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A Bittersweet Goodbye to Grantbook

Pearl Leung

Pearl Leung

Digital Marketing Specialist

Since its beginnings 8 years ago, Grantbook has called CSI Annex home. They started off with a single desk on the second floor. Then, their team grew, and they moved into multiple glass offices on the third floor. Soon, they were spilling out into the hallways, so they moved upstairs, into their own, much larger, office on the fourth floor.

Grantbook eventually found themselves needing a larger space, all for themselves. But with the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, they decided to go fully remote.

We couldn’t let them leave without a proper send-off, so we caught up with Rob Fishbook, Director of Operations & Finance, and Nikki Barrett, Managing Director, to look back at the highlights from their time with us.

From CSI’s rituals to quick conversations in the hallways, Grantbook’s growth was interwoven with the CSI community. They’ve found accountants, lawyers, clients, and even new team members through our network!

The value of working in a space with shared values, said Rob, is that you’re starting from the same place.

“[We were] able to find professionals to work with that understand where we’re coming from. That can be invaluable—a lot of professional service firms don’t really have a focus on social purpose. Many focus more on traditional capitalist values, like how we are going to get the most money in the door. Having people who understand [our values] right off the bat is helpful.”

Grantbook team members in a CSI meeting room

Working alongside hundreds of other social innovators is also a plus.

“You know they’re going through the same challenges you are in trying to be a social purpose business in a world that doesn’t support social purpose businesses,” explained Rob. In those moments of self-doubt, there will always be someone there to let you know you’re doing the right things, and you’re doing everything in your power to grow.

And grow they did.

“We went from basically barely breaking even or losing a bit of money, to rapidly getting to the point where we’re making profit, investing in growth, and making a name for ourselves in our business,” said Rob. “Having supports in CSI and not having to worry about space or the little things helped a lot.”

Grantbook’s strong social purpose values made them a perfect fit for the CSI community. In 2013, they became B-corp certified as a way to define them on paper. More recently, Grantbook launched an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Now, all their staff members have the opportunity to own and shape the company they work for.

“As a social purpose business, we want to be doing the right thing,” said Rob. “We’re all stakeholders.”

Grantbook team members

On their last official day at CSI, the building will look very different. CSI Annex likely won’t have returned to the bustling community hub it was pre-COVID-19.

“It’s a bittersweet goodbye,” said Rob.

But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are ways to stay connected while physically apart. Grantbook plans to stay active in the CSI community, and they hope the friends they’ve made here will also stay in touch.

“Keep chatting with us,” Rob said. “Keep helping us define our values and how we want to work. We get inspiration from the great work, and it helps us define how we want to move forward.”

“We still love co-working spaces and hubs that bring together like-minded world-changers, and hope to find space in a vibrant community or to encourage and create that type of community ourselves,” added Nikki. “While COVID-19 has shown us just how productive we can be from home (or anywhere), Grantbookers knew and understood that already. What it has revealed is how essential time in-person is to relationships and cohesion. We are missing that and can’t wait to be able to map out new ways of coming back together.”

Grantbook has been a valuable part of the CSI community for years, and will be joining an impressive group of CSI alumni. We are so sad to see them go, but we’re thankful for the time we’ve been able to spend with them and will always support their continuing impact!

Grantbook is a technology consultancy helping grantmakers around the world plan, select, implement, and optimize their philanthropy tech. You can learn more about what they do and their impact here.

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