Weaving Equity Into Grants Management

We all got into philanthropy to make the world a better place.  I do find myself wishing, particularly over the past few years, that there weren’t quite so many aspects of the world that needed improvement. The scope and complexity of the problems we face can be overwhelming and it’s often hard to see how one individual or group, even a professional community as passionate and dedicated as our own, can make a difference. And one of the issues most difficult to tackle is equity, specifically racial equity as was yet again pointed out by the terrifying and heartbreaking events in Charlottesville over the weekend. But I believe that grants managers can and must make advancing equity part of our work and a component of what defines us as experts in grantmaking practices.

I see this as a thread woven through our existing work, rather than something separate plopped on top of it.  I’d like to share with you PEAK Grantmaking’s initial steps to make this a part of our work and plans by:

  1. Identifying and addressing grantmaking practices which perpetuate inequities. We need to explore and understand what practices drive disparities in grantmaking and what advantages some groups over others in securing funding. PEAK Grantmaking is including this as a focus in its effective practices work, starting with demographic data.  We believe that for philanthropy to advance equity in all communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color, it needs to be able to understand the demographics of who’s being served and use that data in decision making.  Look for a report early next year on current approaches to demographic data collection.
  1. Expanding our definition of an expert in grants management to include equity, diversity, and inclusion. This will require having shared definitions and language to help us talk about equity, an understanding of the historical context that has created the world as it is today, insight into where each of us is individually, and tools that helps us act on this increased understanding. To support us in building our understanding, PEAK Grantmaking is expanding the learning tracks at our 2018 Annual Conference to include a new focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion and will make this a critical topic throughout our education programming.
  1. Working to make the profession more diverse. Philanthropy has long acknowledged its lack of diversity.  Our last look at the demographic make-up of the profession was in 2010 so we need to start with getting an accurate picture of the profession today.  Please share your demographic information as we reach out to update our member data this fall and look for us to share that aggregate look at the profession with you.  Also, PEAK Grantmaking is identifying what skills and competencies make a successful grants manager.  We can use that information to target other professions with similar skills and competencies and share that information with grantmakers, allowing them to widen their candidate pools.  There may even be options to reach people in those professions to make them aware of this career as well.

We see these focus areas and initiatives as just the start of how this profession can advance equity. I hope you will share your ideas for how each of us individually, and collectively through this community, can make PEAK Grantmaking’s vision of an equitable world, in which people have the resources and opportunities to thrive, a reality.

 

Michelle Greanias

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

  • Susan Hairston

    Michelle, What an excellent vision, statement and set of action items. The impact and outcome of doggedly pursuing equity will be innovation and more creative solutions. It will require a lot of effort, some discomfort, speaking out but more listening and much needed education but blind spots will be revealed and true opportunities for the extraordinary will come forth.