Socialize With Us

To My Future Self: Thoughts on Preparing for Philanthropy Today

Monday, June 3, 2019

Apply for the 2019 New Grantmakers Institute

NCG’s New Grantmakers Institute has been running nearly as long as the organization itself. Learning to be our best selves in the rewarding, and often tricky space of philanthropy, never goes out of style. Our 2019 institute kicks off on September 12th and you can apply today. Space is limited and often sells out.

We asked participants from years past what advice they would offer their future selves, thinking back on their first days in philanthropy. Read what they had to say below.

Pedro Arista, Program Officer, Hirsch & Associates, LLC, Philanthropic Advisors

Make Yourself Heard. Make yourself heard and lots of benefits will follow. If you’re confused, ask questions to gain clarity and make yourself heard. If you’re interested to start something new, share your creative ideas with others. Making yourself heard can lead to new adventures on your journey in philanthropy.

Sarah Grady, Program and Grants Manager, Silver Giving Foundation

Keep an Open Mind: I came into New Grantmakers Institute with, what I thought was an understanding of the grantee perspective. I had just switched professions from working in development at a nonprofit organization to working at a foundation. I didn't understand the grantee perspective at all. Although I had that development experience, which many people in philanthropy lack, I didn't understand the plethora of grantees that I would come across over my 3 years working at a foundation. My experience came from a 5 person development team with the resources to have distinct job functions. That experience didn't expose me to the one person team where the executive director is writing all the grant reports, the nonprofit experiencing staffing problems so they don't have audited financials, or the grantee that doesn't have time to respond to emails because they are also ones out in the field....the list goes on! My advice would be to keep an open mind when thinking about the grantee perspective...some of the best foundation staff are those that work alongside the grantee to make the grant, not the ones that stick to their hard fast rules even though they know the project has potential. 

Sarah Hadassah Negrón, Finance & Grants Coordinator at Levi Strauss Foundation, Levi Strauss & Co.

Make Connections. Reflecting on my NGI experience, I would tell my future self to make as many connections as possible with my peers in the room. Over the past year, I’ve connected one-on-one with several colleagues I met at NGI. I have built very positive friendships and allyships with many of those folks as we’ve shared insights, discussed “pain points,” and informed one another of professional development opportunities in the field. NGI was useful and effective because it gave me the opportunity to learn about philanthropy from my peers and begin building a network/support system that I will continue to use throughout my career.

Nikki West, MPH, Director, HealthCare Education Management, Kaiser Permanente

Be Curious. Don’t get overwhelmed by all there is to learn. Focus on being a curious, caring, engaged listener with your peers and potential grantees - soak in the knowledge and build relationships as it comes.