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Maximizing Impact: The Dos and Don'ts of Grantmaking
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For funders, the challenges of grantmaking lie in defining the “what, when, who, why, and how” components that will inform the success and impact of the grantmaking process. Grantmakers need to adopt a smart strategy to guide giving initiatives while providing a simple yet effective process for grant seekers that clearly defines their mission, goals, and expectations. With proper planning, you can develop a process that considers the needs of grant seekers but ultimately aligns with your goals for each phase of the grantmaking cycle. Here are a few dos and don’ts to consider that can help you develop and streamline your grantmaking process and ultimately maximize your impact.
Don’t Be Vague; Do Be Transparent: Clearly define the fundamentals of your organization, such as your mission, your mission goals, and how you align with the community or organizations you serve. Providing these details will inform how you create your proposal guidelines, application materials, and eligibility requirements, which will guide and attract the right grant seekers that fit your mission. Vague mission statements, goals, and guidelines may leave room for interpretation, misinform applicants, and result in weak proposals and grantee prospects.
Don’t Complicate the Process, Do Make It Simple: Creating a user-friendly application and submission process for potential grantees will save them time and allow you to collect only the most important data needed for decision-making. Utilizing dedicated and reliable grant management software will also help to streamline and simplify application questions, rule out ineligible applicants and pre-qualify potential grantees quickly, and create user-friendly document uploads and downloads for the applicant and reviewer. Steer clear of antiquated submission portals that don’t utilize the latest technology or provide flexibility in creating and managing grant applications. This will create trouble spots for applicants in the submission process and make the process more cumbersome and unnecessarily tedious.
Don’t Skimp on Allowable Costs; Do Budget for All Possible Costs: Budget your funding to cover administrative components of the grantmaking process, such as data collection, technical assistance, program evaluation, reporting, and progress tracking. Providing separate funding to your grantees for these services will allow them to efficiently carry out grant program activities and utilize these tools to measure and track program outcomes, allowing you to properly measure and understand the level of your impact.
Don’t Ignore; Do Engage: During the grant period, don’t assume the grantee has all the tools and resources needed to meet your expectations. Most grant recipients may not have experience with reporting and tracking outcomes and will need some guided support from your team. Instead of ignoring the pain points and hurdles some grantees may experience over the grant cycle, get involved and engage the grantee. Be more of a collaborative partner who will learn the grantee's needs and provide the support and guidance needed to help them succeed and meet expected milestones during the grant period. Schedule regular check-in meetings with the grantee and actively listen to their needs to learn more about the current impact of the funding and how it can be better utilized.
Following a clear strategy to build out your grantmaking process requires dedicated time and attention to detail. Still, it is a key ingredient to the overall success of your funding initiatives, bringing you a step closer to understanding how you can further maximize the impact of your dollars. In addition, grantmakers and their grantees will also benefit from a more efficient process that will inform and improve the overall experience of the grantmaking cycle.