Careers in Philanthropy

How many grantmaking jobs are available?

The number of jobs available in the grantmaking field is limited. The field is small and turnover is light. Although there are more than 1,300 grantmaking organizations in Minnesota, approximately 80 percent of these organizations have no paid staff. Paid grantmaking jobs are heavily concentrated in corporations and larger foundations.

What types of jobs are available in the grantmaking field?

Although titles and duties vary from organization to organization, most grantmaking jobs fall into these main categories:

  • Program Officer
    Responsible for reviewing grant applications and making recommendations. This work includes reading and evaluating proposals; visiting with prospective grantees; and writing reports for the board. In larger foundations, program officers will often handle proposals for one or a few subject areas, such as education or the arts.
  • Community Affairs
    In some corporations, the people responsible for the company's grantmaking activities are part of a community affairs department. Community affairs personnel often have additional duties beyond grantmaking, such as public relations or communications.
  • Grants Manager/Administrator
    Responsible for the recordkeeping and administrative details of an organization's grantmaking process. This includes fulfilling requests for policies, guidelines and applications; tracking grant proposals through the review process; and handling correspondence with grant applicants.
  • Development/Donor Services Officer
    Community and other public foundations often have development personnel who are responsible for raising new funds for the foundation.
  • Consultant
    Foundations will sometimes contract with consultants to help them with some of their grantmaking tasks, both on a short- and long-term basis.

What are the pros and cons of grantmaking work?

  • Pros
    Grantmaking can offer an opportunity to do "socially important" work, meet a broad range of people, use a variety of skills, and be intellectually challenged. Work with foundations can also be fairly stable and recession-proof.
  • Cons
    Grantmaking is one step removed from actually solving problems, can require long hours, and can be emotionally wearing.

What resources are available to aid my job search?

  • The MCF Jobs Board offers an online listing of current job openings in Minnesota's grantmaking field, and has links to other online jobs pages. The page is updated regularly.
  • National resources on grantmaking staff include "The Foundation Directory" and "The Foundation Directory Part 2," available from The Foundation Center.
  • For staffing information on corporate foundations and giving programs, consult the "National Directory of Corporate Giving" and "Corporate Foundation Profiles" (both by The Foundation Center), "Corporate 500: A Directory of Corporate Philanthropy" (Public Management Institute), and "Corporate Giving Directory" (Taft Group).
  • Job listings can sometimes be found in the Chronicle of Philanthropy and The NonProfit Times.
  • The Center for Nonprofit Management at the University of St. Thomas offers a periodic course on nonprofit careers, called "Explore Working for a Nonprofit or Philanthropic Organization." The course includes information on careers in philanthropy. For more information, visit
  • Many of these resources can be found at public libraries and at Minnesota's Foundation Center Cooperating Collections.