Opening Remarks – 9th Annual Conference

I’m so excited and really honored to welcome you to 9th annual Grants Managers Network conference.  I bet you didn’t wake up this morning expecting to make history, but you have. You are part of the largest gathering of grants managers ever. In the world. In history.

Talk about making connections! You’ve got 675 potential connections surrounding you right now.

In addition to broadening and deepening your professional network and connecting to the knowledge and skill building sessions, I hope you’ll also take time at this conference to step back, take a breath, and appreciate the importance of what we do, of what you do.

And what is it that we do?

Doctors heal. Teachers educate. The answer to “What do grants managers do?” can’t be expressed in a sound bite.  Believe me, I’ve been trying for 20 years.

The work we do—from very basic application processing to the most advanced data visualization and outcomes measurement—makes up the HOW of grantmaking and these practices, this work, is as vital to the success of philanthropy as the strategies behind what gets funded and the decisions about who gets funded.

How you fund grants is what differentiates one funder from another. The “How” expresses your organization values and determines your reputation in the field.  The “How” frames your relationship with your grantseekers and grantees.

Without the experts in the “How”—you—grants can’t get made (we’ll see the truth of this statement throughout the conference as your colleagues back home realize it and the melodic buzzing of the phones begins).

Without you, nonprofits wouldn’t receive the funds they need to achieve their missions, and grantmakers wouldn’t know whether or how they are helping people. And we’re talking about A LOT of help—more than $50B by private, corporate, and community foundations alone. That’s bigger than the budgets of all by two states. That’s the level of investment you make possible.

Did you know that the average number of grants managed by the people in this room is 476. Think about the problems that are being solved and the lives that are being changed by each of those grantees with the resources you provide.

The scope of responsibility and importance of grants management can’t be overstated.

I think so often we get lost in the day to day tasks and think of our work as….

  • Processing proposals
  • Managing data
  • Checking compliance
  • Bugging grantees for overdue reports
  • Putting together board dockets

Yes, it is all of that, and so much more.

Because you make sure that a grant gets made as efficiently, effectively, and correctly as possible, doctors can heal and teachers can educate.

You are making the world a better place.  Never lose sight of that, even when a board meeting is coming up.

Michelle Greanias

Michelle Greanias is executive director of PEAK Grantmaking. Follow her on Twitter @mgreanias.

  • Chad Gorski

    “The ‘how’ expresses your org’s values, reputation, and relationships….” -good way to put it! Thanks, Michelle.