Living Your Values

Last month, I attended a workshop hosted by PEAK Grantmaking at a meeting of the New York Regional Chapter. The workshop was on values-based grantmaking (learn more about it here) and I was struck by both the message and its implications for the field of philanthropy. The session focused on funder values (whether explicit or implied) and how grantmakers can align their grantmaking practices to “live” those values.

For example, many funders hold “transparency” as a core value. But what if a funder declines to share its grantmaking guidelines on its website? Is that a transparent practice? While an organization may have valid reasons to withhold information, in this case, muddling the grant application process may lead the funder to reassess whether it is operating in accordance with its value of transparency, and whether it needs to either a) shift this practice or b) reconsider this core value in the first place.

In the workshop, we discussed competing values, or areas where there might be tension between certain values—say, the need to maintain transparency vs. confidentiality, or leadership vs. collaboration. The breadth of examples and liveliness of the discussion among my foundation peers reminded me that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to having the “right” values in grantmaking. (Despite PEAK Grantmaking’s top 10 list of most common grantmaker values, there is great variety in how funders interpret these). The real issue arises when those values are not aligned with funders’ practices.

Promoting the connection between values and practices is critical to the advancement of the field, and PEAK Grantmaking has been a key leader in this topic. In fact, PEAK Grantmaking is leading the field in many areas (maximizing impact through effective practices; using data, information, and knowledge to drive strategic decisions; etc.), and I’m proud to be a member. Even more proud, though, to be a member of the Board of Directors, where I get to play a role in steering the organization’s strategies from the onset and watch these come to life. It has been an honor to sit at the table with the staff and directors of PEAK Grantmaking to brainstorm, exchange ideas about our experiences, and develop priorities that will help grow the organization to the next level while strengthening the philanthropic sector.

That’s what serving on the PEAK Grantmaking Board of Directors means to me—a chance to advance philanthropy from a seat beyond my daily job. It means looking with my fellow directors at the future of the field and identifying opportunities for greater impact through improved practices. As such, I am excited to look ahead to how funders will continue to think about their own values and how they will put these into practice to best fulfill their missions, and those of their grantees.

PEAK Grantmaking is excited to announce a call for open nominations to its Board of Directors. It only takes a few minutes to nominate yourself or a colleague! I encourage you to check out the nomination process and timeline, and consider taking your volunteer service to the next level.

By joining our leadership you can continue to shape the vision and direction of this organization that means so much to all our membership.

If you have questions about the process, the qualifications we’re seeking in new board members, or anything else related to the Board of Directors, please feel free to contact me at adriana.jimenez@aspca.org.

Adriana Jimenez

Adriana Jimenez is Director of Grants Management at ASPCA and also serves on the board of directors of PEAK Grantmaking. Follow her on Twitter @ajimeneznyc.