Tools You Can Use
Every Streamlining Champion needs some gadgets – tools of the trade that make it easier to assess current practice, identify issues, and make plans to move forward. The tools highlighted here will help make sure that your streamlining gets off to a great start. If you have recommendations for other useful resources, let us know!
If you haven’t surveyed your grantees about your practices, then there are many questions you can’t answer accurately about your impact on your nonprofit partners. Project Streamline considers input from grantees to be an essential part of developing a streamlining plan.
You can adopt the survey just as it is, use it with modifications, or just use it for inspiration. This sample survey includes questions that inquire about the following aspects of the grantmaking process:
- Clarity of instructions and explanations
- Professionalism and helpfulness of staff
- Effectiveness of online system
- Difficulty of budget template
- Amount of time it took to apply for and report on funding
- Elapsed time before receiving notification and funding
- Ease of making changes over the course of the grant
- Utility of reporting
- Suggested improvements to the process
This survey has been used by various funders to seek anonymous feedback from successful grantees and unsuccessful grantseekers. We recommend that you disseminate the survey through an online survey tool, such as Survey Monkey or SurveyGizmo (see Idealware’s 2011 article, “A Few Good Online Survey Tools” to read more about these tools). You could also use the survey questions to develop an interview guide for individual interviews or focus groups.
The Illinois-based Forefront offers a Nonprofit Cost Audit Tool and a Funder Cost Audit Tool. These spreadsheets can help funders understand the internal costs of completing a funding cycle. They can also help nonprofits understand the net grant amount they receive after completing grant requirements. The tools and instructions for their use can be found on Forefront’s website.
This sector cost-audit tool developed by Good Done Great – currently in Beta form as a downloadable Excel form – allows a funder to calculate the likely cost of its application and reporting process to the sector – not just to an individual grantee. This allows you to make informed decisions about how to structure your grant application process, based on data about its impact.