10 Ways to Right-Size Your Application and Reporting Requirements - Exponent Philanthropy
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10 Ways to Right-Size Your Application and Reporting Requirements

When you right-size your application and reporting requirements, you tailor what you ask grantseekers and grantees for when they apply for and report on your grants. This means what you need is proportionate to the grant size, appropriate for the grant type, and reflects any existing relationship with the grantee. 

Right-sizing considers the concept of net grants, or the grant dollars a grantee receives after subtracting the cost it takes to apply for and manage the grant. Does applying for and receiving a grant from your foundation result in a positive net grant for the grantee? 

10 Ways to Right-Size Application and Reporting Requirements

How can you right-size your grant applications and reports while getting the information necessary to make decisions and assess your impact? 

  1. Figure out the information essential for your foundation to make a grant decision and request only that information in your application. Think about how you will use the information. 
  2. Develop different versions of your application tailored to the types of funding you offer, such as program support, general operating support, and capital project funding. 
  3. Set page limits or ranges as part of your grant application to make the scope and depth of information you seek for different sizes and types of grants clear. 
  4. Develop a streamlined application and report form for small grants to ensure the grant is worthwhile. Does applying for a small grant from your foundation result in a positive net grant? 
  5. Test your streamlined applications with existing grantees and ask for feedback. Chances are they will offer ideas you haven’t considered. 
  6. Ask grantseekers to submit applications electronically. Let them link to online information about their organizations, such as mission statements and program descriptions. 
  7. Let grantseekers submit financial information in their original, off-the-shelf formats rather than requiring reformatting. Nonprofits spend a massive amount of time tailoring financial data to the individual needs of different funders. 
  8. Align reporting requirements to the size and type of grant. Instead of asking for a written report, consider inviting key grantees to talk about their projects or organizations over coffee or lunch. 
  9. For renewal grants, make reporting on the previous grant part of the process to apply for subsequent funding. 
  10. Store grantee information in an Excel spreadsheet, database, or grants management system. Then, ask organizations you’ve supported in the past to submit updates only—without resubmitting documents and information they’ve already sent you. 

Check-In With Grantees

Be sure to take stock! After a year, ask if right-sizing has benefited grantseekers and your foundation. Have net grants remained positive and even increased because of your streamlining? Is your foundation making decisions more efficiently? 

Learn how your grantees and applicants feel about your application and reporting requirements with our Grantee and Applicant Perception Survey (GAPS) » 

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