Recommended Core Principles and Practices

4 Core Principles

What can grantmakers do to continue reducing the burden on nonprofits and free up more time and money for mission-based activities? Our research suggests four core principles grantmakers can adopt to relieve the burden on nonprofits.

Start Fresh

Take a fresh look at your organization's application and reporting requirements. Conduct a rigorous assessment of what kind of information is really needed to make grantmaking decisions. Ask: Are we really going to use this? Is there another way we can get it? Have we sufficiently explained to our grantees why we need it?

  • Separate basic due-diligence requirements from program assessment and treat them differently

Right-size Grant Expectations

Ensure that the effort that grantseekers expend to get a grant is proportionate to the size of the grant, appropriate to the type of grant, and takes into consideration any existing relationship with the grantee.

  • Develop a streamlined application and reporting form for small grants
  • Ensure that reporting requirements are congruent with the grant
  • Store appropriate grantee information so that repeat grantees can provide updates without resubmitting

Relieve the Burden

Minimize the amount of time, effort, and money that grantseekers spend getting and administering grants, creating more time for mission.

  • Stop outsourcing basic administration, including requirements such as multiple copies of application and reporting documents
  • Take advantage of technology, including accepting applications and reports electronically
  • Use GuideStar, the IRS Business Master File, or IRS Publication 78 to verify grantee status
  • When possible, accept commonapplications or reports and existing grantee materials
  • Streamline processes for seeking project timeline extensions and budget modifications
  • Consider a two-part grantmaking process with a short letter of inquiry or concept paper
  • Pay for specific evaluation measures if they are required

Improve Communication

Make communications and grantmaking processes clear and straightforward.

  • Seek feedback from grantees and applicants, preferably from a third-party evaluator
  • Conduct a business process review and objective audit of foundation's information needs
  • Communicate clearly and regularly with grantees.
  • Make sure that web and print materials are accurate, up-to-date, and easy to access