Ask any funder their top reason for turning down an application and they will say “because the applicant did not read the guidance”. Which begs the question: why don’t people read the guidance? Or if they do read it, why do they go ahead and apply anyway even though they don’t fit with the criteria. Here are the seven reasons I have come up with.
Being proportionate should also be a guiding principle for funders. The application, assessment and reporting processes should all be mindful of the effort spent by the applicant and grant holder. But the lack of external challenge and accountability means it is easy for funders to place taxing and time-consuming requirements on those seeking their funds.
‘Just writing a cheque’ has become a disparaging remark in philanthropy. Terms like ‘beyond chequebook philanthropy’ are used to describe more strategic and involved forms of giving. The assumption is that writing a cheque is a thought-free act. But giving money as a one-off donation does not necessarily mean that the donor has not thought long and hard about their gift.
The purpose of grant assessments is to determine the quality and eligibility of a proposal. It is these judgments that help a funder decide how best to allocate their resources. Reviewing the application form and supporting documents such as annual accounts, business plans and policies, gives an assessor one picture of the organisation. But if, as they say, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” then it is worth assessing culture as an important factor of a successful organisation. So how do we assess this?
Congratulations, your hard work has paid off and you have secured a grant. You now need to get on with delivering whatever activity you set out in your bid. But you have another job to do: to maintain the relationship with your funder. Just how much of a relationship you can develop will depend on the size and length of the grant and the nature of the funder.
It must be Autumn as I have started to see various campaigns urging me to write a will and remember a charity (generally a large national one) when I do so. It’s Free Wills Month in October and then there’s Will Aid in November. The awareness campaigns are important as research shows that although 35% of people want to leave money to charity in their will, only 6.3% do. But just how significant is legacy giving?
This brings me to my favourite read so far this year: the report “A Whole New World: Funding & Commissioning in Complexity” from Collaborate (link below). It “challenges the idea that an intervention (project, organisation or programme) can be held accountable for the impacts it makes in the world.” Instead “outcomes are created by people’s interaction with whole systems”. It puts forward the case for a complexity-friendly version of funding which puts people back into the heart of funding approaches.