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4 Key Ways for an Effective Grant Application process

As grant managers, we all have experienced this issue: you receive a grant application by email. You open the file and read all the details. Based on your own criteria, you decide that this applicant should be granted the fund. Later the same day, you have a meeting where you realize that a colleague reviewed the same application and, guess what, they denied the grant.

The truth is that, too often, the exact criteria used to choose which projects to grant is not clear to all people involved, which leads to frustration for all parties, applicants included. Plus, when many different groups of people are involved in the decision-making process, communication becomes a big challenge. But the grant-making process doesn’t have to be this hard. Check here how Optimy can help you choose the best applicants.

Create effective online forms

Many people might take this for granted, but designing insightful online forms is the first step to having the right information and, consequently, making the right decision. Think of your form as some sort of conversation you want to have with applicants. As with any conversation, you should start your form with the most relevant questions. For example, let’s say that your foundation has decided to only support projects linked to health issues for the next months. You should ask the grant applicant in the very beginning what type of projects they are running; this way, you don’t waste your time checking the answers of requests that are not aligned with your foundation’s goal.

Another tip is to create forms with multiple parts if you have a complex decision-making process. This way, you can use parts of a form to represent each stage of the decision process. And Optimy’s grant management software is perfect for that. In our forms, each part serves as an independent subform that can be chronologically activated based on the answers the applicant chose in the previous part. This means that the applicant can only go forward to the next part of the form if they fit your criteria. This helps save time for both applicants and grant-managers!

Improve both internal and external communication

Even when you do your best to create smart forms, every once in a while, an applicant doesn’t submit all the information needed for you to make a decision, right? Well, we feel your pain. This is why Optimy created the messaging feature. This option allows you to send messages to external people such as applicants so you can check any information that might not be clear in the request form. With this Optimy option, there is no need to switch between your mailbox and the tool: you can directly communicate from the Optimy software in the project record. The project leader is sick? No problem, you can take over the project if needed. See directly in your dashboard if messages need follow-up and what has been sent recently.

You can also get in touch with other departments in your corporate foundation and, of course, with your own team! After all, good internal communication is all about keeping stakeholders in the loop. By having all communication accessible by the entire team, the collaboration is eased. That way, if a colleague has feedback that might impact the decision to choose a grant applicant, you can easily get such information and make an informed decision.

Create criteria to score your grant requests

Talking about collaboration with teammates, making sure everyone is using the same criteria to choose the right grantees is also key. We understand that choosing the right grant project to support can indeed be somewhat subjective, but how is it possible that different people can have such different decisions on the same application? This is why putting clear criteria in place can help you be more objective when evaluating projects. And Optimy’s Automatic scoring and Automatic Filtering features allow you to do that in a precise and fast way.

As the name says, the Automatic Scoring functionality automatically scores the application based on the applicant’s answers. A score is calculated as a percentage value that you assign to each answer. This option goes hand in hand with the Automatic Filtering functionality, which allows you to automatically sort out the incoming applications based on whatever criteria you chose.

In a nutshell, by setting up scores for each answer in the tool, you ensure that the projects pre-selected match your corporate foundation’s goals without looking further into it. And finally, you can concentrate your efforts on the proposals that meet your strategy.  

Invite external experts to review and evaluate projects

Feedback from peers and outside experts is sometimes an essential step in the decision-making process. But sharing all the important information and following up with their progress can be a big challenge. Fear not, Optimy features can help you once again.

With our evaluation feature, you can easily collect feedback from evaluators into the tool itself. Once the peer or expert gives their input, the information will be linked to the project, making it easier to review it.

We know that having control over information is vital. That is why you will be the one granting access to evaluators and deciding which information they are allowed to see. You can even make all the data you will collect from evaluators easily to interpret by creating good-looking charts and comparing the input from different people.

Final thoughts

Why is it that sales and marketing departments have been using technology to streamline their work, but the CSR sector insists on managing everything by email and Excel? After all, long gone are the days when the grant-making process had to be done manually. And technology can come a long way when it comes to choosing the right grant applicants.

Optimy can help you in every step of your grant-making flow, not the only selection. Our super-flexible tool aligns with your current workflows and needs, from collecting and selecting grant requests, creating projects’ budgets and reports—all of these in one single tool.

Wondering in which other ways Optimy can help your foundation? We’d love to hear from you— so let’s continue the conversation here.