Nonprofit Survey Says … STREAMLINE!

The more than 1,900 participants in the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s 2011 State of the Sector Survey were asked to describe one thing they would like to see funders do differently to better help their organizations. The results, released in March of 2011, continue to show more streamlining efforts are needed.

Twenty-one percent of respondents to this question suggested changes for funders that are addressed by the Project Streamline principles.

  • Thirteen percent of respondents said that the one thing they would like to see was better communication with more “dialog and honest feedback from current and prospective funders.” The Project Streamline newsletter will be offering a series of articles this year on ways to improve communications between grantmakers and grantseekers, including this month’s: Communicating Effectively with Grantees and How to Make Your Writing Clear and Concrete.
  • The respondents indicated that they want a more streamlined process that “acknowledges the costs to the organization of applying for and reporting on grants.”  As noted in Project Streamline’s report Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose, nonprofits don’t really receive grants. They receive “net grants”—the total amount of funding minus the true cost of getting and managing the grant, which means nonprofits must weigh the possibility of funding against the cost of seeking it. To address this issue grantmakers can streamline their processes to reduce the burden on grantees. Suggestions on how to streamline the application and reporting process can be found in the Guides to Streamlining. Grantseekers should incorporate application and reporting costs into their program and operating budgets and represent the true costs to grantmakers. These costs should be considered by funders as they are evaluating proposals and determining grant amounts.
  • One respondent indicated the need for right-sizing, saying “Streamline the application process and don’t require an amount of work for proposals/reports that’s out of proportion to the grant award amount.” Right-sizing is one of the Core Principles of Project Streamline. Grantmakers should ensure that the effort grantseekers expend to get a grant is proportionate to the size of the grant, appropriate to the type of grant, and takes into consideration any existing relationship with the grantee. Project Streamline’s Guide to Right-sizing the Grantmaking Process provides information on how grantmaking organizations can right-size their processes.

The Nonprofit Finance Fund is currently soliciting responses to its 2012 survey. Click here to participate.

Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is PEAK Grantmaking's communications and practices director. You can find her on Twitter @nikkiwpowell.