It's been five years since Project Streamline launched to identify areas for improvement in grantmaking processes and develop principles and tools to support improved practices. Taking a page from its own book, the initiative is taking stock of its own activities, successes, and areas for improvement.
Earlier this year, Project Streamline conducted a survey of grantmakers and grantseekers to learn how the streamlining principles are being translated into practice, and just released a report detailing the outcomes.
Those who are regular readers of the somewhat irregular posts on this blog will likely know that we at PhilanTech are fans of what Project Streamline is pursuing and promoting. So we were happy to read about some of the successes of the past five years, and unfortunately not surprised to read about some areas still in need of improvement.
A few key findings:
- While the majority of the 460 grantmakers who responded to the survey indicated that they were aware of streamlining principles and had put some into practice, the majority of the 300 grantseekers who responded had not seen noticeable improvements with their funders;
- For each streamlining principle, there is a disconnect between the grantmaker perspective and the grantseeker perspective. For example, over half of the grantmakers surveyed indicated that they had right-sized either their applications or reports to align the amount of required information with the size of the grant. But 72% of of grantseekers indicated that applications for small grants were rarely right-sized.
- Strategic philanthropy and streamlining can be at odds. Some funders’ approach to more strategic giving has resulted in narrow funding areas and very specific outcome reporting requirements. Those specific reporting requirements can create additional burdens for grantees.
- There is an increasing interest in streamlining. A majority of grantmakers reported that streamlining is more important today than it was five years ago. And there is little question that grantseekers feel the same way.
- The benefits of streamlining are significant to both parties – when done correctly. Grantmakers say staff time can be spent on what matters, grantseekers spend less time on application processes, grantmakers get better data, and both sides benefit from a better relationship.
My main takeaways are threefold:
- There has been some progress since Project Streamline launched.
- There needs to be more. I support Project Steamline’s efforts and look forward the progress it will continue to make as more grantmakers streamline their grantmaking – and involve their grantees in the process.
- What we’re doing at PhilanTech is important to this effort – we provide tools that help both grantmakers and grantseekers streamline the process so that more grant dollars can be dedicated to program and service delivery, rather than to grant administration.
Image from http://www.projstreamline.org/