Transition Announcement + June Newsletter

For the past six years, I’ve been proud to lead GrantCraft. It has been an honor to build this growing and global community, which has personally been an amazing source of learning, inspiration, and friendship. Now, GrantCraft will continue to blossom under the leadership of my brilliant Candid colleague Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives, as I transition into a new role at Candid.

When I began this journey, GrantCraft already had a library of 20 guides and numerous other related resources since its start at Ford Foundation. Taking over leadership of a program with such existing clout, depth, and reach was both terrifying and gratifying. In six years, we’ve added hundreds of guest blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, leadership series papers, and guides to our library. We’ve led workshops at more than 80 sector conferences and meetings, and increased our Twitter following more than 1000%. We’ve published groundbreaking content on participatory grantmaking, capacity building, transparency, indigenous funding, sector trends, grantmaker communications, equity, advocacy collaboratives, power dynamics, and more. And we engaged 102,597 unique users in the last year through our website alone.

These numbers and accomplishments certainly speak to our level of activity, but what about impact? Hearing about how a case study on GrantCraft inspired peer connection and conversation about multi-year grantmaking is impact. Seeing ‘aha’ moments in a workshop about power dynamics is impact. Watching funders openly learn from the dynamic grantmaking process of a sex workers’ participatory fund in The Netherlands is impact. There are myriad other examples of how GrantCraft is advancing learning and strategy for philanthropy; that’s dynamic impact.

I’ve appreciated being able to experiment with new ideas, collaborate with Candid colleagues to bring a “GrantCraft” lens to our broader work, meet talented leaders working on critical issues around the world, and challenge the field of philanthropy to move forward by learning from one another’s efforts. I’ve personally loved growing my research, writing, speaking, and now-Cirque de Soleil-level juggling skills. Below, you’ll see some of my favorite resources we’ve launched in the last several years, and an insight shared in each. I’m eager to watch the GrantCraft work grow and evolve to meet the sector’s needs as I pass the torch to Janet, and I know her experience leading GlassPockets and as a visionary in the field will bring invaluable perspective.

Let’s stay connected through Twitter, LinkedIn, email, and even in person if you’re in Chicago (yes, I moved!). And, you can reach the GrantCraft team any time at info@grantcraft.org.

With gratitude,

Jen

  • From the Blog: Learning from a Fellow Funder
    • I love self-awareness and open-minded learning! And this guest blog has it: “Like many foundations, we operate in our own silo, and many of our assumptions are well-ingrained.  But hearing about the experiences of a sister fund—really listening to their story—forced many of my board members to question how we operate and think about how we could work smarter.”
  • Content Series: Participatory Grantmaking
    • I’m calling this my “capstone” project. It was an honor to document and spotlight a time-tested, people-centered approach to grantmaking that actually shifts power. This project was by far the most nuanced body of research I’ve collaborated on, and I believe that grantmakers have a lot to learn from their peers who let community expertise drive funding decisions. Even for funders not taking this approach, the videos, blogs, mechanics, and guide can provoke important conversations for boards and staff to build into their work.
  • Video: 60 seconds with Amy Freedan: What funders should know about working with indigenous peoples
    • What I remember most from filming this video with Amy was how creatively and thoughtfully she framed funding opportunities. The example of funding a video game for cultural preservation is genius, and an important reminder that effective funding means not making snap judgements about “what we do and don’t fund.”
  • Podcast: Shared Understanding Internally for Greater Clarity Externally
    • Oak Foundation funds multi-year capacity-building grants and encourages the grantee to select their own consultant...yes and yes! Podcasts like this let you hear directly from a funder about how they think about their practices. While it’s only a snippet of a more nuanced process, this clip gave me at least five ideas for what I can do in my own work. What will it spark for you?
  • Case Study: Advancing Racial Equity Through Capacity Building
    • We need to apply a racial equity lens to all our work in philanthropy. This case study breaks down how one foundation tied this lens into their leadership development work with grantees. Capacity to do this work is often hard to find, but funders can support making it a priority by investing in the talent of grantees the work with.
  • Infographic: Flexible Funding
    • Flexible funding / core support / general operating support….call it what you will, but I’m convinced that funders need to give it, and give a lot of it. Print and hang up this graphic as a reminder, or at the very least use it to spark a conversation with your team. We initially developed this as a related resource to research on women’s economic development in Burundi, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo, as it was a core theme we heard over and over in interviews. But, it’s also the most recurring theme that I’ve heard in my time leading GrantCraft.

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