Four ways funders can help grant applicants

2. Figure out what information you really need for grant applications and reports. The authors suggest that grant makers periodically should assess what they are asking applicants for in the application package. Grant makers are encouraged to eliminate redundant questions and to ask only for information that is used in the actual decision-making process.  This makes so much sense, it almost seems like it should not have to be stated! I have often wondered why a funder seems to be asking for the same pieces of information over and over again in an application. Other people have asked me the same question, and to be honest, I don’t know the answer. I agree with the authors, who recommend that grant makers should decide on the specific information they need to select grantees. If additional documents are necessary, they can be requested from grantees after funding decisions have been made.

3. Simplify the application and reporting process for small grants, renewal grants, operating support grants, and repeat grantees. The authors recommend that, rather than using the same application and reporting requirements to meet a variety of scenarios, grant makers should examine these and determine streamlined processes based on the size and type of the grant and the prior relationship the grant seeker might have with the organization. They also say they believe these types of grants have the best potential to be right-sized, even though grant makers must determine what kind of information they need based on the potential risk that a grant might incur.

4. Find ways to filter applications. In other words, the authors recommend that grant makers consider using eligibility quizzes and letters of inquiry to filter out potential applicants who shouldn’t go to the extent of submitting a full application package. The authors also suggest that grant makers compile a list of provisional grantees who then are asked to send organizational and/or additional program material that can used to make final funding decisions.

The document also includes a checklist of questions that applicants can ask themselves before applying for a grant, to determine if it’s worth the time and effort to do so. I’ll discuss this checklist in next month’s column.

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