Successful Structures: Rethinking the Role of Grants Management -- Case Studies

In our exploration of successful structures, we studied organizations of different sizes, types, missions, and cultures. We identified a set of common practices supported by certain organizational characteristics and behaviors that, over time, are building successful structures. These characteristics and behaviors boil down to five essential guidelines for realizing a successful grantmaking structure designed to integrate the “how” of grantmaking with foundation strategy and impact.

Integrating grants management with strategy requires (and goes along with) organizational change. In other words, the shift is bigger than simply adding a new position or responding to an edict from above; cultural and organizational change is also involved for new systems and practices to stick. Often, staff point to a catalyst that motivates their organization to reconsider its practices and assumptions: growth, leadership change, a wake-up call from grantee feedback, or even a new grantmaking system can spark reflection and change.

Publication date: 2017

Jessica Bearman


Bearman Consulting

JESSICA BEARMAN (Bearman Consulting) works with foundations and other mission-based organizations, focusing on organization development, facilitation, planning, and project R&D to help them become more intentional, effective, and responsive to communities. 

Jessica has been the lead consultant to PEAK Grantmaking’s Project Streamline since its inception, helping grantmakers to understand and minimize the burden of their application and reporting practices.Prior to her work in philanthropy, Jessica spent nine years in the nonprofit sector, where she experienced plenty of mystifying requirements. She has a Masters in Organization Development from American University/National Training Laboratory. Jessica loves living on an organic farm in Idaho with her husband, two wild boys, forty philosophical chickens, and thousands of industrious bees.

Elizabeth Myrick


Elizabeth Myrick + Associates

Elizabeth Myrick is an independent consultant with nearly 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Her work focuses on leadership and organizational strategy.

Grants Management Professional Competency Model

Cross-Cutting Competencies

  • Ethics, Integrity, and Accountability: Act with integrity and accountability.
  • Staff and Volunteer Development: Build the capacity of staff and volunteers to be successful in their grantmaking role.
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Framing Document
Small But Mighty: Exercising Out-Sized Influence
A case story from the Hill-Snowdon Foundation. You must register to access.
Grants Management at the Intersection of Optimism and Impact
A case story from the Bush Foundation. You must register to access.
Using Grants Management to Amplify Organizational Impact
A case story from the Blue Shield of California Foundation. You must register to access.
Grants Management at the Intersection of Culture and Impact
A case story from AARP Foundation. You must register to access.