Member Voices Calling for Collaboration

All of these lessons learned are things I now find myself sharing with my PEAK Grantmaking colleagues as they move through similar changes.

Just over 15 years ago, I was in the right place at the right time and stepped into my position at the Turner Foundation and never looked back.  I would have never pictured myself 15 years ago as someone who would have such a passion about the environment and my ecological footprint. I continue to embrace the foundation and all that it represents. I am very fortunate that we are a small organization and my opinion is valued along with my expertise to influence decision making and processes.

In 2007, I attended my first Grants Managers Network’s Conference in San Francisco, CA and have continued to attend through the years. I always walk away with numerous ideas on how to improve my job as well as connections with colleagues who are willing to support me as I try to implement changes.

During an earlier conference I attended a session on “Going Paperless” and was able to implement the process within 6 months of returning back to my office in Atlanta. Shortly after going virtually paperless, we condensed our grant file folders from 75-100 pages down to 4 pages. My coworkers and I created a grant routing sheet that streamlined the process from the invitation stage until the mailing of the award check. As I evaluated the final routing sheet, which was a simple checklist tool, it forced me to look at all steps of our process. After the process of creating the grant routing sheet, I was able to walk away with a complete understanding of the needs of my program officers. The extent of these changes were not significant but they were efficient.

Just over five years ago, I decided we needed to join the cloud.  It was during my attendance at the 2011 annual GMN Conference and after a variety of discussions with colleagues, I realized many of my concerns about my data being hacked were unwarranted. The Foundations going online process was something that I managed from start to finish. I evaluated our technology options and implementation schedules as well as all the necessary training.  All the lessons learned during the process are things I now find myself sharing with my colleagues as they move through similar changes.

As the new Chair of the Southeast Region, I find that all the chairs are continually pushing our membership to engage and find the value in linking together for collaborations. We recognize that members are at different stages of their careers and that they often play multiple roles within their organizations. For me, utilizing the PEAK Grantmaking knowledge base and my PEAK Grantmaking colleagues has resulted in efficiencies in my work that afford me the opportunity to do more, and I look forward to further development of professional standards that we can all take advantage of.


Candy Champion has been the Grants Manager at the Turner Foundation, Inc. for over fifteen years. Her role at the foundation is to ensure the highest integrity of the data in her GIFTS Online database, and to help manage the grantmaking cycle from start to finish. From receiving grant applications, all the way to mailing reward checks, she is involved in almost every step of the giving process.