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Why is grantmaking important?

by Ornella Schillaci

Grantmaking is no easy thing to set up. But it is nonetheless very important. This grantmaking strategy bears in itself so much meaning for nonprofits. It is 100% mission-driven and aims at helping funders execute, plan and report on their giving programs but not only. Working in the grants field shows the desire to have an impact and drive change. And this is what you also want as a grantmaker, isn't it? Since you're providing resources for nonprofits' inspiring projects, you do participate in their positive impact. At least, that is the way we see it and the way you should also see it. Your job, your function is valuable. So it might be important to be aware of it and make sure that you have everything required to do your job the best way possible. 

As a grantmaker, you need complete skills to master your grantmaking process. You need to offer a nice applicant-friendly experience but also to be transparent and flexible, evaluate the projects, maintain the relationship with all parties and, of course, organize and report on these projects. It can be a lot. Because it can be overwhelming, we thought it might be important to remind you why grantmaking is so important. 

Grantmaking addresses all fields

Whether it's cultural, societal, social, health, scientific, environmental topics, grants can be allocated to various fields, thus helping many nonprofits to improve society. Empowering so many inspiring projects is important per se, so of course, dynamic ways of helping are necessary for today's society. Of course, our modern societies do have many means of encouraging good actions and social impact activities but this doesn't mean that grants are not needed anymore. Many nonprofits do lean on grant offers that can help them set up meaningful projects. Since NGOs and nonprofits often work in fields that are not widely known in the general market, any support is welcome and vital for them to pursue their projects. So offering grants is a great way to participate in the good they're trying to do. Whether they need resources, assistance, or materials, the funds are going to help them organize, plan and achieve their goals. Being a part of such amazing inspiring ambitions is most certainly the best reward you could hope for. Right?

Grantmaking is a whole process

You're not only playing with data, questions, information. Grantmaking is a whole process that requires various steps, a whole team to support you, and a tool to be able to manage all the steps of the process easily and efficiently. It might be repetitive, we might have said that previously but we can't help insisting: you can't do it all by yourself, but there are ways to make your life easier. Building a whole project and making sure to monitor the steps of the projects are no easy tasks but it is mandatory to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Luckily, you're not alone: you have a team and you can have smart all-in-one software to lighten your burden. Once you are set on the process and you make it crystal clear, it's time to make sure that your applicants will have a smooth experience. It's tedious work to gather data, information, and files to complete an application: don't make it even more tiresome by providing them with a complex form. Be clear about the requirements and things to provide and make sure to offer them a human follow-up.

Grantmaking is a way to find solutions

When starting of grantmaking project, the goal is obviously to help find a solution, a workaround, a better way to do things in society, no matter the exact field or the topic. Making sure of the change that you want to see happening is a nice way of building the requirements you want your applicants to have. But grantmaking in general is a way to find solutions. Nonprofits are aware of a specific issue in social communities, in society, in a specific field and they need means to provide an effective solution and build change in the field. That's where you come in. Having a broad and in-depth understanding of the issue that they're trying to fix is necessary for you to build an efficient program and address the applicants that are relevant to the grants program. Think about that when you build your funding offer because if it's blurry for you, it will be as blurry or even hazier for your applicants. This vagueness can make you both lose precious time in your social impact goals.

10 steps to plan a grantmaking strategy that is worth it

1. Have a clear goal and mission

Articulate a clear mission. This will help you focus on the projects, applicants, nonprofits, and problems you want to get involved in. Don't spread yourself in many fields: you can't do it all at once, so take your time to reflect on the things you would like to focus on. Like we said earlier: grantmaking is a way to find solutions. To which problem? This is something that must be decided before anything else. 

2. Determine what the grant will be used for

This step will be important for you to list all the requirements that the applicants will have to check to make an application. Once you are clear about the mission and goals, it will be even clearer for you to know the elements that must be fulfilled by the potential nonprofits that you want to help. Don't hesitate to brainstorm on this step in the team and to gather information on the internet: it's a worldwide web over there! 

3. Build an easy-to-understand applicants-friendly application form

Structure your form and offer an easy-to-use experience for applicants. Make sure that they can fill in your form in several stages: sometimes it takes time to gather all the files required. Make it easier for them by allowing them to come back to the form every time they have a new document to add. You can also customize this form page to offer a nice experience but this of course depends on the tool you are using, right? 

4. Get the word out

Once everything is prepared, you need to make sure that nonprofits know that there is a grant that might be interesting for them. Don't hesitate to go wild, the Internet offers a great range of possibilities to get out there: social media, PR, paid advertising, blogs, etc. 

5. Collect the applications

It's live, it's on! Applicants are there and you receive applications: that is great. Have you thought about how to split the work so you don't end up lost in the crowd? This is important to make sure that there is a clear process of collecting the applications and a team to support you and who knows what they have to do.  

6. Process the reviewing of applications and select the best one

Via a scoring system, via a list of requirements to check, no matter the way you want to process this step, do it. It will make your life easier when you'll be facing hundreds of applications that you have to go through. 

7. Keep in touch with your applicants

There is nothing more frustrating than applying for a grant and not knowing anything about when you're going to hear back from the grants makers. Keep in touch with your applicants, let them know when they will be to hear from you, don't let them in the dark: they are humans behind the screens, humans working on projects that are interesting, inspiring and that want to bring some changes out there. 

8. Make it public

Break the news about the rewarding project you are going to support: it will give it visibility and awareness and this might help the nonprofit to complete their projects. 

9. Report on your grants project

Once the project is done, you might want to take a look at everything. Reporting on data, on the team efficiency, on everything that went well, or not. Share the information with all the stakeholders involved. 

10. Learn from the past

Linked to this previous step: sleep on it. Learn from everything that happened during the project so you can improve the next one. You tested some things during your previous grantmaking process and it worked? Great! Keep them. But let go of everything that went wrong. You did a great job, now it's time to do an even better one. 

And of course, for all these steps, there are ways to make it even easierWhat do you think