Ham Suenghataiphorn

5 karmaJoined


Source: My own experience of interning in one of the philanthropy foundations

TL;DR: I would emphasize more regarding culture fit, and group other points of yours in newly classified buckets.

My opening remarks

Indeed, your example of Open Philanthropy was excellent, as the model of operations is based on cost-effective analysis. Therefore, generalist and research skills complement each other as you could find more 'factors' in costs and benefits based on what you've already known. However, this draws one key weakness of your grantmaking skills model. What if cost-effectiveness isn't what the foundation seeks? For example, if they seek global collaboration, will they tend to fund organizations that are closely aligned with a willingness to collaborate globally, even though it may not be the most cost-effective? (My personal experience is that local organizations are less costly than regional organizations, and suppose we can expect the same benefit, cost-effectiveness analysis should lean towards funding the local organizations)

This is based on an already well-known organization, but if you are a newly established foundation then it might be different from my experience.

My proposal would rearrange some of your ideas into the following buckets

1) Culture fit (Do you fit with the organization's view of value)

I still believe this is an important issue to consider if you want to work in grantmaking.  Grantmakers usually have long tenures and those who aren't fit quickly moved out of the organization quickly.

2) Reasoning skills

I would rather combine the "theory of change" and "bird's eye view" into this bucket, as what would you be doing is to argue, based on what you have, if this grant would be beneficial to mankind or the organization.  Consulting, researching, or managerial skills would enhance this bucket as they are trained to argue with reasoning. You may not need to know the details, as the information is available enough for you to dissect. However, which information will you be using to argue your case would far more be necessary than how you obtained it in the first place.

Other kinds of equivalent careers that may create transferable skills may include corporate social responsibility jobs (where you get to fund using corporate money) and successful grant writers (where you know which word would hit up more funding). Beyond that, I would rather ask for more clarification of what is your idea of 'generalist' skills in your own critique.

3)Networking skills

I would put this skillset below the above, as it depends if you already have strong reasoning skills, networking may not play a major role here. This is different than if you were the grant seeker or if you are applying into grantmaking, networking will give you the 'launchpad' to be considered from the grantmaker side. Schools, classes, events, and your degree would also fit in here.

My reasoning for downgrading the networking skill is that if your organization has a track record of funding, your previous pipeline of recipients would gladly provide you the opportunity (sometimes, overwhelming) to talk about their interesting projects.

One of the reasons that networking skills might be useful is if you are funding new ventures. In that case, you might need to scout additional people for your work and thus, networking would play a major role in that.

My Closing Remarks

As I argue, I would rather reclassify your skills model as I illustrated above. Beyond that, I agree that grantmaking is a rather great opportunity in a later stage of your work. The only issue is that grantmaking is a specific skill set and unless you are really passionate about not owning but judging other works and being ready to reject hundreds of proposals, I suggest that a lot of consideration should be taken into account before pursuing this career.

P.S.: This is my first post and I will be extremely grateful if folks could discuss my thoughts in the future.