Kyle's Korner: 2017 PEAK Grantmaking Conference Takeaways

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As TechSoup's senior director of global data services, Kyle Reis works on NGOsource's strategic planning and outreach to international funders. He has been involved since the very beginning of NGOsource as an original member of the NGOsource Advisory Council that helped develop the concept.

We are proud to announce the start of Kyle's Korner, a column featuring Kyle's thoughts, garnered from years in the social sector, as they relate to the international grantmaking world. In his debut post, Kyle shares his takeaways from the 2017 PEAK Grantmaking Conference held in Hollywood, California.

This March, I attended the 2017 PEAK Grantmaking Conference in Hollywood, California. PEAK Grantmaking, you might be asking? Never heard of 'em. Well, prior to the conference, PEAK was better known as the Grants Managers Network (GMN). PEAK represents grants managers from private, corporate, community, and family foundations. The name change was a big deal for the organization, a point that was not lost on PEAK's executive director, Michelle Greanias. The conference's opening plenary delivered a series of vignettes from current and former GMN leaders to make the case for the change. Though member opinions ran the gamut, the consensus was that we would all learn to love the new name, just as we love the organization it represents.

A perhaps bigger but less noted change was PEAK's intentional effort to for the first time add individuals to its board from non-grantmaking institutions. This had been talked about for years, and the idea was finally acted upon with the addition of members from three philanthropic "infrastructure" organizations. These were Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, or GEO (Heather Peeler), The Center for Effective Philanthropy (Kevin Bolduc), and Foundation Center (Janet Camarena.) This was a bold move by PEAK, one I believe will strengthen the organization over time as all of these individuals are all solid leaders.

NGOsource had an active presence at the conference, as it has every year since the service went live in 2013. Veteran NGOsource general manager Ken Tsunoda was in attendance along with two relative newbies, Kevin Ryan and LaCheka Phillips. NGOsource's booth had lots of people milling about, and we also held a workshop about the service during the conference. We met up with many of NGOsource's current members and added a few more to the mix.

I've been to many philanthropic conferences (including all twelve of PEAK's), and this is one of the best. This is in large part because grants managers are doers and networkers, and the conference reflects this dynamic. It is a working conference at which one learns hard and soft skills and an event where you can reconnect with old friends while easily meeting new ones. Kudos to the organizers. We look forward to next year's conference in Orlando, Florida.