Most people agree that the traditional grant application process has been cumbersome and resource intensive for both grantmakers and the
nonprofits seeking funds. Fortunately, based on self-awareness gained through honest and transparent conversations with grantees, many funders are rethinking their grant processes.
Important initiatives like Project Streamline from Grants Managers Network (GMN) are providing further guidance and a framework of simple steps to make the grant process easier for everyone. It’s rewarding to see the many changes taking place in an effort to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the flow of grant funds.
An exciting new initiative led by GuideStar, Technology Affinity Group’s Simplify Initiative, and most online grants management software vendors is providing yet another opportunity to improve the grant process. Known as GuideStar for Grant Applications, it allows nonprofits to use data from their GuideStar profiles to automatically populate online application forms. Key organizational information such as mission statement, financial data, and board of director’s roster will automatically flow into the grant application, eliminating redundant data entry for the grantseeker. Grant writers can instead spend their limited and valuable time focusing on the details of their specific requests to each funder.
Several steps are necessary for GuideStar for Grant Applications to have impact on the sector:
~Nonprofits must take initiative to update their GuideStar profiles and be as transparent as possible with data about their organizations. This data is available to the public on the GuideStar website and also feeds into other important initiatives such as AmazonSmile and Network for Good. To take advantage of these initiatives, thorough profiles should be a best practice for all nonprofits as part of their overall fundraising strategy.
~Funders must agree to accept data from GuideStar profiles as a means of populating their grant applications. This may require changes to grant application procedures and a willingness to accept some information in a format that is different from historical processes.
~Grants management software vendors must incorporate GuideStar for Grant Applications technology into their solutions and work with their grantmaking clients to update the clients’ online application forms appropriately.
It’s not realistic to think that GuideStar for Grant Applications will completely eliminate the need for a nonprofit to ever write another custom grant application. But it is very realistic to believe that this program can provide nonprofits with a significant jumpstart on a grant application and allow them to focus their grantwriting efforts on the most important components of their proposals. This will result in better proposals for funders to review and will save nonprofits valuable time.
When you think about the hours wasted by nonprofits on duplicative and inefficient grant application tasks—and multiply those hours across the entire nonprofit sector—I think we can all agree that support of this initiative is worth the effort.
Let’s help our nonprofits focus time on their critical missions rather than busywork.