5 Best Practices for Improving Grantmaking: A Corporate Funder’s Guide

By Burt Cummings, CEO
Jan 12, 2016 9:05 AM ET

Grantmakers want to make advancements in the issues they care about…but what’s the best way to do it?
What are the philanthropic best practices? How can the process of grantmaking be improved? Empowering change through grants means making it easier for funders and grantees to interact—and technology is the key. There are 5 areas of focus that can help you create best practices for impact:

Focus on the how
Your grantmaking practices are the public expressions of your values. It’s how the world sees you. The more efficient you are,the more resources you can channel to your mission. When you demonstrate this efficiency,you gain the public’s confidence. They see you’re doing good work. Use your data and technology to communicate what it’s done.

In its report, Assessing The How of Grantmaking, Grant Managers Network suggests asking these five questions to shape your practices in this area:

  • Does your grantmaking align with your intentions?  Successful grantmakers use their grants management system to keep abreast of the size, term and types of grants. They track the ratio of successful versus unsuccessful grants to gauge risk. They measure proposals funded versus declined to determine how approachable and easy to work with they are. Data gives you definitive answers to confirm your alignment.
  • Do you have efficient internal practices? It costs money to process grants. Often funders don’t include this calculation to see the true financial impact. Grant management information helps you to see the true cost picture.
  • Do you communicate effectively? Data from your grants management system will help you here. Do you have a high percentage of declined proposals? It might indicate you’re not clear to grantseekers about your mandate and requirements.

Focus on resource flow
Grantmaking is an ecosystem. It can only flourish if resources flow where they need to, with as few barriers as possible. Technology can help you measure the reciprocity of the partnerships you seek to create with grantees. Best practices include creating goals to reduce processing time for grant applications. Even measuring the time it takes to respond to inquiries.

This is information that can be measured and turned into actionable data.

Focus on a better online submission experience
Take a page from the online retail giants and their focus on user experience. Then look at these areas:

  • Do you offer easy account creation?
  • Can applicants preview the application during the process?
  • Can they store and retrieve data to reuse it?
  • Do you make it easy to save progress?
  • Can applicants copy and paste text from documents into your forms?
  • Can they attach files?
  • Do you acknowledge receipt of submissions?

Focus on minimizing requirements
You know the importance of mitigating the cost to process and facilitate grants. Turn that focus outward, as well. Time is money. The amount of it that grantseekers spend on evaluating, replying and reporting is time they can’t devote to their cause. And, isn’t it the cause you want them to advance?

Best practices minimize this resource expenditure for grantees.

Focus on minimizing data use to relieve grantee burden
You’re collecting data from applicants. To the extent that it’s not confidential, can you compile and share it across the sector? Your philanthropic objective is to help. Can you make the information you have portable so grantseekers can use it elsewhere? Best practices foster collaborative relationships with peers by sharing information.

What these best practices all have in common 
Data. It’s the foundation for improvement. It can be converted into intelligence. Best of all, it measures impact. Empowering change needs a measuring stick and Versaic is it. Contact us today to learn more about our grantmaking solutions.