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How to manage grants for environmental projects

by Ornella Schillaci

Often when we think of grants, we don't imagine projects linked with environmental matters. Nevertheless, the environment and the climate change concern are on top of everybody's minds, especially this year, a few weeks after the COP26 in Glasgow. Environmental grants are a great way to join your social impact efforts with environmental concerns that are deeply present in the news.

But what are environmental grants?

Whether it is to fund local communities and their environmental activities like trees planting or preservation of biodiversity, or to support group that promote environmental education and sustainability, environmental grants follow the same goal: given support to groups that aim at doing good for the environment at a large scale. The activities can be various: conservation of natural ecosystems or education of communities with environmental skills, help to threatened species, support to environmental research, promote waste reduction and pollution reduction, etc.

Where to start?

As for every other project, planning is key. Rushing into a project without having all the information would be too hasty and ensure your failure. Take a bit of time to think about:

  • What kind of good to you want to do, regarding the environment?
  • What are the criteria that you want your applicants to have?
  • What are the steps of the grants application process you want to set up?
  • How will the reviewing take place?
  • What goals to you want to reach? How will you report on your program?
  • Who will be involved?
  • How are you going to announce the results?
  • What is the timeline?

Have you thought it through?

Great. You're probably more than ready to start with the creation of your grant application form.

How to build a proper Grant Application form?

Since you want to attract high-quality applicants, you need to build a form that will help you review the applications to only keep the ones that are the most relevant and interesting for your grant program.

First of all, you need to know what is really important to you, what you strongly want to know about the applicants. Along with these information about the project they aim at developing, there are also practical legal administrative information that you need to gather. Make sure to be straightforward with that.

Make sure to give possibilities for your applicants to add documents and to be able to add notes or justifications in boxes, and not just closed questions that can't afford more than 100 characters.

Add optional information to know more about them but without being too intrusive and make your form concise: no need for them to go through 10 pages of 50 questions each.

Don't be afraid to ask precise elements regarding their budget needs and their goals.

Technology should be user-friendly

You know us: we always go for the software and defend the fact that technology can save a lot of time in your daily tasks and help you manage all your administrative tasks easily thanks to automated workflows. That doesn't mean that it has to be complex. Even if you're building a custom-form that shows your branding, logo, images, colors (which is great!), don't fill up your page with thousands of information, buttons and popping tabs that will distract your user. Your form has to be easy to navigate on and easy to complete. Make it nice to look at and even nicer to fill in.

Let them know what's going on next

It's always super frustrating to send an application and ending up not knowing what's going to happen next. Make sure to prepare a nice "Thank you" page after they submit their project for them to know what's going on afterwards: how much time will it take for you to review the applications, when will the result be announced and how, where can they contact you directly if they need information, or maybe where they can spend time getting inspiration or information on other activities, projects, grants that are available and that could be insightful for them. Keep in touch with them: automation gives you a lot of opportunities and tools to thank them for their applications and remind them of what's going on. Don't be inhuman: make sure the bond is there.

Be open to support and software

If you started implementing this project manually, that's brave and good. But at some point, you're facing limitations and struggle with challenges. Good news: there are tools to help you get through them. Don't neglect them (us). And get in touch.