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PEAK Grantmaking

Announcing the Net Grant Calculator

The Net Grant Calculator was retired in 2021.

How much does it cost to run each of your grant programs? How much does it cost potential grantees to apply?

Ten years after our launch of Project Streamline, we’ve continued to talk with members and peers in the field about how much time is spent on making and seeking grants, the burden that it can cause both grantmakers and grantseekers, and how we can better understand the true cost.

You can now get the answers with the Net Grant Calculator, a free online tool developed by PEAK Grantmaking in partnership with New America and the Mulligan Fund.

Why are these answers so important?

When a nonprofit applies for a grant, they spend a lot of time slicing and dicing their standard information to meet the requirements of various funders. Nonprofit staff spend time researching the opportunity, reviewing requirements, communicating with the funder, having internal meetings, gathering supporting documentation, preparing customized budgets, drafting grant narratives, and formatting to fit the application requirements. They may also dedicate time to answering follow-up questions and staffing a site visit – all before they even know whether they have received any funds.

After the grant is received, more time goes into setting up or customizing systems to track the data and financial information required in grant reports and preparing and submitting reports – quarterly, two times a year, or annually.

All of this nonprofit staff time adds up to financial resources that come out of the total grant amount – leading to a “net grant.” The more work that a nonprofit puts into crafting and customizing grant applications and reports, the less time they have to spend on mission-critical activities.

The processes that grantmakers set up for application, monitoring, and reporting can all have a dramatic effect on the amount of time spent by applicants and grantees on meeting funder requirements. If grantmakers are not careful, these internal processes can also burden your own staff with work that ultimately has no impact on the success of the grant.

Staff at funding organizations spend time on a myriad of activities – from researching issues, determining funding guidelines and deadlines, communicating with applicants and grantees, reviewing LOIs and proposals, scheduling site visits, scheduling and preparing materials for meetings meetings, finalizing grant agreements, following up for and reviewing grant reports, and reporting on outcomes. While each of these tasks is important, grantmakers may find that they are spend too much time on tasks that are less important.

Every foundation – and every nonprofit – is unique and has its own culture and way of doing business. However, the hope is that this new tool can help both grantmakers and grantseekers identify inefficiencies in their own processes and help all of us focus on what matters most – our mission impact.

As more people interact with the tool and provide feedback on its utility, we will continue to refine and improve it, so it is helpful for as many funders and nonprofits to use it as possible.

With appreciation to our partners

Founded in 1999, New America is a think tank and civic enterprise committed to renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age. We generate big ideas, bridge the gap between technology and policy, and curate broad public conversation.

The Mulligan Fund is dedicated to helping create stronger and more effective organizations in the not-for-profit sector. Through tools, research, pooled funding, and capacity-building technical assistance, Mulligan Fund leverages capital – philanthropic, intellectual, and human – to support and scale world-changing ideas and organizations.