In 2010, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) held a workshop that used the Project Streamline’s Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose report as a framework for exploring concrete ways for funders to streamline their grants processes – reducing costs, minimizing burden for both grantees and funders, and maximizing efficiency. Since then, they’ve held follow-up workshops to discuss funders’ progress and give participants an opportunity to brainstorm.
The Moriah Fund is one foundation that has fully embraced streamlining.
WRAG spoke to The Moriah Fund’s Administrative Officer, Kathy Jagow, about the Fund’s progress and challenges. The following is their interview, published in June 2011, along with Project Streamline’s follow-up with Jagow, conducted in 2012.
Q: Could you tell us about your changes and why they came about?
Kathy Jagow: We decided to revise our grant process because we were receiving longer and more repetitive applications and reports than we needed. We were asking our grantees for similar information twice a year, once in the interim report they submitted with their new applications and a few months later in a final report. We felt that our current process was making both our staff and our grantees deal with more paperwork than was necessary. We were treating long term grantees the same way as new grantees.
To address these issues we cut the size of applications, no longer require subject headings, and greatly reduced final report guidelines for grantees who have recently received a grant renewal. We are also implementing the right sizing principles included in Project Streamline by having different requirements for returning grantees, new grantees, and different sized grants. Click here to view The Moriah Fund’s newly adopted application requirements for new grants and click here to view the application requirements for renewal grants. To view The Moriah Fund’s new reporting guidelines, click here.
Q: Do you expect any difficulties in transitioning – either for you or your grantees?
K.J.: I expect that after we do one round of grants with our new guidelines we will probably discover that we need to make modifications to the process. Both our grantees and our staff will have to adjust to shorter applications and reports. We had the revised guidelines reviewed by some of our grantees and included some changes they recommended in the final draft. We hope that the grantee review will minimize problems.
Q: How will the streamlined process benefit you as a funder?
K.J.: I think our streamlined process will benefit Moriah by allowing our program officers to spend less time processing paperwork and more time collaborating with our grantees. It will allow our grantees to spend less time on paperwork and more time on their missions which helps Moriah to receive more value for its investment. So far our grantees have responded very enthusiastically to the changes.
Q: Did WRAG’s Project Streamline workshop help your streamlining efforts?
K.J.: The Project Streamline workshop provided a great frame work that helped our staff think through the process of revising our grant requirements and helped us to set aside the time to focus on it. It was useful for us to hear what our colleagues were thinking and to learn about best practices.
Q: Do you have any recommendations or cautions for other funders interested in streamlining?
K.J.: I would recommend taking the timeline you develop for the streamlining process and doubling it. I had really hoped to have finished the process by the end of January, and we did not have new guidelines up and running until June. I would also recommend that you ensure your grantees’ input is part of the process. We had several of our grantees screen drafts of our new guidelines and their input was very helpful.
In 2012, Project Streamline followed up with Kathy Jagow to see how the Moriah Fund’s first round of grants went and to see if she had any updates:
Q: How did your first round of grant applications go?
K.J.: Our first round of grant applications went relatively smoothly as did our first round of final reports submitted under the new guidelines. We received positive feedback from our grantees regarding the new process. Our program officers were pleased that the proposals were shorter and easier to read but still provided sufficient information for assessment and due diligence.
Q: Did your grantees have any issues with the new grant process?
K.J.: Some of our grantees had to adjust to giving us less information; we had a few applications come in with very small margins and small type. It can be a challenge to be concise.
Q: Did your program staff have any issues with the new grant process?
K.J.: Our program officers have been very happy with our new final report format for returning grantees. The new reports update them on any progress made since the interim report and are significantly shorter for returning grantees. Our new process has limited the amount of time both our program officers and our grantees spent on paperwork.
Q: Did you discover any modifications that need to be made to your new streamlined procedures?
K.J.: We have not yet discovered any areas that need modification, but we have not yet asked our grantees who have recently completed the new process for their feedback yet.
Q: Based on your experience, do you have any new recommendations for organizations interested in implementing a streamlining process?
K.J.: Based on Moriah’s experience, I highly recommend taking the time to streamline. The process did take longer than I expected, but I think the payoff has been well worth it.