April 21, 2009

What It Takes

Today has been one of those insanely busy days that are only possible with chocolate and adrenalin. I'm past tired and it's late, but I can't resist sharing a conversation that I had at the beginning of the day with a grassroots grantmaking colleague.

We were catching up, talking about how her work was going and then here it came - the most thoughtful description I have ever heard of the the "right person" to manage a grassroots grantmaking program. She was talking about the person that her foundation hired to do the day to day management of their grassroots grantmaking program. She said that this person had not been the conventional choice for the position, but that she had proved to be the ideal choice. She then began to list the qualities that made this person so ideally suited to this work.

If you're thinking about staffing a grassroots grantmaking program - and we know that the right staffing is perhaps the most critical choice in the this highly relational type of grantmaking - pay attention. Courtesy of my anonymous colleague, here's who you are looking for:

The best investment you can make in your grassroots grantmaking program is finding someone who:
  • Is as comfortable around a dining room table as they are around a board room table.
  • Loves people - not just the idea of people - but the reality of people.
  • Respects rules and structure, but isn't in awe of (or in service to) rules and structure.
  • Is warm and genuine, but can hold people accountable and be firm.
  • Has the ability to be in the moment but not lose the big picture.
  • Can spot roadblocks and enjoys finding ways to bust through or navigate around them.
  • Is fun.
Do you know this person? If so, you know someone who is uniquely suited to the work of grassroots grantmaking. Go get them! You won't be sorry.

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