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Grant Management

4 key stages to launching a call for applications

Lucie Godeau
February 17, 2023 - Reading time: 4min
4 key stages to launching a call for applications

Do you work for a foundation and are always researching best practices? Philanthropic organizations devote a lot of resources to plan and strengthen their CSR strategy. Many support important causes by disbursing funds to nonprofits, and are constantly looking for ways to increase their social impact.

As a professional in philanthropy, you must research and adopt better ways of helping nonprofits achieve their missions. One aspect of grantmaking that is often overlooked is how to effectively issue and manage a call for applications in a way that benefits both you and the nonprofits you seek to support.

Are you planning to launch a call for applications that will allow you to financially support a cause, but don’t know where to start? To guide you with the process for a call for grant applications, here’s our quick checklist of the things you should take into account: 

Stage 1: Pre-launch of the call for projects

▢ Develop your strategy for supporting associations

Start planning your request by thinking about what you’d like to accomplish with your goal. What causes and organizations do you want to support? How do you want to support your future association partners? For example, are you only looking for projects to fund or do you also want to develop a sponsorship program?

Then, lay out the terms under which you will provide financial support. What type of grant will you provide? For example, is it a direct fund or a matching fund? Is your support restricted or unrestricted? If it is unrestricted, will you also take operating costs into account? Do you only want to fund existing projects or are you open to funding projects that are already underway?  How long will your call for projects remain open? How do you plan to stay in touch with the associations? These are all important questions you should ask during the early stages of issuing a call.

▢ Define the budget you will allocate.

▢ Establish the review process for submitted applications.

▢ Document the entire process, step by step, and assign roles and responsibilities to all stakeholders (such as the steering committee, selection committee, administrative and financial monitor, beneficiary associations, etc.).

▢ Define the communication channels you will use to offer visibility to your call for projects.

▢ Set the maximum number of applications you wish to receive and the process for receiving applications. Opt for an online form, it will make everyone's life easier! 

Stage 2: Launching the call for projects 

▢ Launch the communication around your call for applications and adapt where necessary. Multiply the communication channels, surrounding yourself with the right partners in the sector. 

▢ Keep track of the applications received on a day-to-day basis. This will allow you to stay alert and adjust your call when needed. Again, we encourage you to opt for an online system to centralize all information and compare applications to ensure that everything is working. 

▢ Score the applications you receive as you go along, based on your pre-determined scoring system. Especially in the early stages, keep an eye on the scores applications are receiving. If the average score is too low or high, you will need to tweak your scoring system.

▢ Forward applications for review to your selection committee.

▢ Keep applicants informed of the status of their application throughout the process, from receipt of their application, analysis and scoring, to next steps if they are selected, etc. Being transparent will allow you to build trust with applicants from the start. Remember that this is a prerequisite for the success of a project, since grantmaking increasingly requires ongoing engagement between you and applicants. 

Stage 3: Closing the call and project follow-up 

▢ Communicate results to everyone that submitted their application.

▢ Meet with the selected applicant(s) and review the terms and conditions of your support to make sure everything is clear to all stakeholders.

▢ Sign all legal and official documents.

▢ Disburse the grant (partially or fully) and/or proceed with the construction of the roadmap together in the case of sponsorship or project co-production.

▢ Inform your internal teams of the status of your call.

Stage 4: Evaluate the project and adjust the processes 

▢ Debrief internally about the progress of the award process.

▢ Create reports on the award process.

▢ Measure the impact of the actions taken or supported and obtain key results.

▢ Communicate about the success of your actions, the results achieved, and the improvement points you want to implement.

Perfect your call for applications process

Organizations of all types, from foundations to corporations, have used Optimy’s all-in-one platform to launch and manage their calls for proposals for over 12 years.

Our team of CSR experts has acquired expertise in issuing calls for applications through years of experience helping some of the world’s best-known brands support important causes.

Contact us to discuss your processes and learn how you can perfect your next call for applications with Optimy!

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