Grants management professionals are strategically positioned to influence a funder’s racial equity and racial justice funding. But in three decades of working in and with foundations, I have consistently seen a pattern where people serving in these roles are excluded from these conversations as a matter of institutional habit. As a result, there is a lack of understanding across the field about how the work of grants management directly relates to advancing racial equity and justice. Even when they are included, the scope of their influence can oftentimes be limited to paperwork, reporting, and only the most technical aspects of the grantmaking process. And yet, they also have the ability to shift what is and isn’t funded, understand what funder pushback might arise, and how grants are understood and reported.
But before I get into how grants managers can impact racial equity and racial justice grantmaking, it’s important to first define these frequently conflated terms and then examine the current racial equity and racial justice landscape.