The Best Practices for Improving Grantmaking



Committed grantmakers are always looking to update, revise, and perfect their practices. Ask any grantmaker what they think about the state of their work (or any grantee for that matter), and they’ll probably give you a laundry list of ways they think the grantmaking process could be improved to ultimately make advancements in the issues they care about most.

From standardization of online grants applications, to mandatory sector-wide data collection, and fewer reporting requirements, there are critical ways grantmakers can alter their processes to increase impact. Applying for and winning funding should be a seamless pain-free process – both for the funder and the grantee.

Specifically, grantmakers must (among other imperatives):

  • Use online grants submission platforms that actually work
  • Minimize requirements of grantees
  • Use data to relieve grantee burden

But how do we get there? One of the most critical ways we can achieve these goals is by creating a grantmaking ecosystem that allows resources to flow where they need to, with as few barriers as possible. This is what Michelle Greanias, Executive Director at the Grants Managers Network (GMN), calls “the how of grantmaking.”

It is GMN’s philosophy that better grantmaking means taking some of the (significant) burden off of grantees. Grantmakers need to be thoughtful about what they're asking for, when they're asking for it, and only asking for those things that they really need to make decisions or evaluate results, Greanias said.

This sounds like a lot of work for the foundation, right? But as Greanias acknowledges, the social sector can only benefit from the realization that foundations and nonprofits should be partners, equals in the grantmaking process. They both need to work together to make long-lasting impacts on whatever community, or issue they are trying to aid or rectify.

Download the complete Best Practices for Improving Grantmaking: A Funder’s Guide, to find out the rest of the story. What is your prescription for grantmakers? Leave us a comment below, and add to the list.

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Topics: Grantmakers

Written by Aaron Lester