The Twelve Days of Streamlining

On the first day of streamlining, my funder gave to me…

An anonymous feedback opportunity

(because only by asking specific questions in a safe context can funders understand how their grantmaking process is experienced by nonprofits and accurately identify opportunities for improvement. Read more about feedback and find a sample survey for grantees in “Streamline Now! Figuring Out Feedback”)

 

On the second day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

A two-paged letter of inquiry

(because a staged process can save lots of time and money, by asking for full proposals only from grantseekers with the best chance of getting funded. Read more about it in “Unpacking the LOI”)

 

On the third day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Three cost audits

(to help my nonprofit understand the cost of seeking funding, the grantmaker the cost of making the grant, and the cost of the whole process to the sector!)

 

On the fourth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Four online system user tests

(because online systems may not work as well as you think they work! Read about the Promise and Peril of Online Systems.)

 

On the fifth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

FIVE budget categories

(because although Project Streamline recommends that you don’t use a budget template at all and instead request budget and financial information in the grantee’s own format, we understand that some funders really like templates.  But please keep them to no more than five broad categories! Get a refresher on our Budget and Financial Reporting guidelines.)

 

On the sixth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Six conversations

(because grantseekers appreciate the opportunity to build relationships with their funders through meaningful interactions and conversations.)

 

On the seventh day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Seven clear priorities

(because clear and consistent communication about funding priorities helps nonprofits know whether or not it’s worth their while to apply for a grant)

 

On the eighth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Eight right-sized processes

(because right sizing means that the application process is congruent with the type and size of the grant. You can find out more about Right-Sizing here)

 

On the ninth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Nine process maps

(because it’s easy to lose track of the many steps in your grantmaking process if you haven’t taken the time to map it out. Many funders find that they have a lot more steps and internal bottlenecks than they thought).

 

On the tenth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

A “TEN” in customer service

(Streamlined funders are customer service oriented, and this matters to grantseekers. Customer service includes being in regular touch, being highly responsive to questions, and communicating using the 7 Cs: Clear and Concrete, Courteous and Collegial, Current and Consistent, and Concise.”

 

On the eleventh day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Eleven explanations

(because nonprofits often wonder what funders are doing with the information they’ve required)

 

On the twelfth day of streamlining, my funder gave to me

Twelve months between reports

(because Project Streamline recommends annual reporting unless there are specific reasons to require more frequent written reports. Read more about reporting in “Alternatives to the Fiery Furnace”).

 

 

Wishing You All Happy Holidays and a Bright and Streamlined New Year! 

 

 

Jessica Bearman

Jessica Bearman works with foundations and other mission-based organizations, focusing on organization development, facilitation, and R&D to help them become more intentional, effective, and responsive to the communities that they serve. She is also known as Dr. Streamline. Follow her on Twitter @jbearwoman.

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