Anil Patel. Managing Director, Digital Strategy. GrantBook
Anil Patel is a social innovator, someone who challenges the status quo and is creating change in the sleepy philanthropic industry. After a decade in the philanthropic world, both with funder and fundee experience, Anil saw what wasn’t there- a simpler way to do grants. Infusing tech and strategic thinking into his company, Anil co-founded GrantBook, a social purpose business specializing in the procurement, implementation and management of cloud-based tools for grant makers and their networks.
Can you briefly describe your career path and why you started GrantBook?
I ran a charity for over a decade which required preparing a lot proposals to foundations to fund our programs. At the same time, I was a volunteer on different grant review committees looking at worthy proposals and had to make decisions about what gets funded. Over the decade, I had had written, reviewed or reported on more than 2500 proposals and have seen different grant review criteria and technologies to receive applications. Most grantors and grant seekers felt like there was too much administrative burden in applying to grants and I was interested in solving that part of the problem.
What’s the coolest part about your job and what’s the biggest challenge?
The coolest part of my job is applying the same type of creative principles you’d see in other agency settings to philanthropy. So while the work often requires looking at spreadsheets, it still requires a lot of time and energy to draw out the future of what grant making processes will look like. It’s equal parts creative and tech.
The biggest challenge is that we’re currently bootstrapping. So it’s balancing the pressure of bringing enough work to keep the lights on and delivering high quality projects while freeing up time to do R&D and innovation.
What advice would you give to a job seeker looking for meaningful work?
Be deliberate in your informational interviews and come to the interviews with questions that are important to you. You have to ask good questions and you have to be prepared. Also, it’s important to recognize that you may need to have a lot of informational interviews, not just talk to two or three people. Take what you’ve learned and build it into your next conversation.
What can you identify as the biggest opportunity in your sector right now?
The biggest opportunity is related to collaboration with like minded organizations to help unlock $100 billion dollars in sleepy philanthropic assets that could be mobilized for social good but is currently not. One example would be helping advise the right technologies for wealth management companies working to align their investment strategy with their granting strategies.
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