This is the first in a series of periodic looks at trends that we at PhilanTech see developing among our clients and others in the field. These posts will include grantmaking and grantseeking trends, as well as other items of relevance to grantmaking and grantseeking. If there is something specific you'd like to see covered, please leave a comment below.
Three trends in online grantmaking:
- I've discussed online LOIs before. Particularly with the increased volume of grant requests that is accompanying the economic recovery, this is a trend that is continuing, and is one that I think is positive. Inviting applicants to submit an LOI prior to a full proposal saves both the grantmaker and the grantseeker time. It has the added benefit of helping some grantmakers feel like they can ease their eligibility restrictions a bit in the hopes of discovering new and intersting programs, but do so in a way that doesn't unduly burden either party;
- Quantifiable outcomes. More grantmakers are looking for their grantees to be able to quantify anticipated outcomes when they apply for a grant, and then report back on those outcomes and how they fared over the course of the grant. This continues to be fueled by an interest in impact and measurement, which is a subject of ongoing debate in the philanthropy world (in terms of what can and should be measured, what "impact" means, what it says about a "good" nonprofit, and, importantly from the grantseeker perspective, what is involved in collecting and sharing impact-related information with funders);
- A character count debate. As more foundations accept proposals online, foundations see an opportunity to do one of two things: provide applicants with more flexibility, or provide stricter guidance so that applicants are providing more targeted (read: less verbose) information. Both are valid approaches. While I lean more towards allowing more flexibility, the reality of a foundation program officer's work day (and that of a trustee or review committee member) is that long-winded applicant response is both less desirable and less effective. Two takeaways here:
- Grantmakers can suggest word/character limits without enforcing them;
- Grantseekers really need to view what they're submitting from the perspective of their readers, and respect the grantmaker's guidelines, even if a response is shorter than you would like it to be.
What trends are you seeing in online grantmaking?