As many grantseekers will attest, our field is not finished thinking about how grantmakers can streamline their application and reporting practices.
In the last ten years, a sea change in the availability and quality of grants management and grantmaking online systems has meant that most (though not all!) grantmakers have moved their application and reporting processes online. This has removed some of the most obvious and burdensome issues encountered by grantseekers (ten double-spaced copies of the proposal, anyone?). But a tour of application and reporting requirements in the philanthropic field still offers a healthy array of the redundant, the onerous, the inexplicable, and the maybe-sensible-but-not-well-explained.
For all those who are new to the field, those who need a refresher, or those who missed the streamlining train last time, we are rolling out a new series of blog posts that will highlight issues, identify good practices, point you toward resources, and give you food for thought. Our posts will be short (streamlined, even) and full of practical advice. Subscribe to our email list to be sure you don’t miss any of them.
Almost ten years ago, PEAK Grantmaking – formerly Grants Managers Network – began a field-wide conversation about minimizing the burdens of grantmaking application and reporting both on nonprofits and within grantmaking organizations. This effort, called Project Streamline, encouraged grantmakers to understand the costs of their processes and take practical steps to make them more sensible, straightforward and streamlined.
Through two research-based reports, Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted by Purpose (2008) and Practices Matter (2012), we documented that burdensome grantmaking requirements and old habits meant that funders and nonprofits alike were spending unnecessary time and energy on things that didn’t matter. Practical tools, webinars, and workshop sessions followed and hundreds of funders have taken on the challenge of assessing and then streamlining their grantmaking. We will continue to work toward a world where all funders have intentional processes that make sense for staff and grantseekers alike.
So let’s get started! Here are two things to do first:
- Refresh your memory about the Project Streamline Basics. We’ll be going back over the key points during this blog series, but if you can’t wait, you can review the most important elements of Project Streamline on the PEAK Grantmaking website:
- In addition to the blogs that remind you of the basic Streamlining principles and practices, check back for more from Dr. Streamline, who will continue to diagnose the good, the bad, and the mystifying, and prescribe cures for your streamlining woes.
Dr. Streamline is Jessica Bearman of Bearman Consulting, LLC. She provides facilitation, organization development, and research and development to help grantmakers and other mission-focused organizations align strategy, practice, and culture for greater effectiveness, equity, and joy.