Introduction & All Ears Mode

It was wonderful to be welcomed to the GrantCraft community last month by my brilliant and dynamic predecessor, Jen Bokoff! As I step into this new role, I am reminded of what I love about working at Candid: great people, meaningful work, and the opportunity to serve in a variety of intellectually challenging roles.

I started my career with Candid (and initially at Foundation Center) as a librarian providing sustainability and funding research services and then served as regional director overseeing capacity building and outreach in the Western U.S. region. These roles involved a heavy dose of knowledge sharing with both grantseekers and grantmakers looking to gain insight about the funding ecosystems. Due to the opaque way in which many funders operate, I observed a lot of inefficiencies in the process of both practitioners and funders seeking support. This set the stage for GlassPockets, an initiative to champion greater philanthropic transparency, which I was thrilled to establish inside Foundation Center nine years ago and which I continue to lead today.

At GlassPockets foundations can assess how transparent their websites are, learn the benefits of transparency, get advice from peers, and chart a journey toward openness. Working alongside Jen, we developed two GrantCraft guides (read more about them below) which are part of the #OpenForGood campaign to encourage foundations to openly share their learnings from research and evaluations.

I’ve always been a fan of GrantCraft and working on the two guides has only deepened my appreciation. By opening up peer experiences, challenges, and successes, we’ve seen that despite its reputation for opacity, philanthropy is capable of creating a culture of learning built on peer knowledge exchange. I look forward to building on this great tradition of honing our grantmaking practice through openness and a willingness to grapple with tough questions.

Thanks to Jen’s leadership, it’s an exciting time for GrantCraft right now. With our newest guide, Deciding Together, and a series of case studies on improving capacity of grantees, we’re staying tune to the growing dialogue on shifting power and advancing racial equity. Given my own family’s Mexican immigrant roots, exploring how to improve philanthropy’s record on diversity, racial equity, and inclusion is something about which I’m both personally and professionally passionate. I believe in the power of transparency and participatory grantmaking to mitigate inequities by providing onramps for community engagement. Because this work is so timely, I know that much of my early days in this GrantCraft role will be spent continuing to explore new case examples of trial, error, and triumph in this work—so let me know if you have such stories to share.

I’ve heard great things about the energy and responsiveness of our GrantCraft audience. You all have a great reputation for advising and inspiring our work! I’m especially interested in listening to what you have to say to inform our new direction. Please reach out if you are interested in being part of the stakeholder interviews I’m in the process of conducting or send me an email with your ideas for GrantCraft.

Along these lines, thanks to the great talent, data, and knowledge fusion that is the coming together of GuideStar and Foundation Center as Candid, it’s very exciting to be stepping into the role at this particular time. All of us at Candid are now in listening mode as we embark on our 2030 strategic planning process. We know you’re pressed for time, so to make it easy you can complete our short 2030 planning survey here.

We are in all ears mode! So, one way or another, please make your thoughts and wishes known.

With gratitude and anticipation,
Janet

This letter originally appeared in GrantCraft's newsletter. To stay updated with our newsletter and special alerts, sign up here.