Background

Determined to address the great waste of time and energy caused by inconsistent and inefficient reporting and application procedures, eight organizations representing grantmakers and grantseekers came together to form Project Streamline.

Project Goals and Progress

Project Streamline was launched in 2007 to 1) identify the flaws in the current application, monitoring, and reporting practices of grantmakers, 2) develop recommended principles, resources, and tools to help grantmakers address those flaws, and 3) support grantmaker efforts to change.

Click here for a summary of the project accomplishments to date.

Need for Project

It is no exaggeration to say that the current system of application and reporting has grantseekers and grantmakers alike drowning in paperwork and distracted from purpose. Such practices may be only a small part of the bigger picture of grantmaking effectiveness, but they threaten to undermine other grantmaking effectiveness efforts by creating barriers to nonprofit success.

These barriers confront the combined third sector (philanthropy and nonprofits) with an effectiveness paradox. Foundations strive to increase their own impact, in part through specialized application and reporting practices. Many feel that they cannot be responsible stewards of philanthropy’s resources without requiring significant and customized information from nonprofit organizations. But these individualistic practices—multiplied by thousands of grantmakers—place a heavy burden on organizations seeking funding and hamper their ability to be efficient with time and ultimately effective in their missions. Most foundations don’t fully appreciate the extent and consequences of these inefficiencies and the rising number of those that grasp the problem struggle with how to solve it.

Compounding the problem is philanthropy’s diversity of purpose and operations, which makes standardizing practices across foundations highly difficult. As the saying goes, “If you’ve seen one foundation, you’ve seen one foundation.” More than 71,000 grantmaking organizations with assets of more than $550.6 billion operate in the United States. With so many funders operating in so many unique ways, it is no wonder that efforts to improve practice tend to be localized. Yet grantmakers can no longer afford to let fragmentation derail the sector from doing something about these practical obstacles to nonprofit efficiency and effectiveness.

To learn more about the flaws in the current system, barriers to change, and what grantmakers can do about it, click here.