wealth of knowledge and experience with my clients and colleagues as a way of giving back and guide them towards smart and effective grantmaking. Most of my time is spent in conversations with nonprofits, colleagues and advising my clients on how to reach their philanthropic goals.
Q. What do you wish every grants manager knew about their job?
From a compliance perspective, think outside the box and consult your counsel. From a career perspective, be confident, speak out and own your seat at the table. Grants Management is not just a department that sends out grant agreements and checks to nonprofits, it consists of professionals, thought-leaders providing knowledge and encouraging collaboration to ensure successful and impactful grantmaking. The skills and experience you gain working in grants management will provide a wide range of opportunities to achieve your professional success!
Connect with Claire via LinkedIn