Brave New World | PEAK Insight Journal
Issue 1

Brave New World

Welcome to the BRAVE NEW WORLD of grantmaking and a new collection of insights about the foundations and future of philanthropy. Our objective is to share key knowledge of grants professionals gained through years of experience in grants management; explore the trends and practices of modern grantmaking; and drive forward thinking and progress that will shape new approaches to delivering mission-critical funding and support services. Grants managers are critical players at every stage of grantmaking. We are the process keepers, data collectors, content integrators, report producers, and operational experts who make up the constant hum of activity at the core of philanthropic giving.

The editorial team of GMNsight—all volunteers, and members of the Grants Managers Network—represent just a fraction of the knowledge, talent, and dedication of GMN’s nearly 2,000 members. While this journal is a product of the Grants Managers Network and practitioners working in grants management, we hope the insight and outlook shared here will find reach beyond this area.

To that aim, we encourage you to share these articles with your colleagues and share your feedback with us; if you are working on, wondering about, or waiting to discuss important issues, we want to help drive those conversations with content in future editions of GMNsight.

For this first edition, we took inspiration from the recent GMN annual conference and focused on the brave new world of grantmaking. Merging evolving perspectives on purpose with innovations in grantmaking processes, including incredible developments like cloud technology and Big Data, we hoped to establish a common understanding of where grants management is right now. In future editions, we will expand on this shared concept with content that is both tactical and practical, but also provocative and compelling. Thank you for joining us at the beginning of this journey. We look forward to advancing grantmaking together.

 

New Roles for Grants Managers

New Roles for Grants Managers

Grants management takes many different shapes within different organizations, and can change over time within the same organization in response to evolving practices and procedures, administration, technology, and developments in the field of philanthropy. This variety of process and purpose means that it is challenging to assign an all-encompassing definition of grants management. Michelle Greanias, executive director of the Grants Managers Network, summed up the role in her Spring 2009 article in the GMN Examiner, “So What Is Grants Management Anyway?” “Grants managers are the experts on how grants are made, dealing with the policies, procedures, and operations behind receiving,
Disruptive Technology, Data, and the Future of Philanthropy

Disruptive Technology, Data, and the Future of Philanthropy

For most grants managers, new technologies have been a constant across their working lives—so much so that managing disruptive technologies has become part of the routine background noise of their work. We have seen grantmaking processes transformed by innovative software and technology platforms: communication with grantees and foundation staff are fundamentally altered and analytical approaches are applied to our work in new ways. These changes suggest a future for philanthropy that is smarter, faster, and more effective than ever before, with grants managers serving as critical catalysts. We tend to think of disruptive technology as being, well, disruptive. But such
Looking at Clouds from Many Sides

Looking at Clouds from Many Sides

I run a nonprofit called Aspiration that helps foundations and nonprofits use technology more effectively. Nonprofits ask questions about the cloud all the time: What is the cloud? Should we move to the cloud? Is the cloud right for us? Which is the best cloud platform? While the answers to such questions depend on many factors the central message we have to share with organizations is that the issue is not so much when and whether to move to the cloud, but how. Having not only a plan, but also a backup plan, are essential aspects of intentional migration. I
Grantmaking  in the Cloud

Grantmaking in the Cloud

Cloud computing, or cloud technology, is a hot new technology concept, used to describe a number of processes and software products that many of us already use, whether we know it or not. Experts at Idealware, a nonprofit technology advisor, collaborated with NTEN, the nonprofit technology network, to publish a study, the State of the Nonprofit Cloud 2012, to share details on how nonprofits and foundations are using cloud technology. Their findings confirm that, while cloud computing can be a boon to many organizations, it is not a panacea. As one consultant put it, it’s a mistake to think “the
The Case for Using a Social Justice Lens in Grantmaking

The Case for Using a Social Justice Lens in Grantmaking

In the fall of 2011, the conference planning committee of the Grants Managers Network graciously invited me to present at its upcoming annual meeting on a topic of my choosing. I took the opportunity to reflect on emerging trends and practices in organized philanthropy. The growing use of the term social justice—especially among large foundations—caught my attention. Was this instance of ‘old wine in a new bottle’ or something entirely different? Social justice—a new phenomenon? No. As early as 1972, in an internal memo to John H. Knowles, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, one of his officers suggested that