For Jobseekers: Once You Get the Job

Publication date: 
April, 2014

Once you start your position in philanthropy, you'll soon see that this is a field that requires continuous professional development and education. There are numerous resources that we've noted throughout this section of the website that you may find useful as you navigate this new terrain.

To jumpstart that process, read this list of the "Ten Things I Always Tell a New Grantmaker" from Joyce White, Executive Director of Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

If a workshop for new grantmakers or new trustees is being held in your area, make sure to sign up for it! Beginning workshops are offered by regional associations, the Council on Foundations, and other philanthropic organizations. They are a great way to ground yourself in the basics and you’ll meet other new funders.

No one grows up to be a grantmaker—everyone has been on the same steep learning curve. This shared experience makes every grantmaker an active member of a robust learning community.

Established grantmakers are often willing to mentor new grantmakers. Find a mentor through a regional association or by networking with other funders. Don’t hesitate to ask.

Attend as many educational programs as you can. A program might be on an issue outside your funding area, but it’s a good time to meet other grantmakers and often there is something you learn that applies to your work.

If you’re charged with record keeping, you don’t have to figure out grants management on your own. Regardless of your size or your needs, there are local, regional, and national resources for you to tap.

Nervous about your first site visit? Try to find another funder who will let you “shadow them.” A site visit is more effective if both the funder and the nonprofit are prepared. Nonprofits are happy to see more than one funder on a site visit.

Philanthropy is a field of ideas. Many of those ideas are shared on websites that encourage robust discussions about best practices, effectiveness, current issues in philanthropy, and even the definition of philanthropy. Try reading a few until you find those that resonate with your work and learning interests.

Grantmaking is an art. There are best practices, experts, resources, and more information than you can absorb in a lifetime—and you want to base your work on core knowledge. But the best learning comes with practice and time.

Remember that our nonprofit partners are half of the philanthropic equation. Without a thriving nonprofit community, many of us would be out of jobs.

Get out of town! There are many opportunities for you to expand your knowledge and your network by attending a regional or national conference. You’ll find commonalities with funders from around the country.

Source: "Ten Things I Always Tell a New Grantmaker,"

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