Online Grant Applications: 10 Tips from Funders

Online Grant Applications Tips from Funders

Over the years I have found that looking at things from the perspective of others has helped me gain a better understanding of why things are the way they are. This approach has been so helpful that it has now become my ‘goto’ approach whenever I dig in to understand a problem.

To quote Stephen Covey, “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”

And that’s what I enjoy most about working at Foundant Technologies. As you may already know – Foundant develops software built specifically for managing the granting process, with solutions for both grantmakers and well as grantseekers (GrantHub). As we’ve developed our solutions – we have analyzed and viewed the challenges of the grant funding process through the perspectives of both funders as well as their applicants.

It is so exciting to harness the positive energy that Covey refers to above when both sides consider the impact to each other as we all work together to make the grant process more efficient and effective for all parties. It is in this spirit that we share these 10 Tips for online grant applications that we’ve gleaned from our customers.

Funders’ advice to grant applicants applying online:

  1. Understand restrictions (char limits, file types, supported browsers, etc.) before you start working on the online grant application.
  2. If a template is provided for any part of the grant application – use it. For example, using the funders budget format is a common request.
  3. Use the same format for follow up reports that you used for the original application to help the funders understand and digest your progress and results.
  4. Double/triple check your budget math. If it doesn’t add up – time is wasted trying to find the right information. Or worse yet, your online grant application may not get considered.
  5. Make sure you are using the most recent version of your internet browser. If funders have a list of supported or preferred browsers to use with their online form, use what they recommend.
  6. Don’t feel you need to use all the characters and space you are given. Funders typically give you more space than you need and appreciate concise, complete responses.
  7. Even though you have limited formatting options, make your application readable. Use simple bullets, spaces, and blank lines, limit your abbreviations, and don’t skimp on proper punctuation.
  8. If you have applied to a funder in the past – even unsuccessfully – use the same login and account you used previously. If you experienced personnel turnover or do not remember this information, contact the funder to ask. Funders want to keep applications from the same organization organized together and creating a separate account causes confusion and duplication in their systems.
  9. Realize the risks associated with saving your work in an online grant application form. Some forms are good about saving your draft work, others are not. If unsure, create your draft application elsewhere and then copy/paste into the form.
  10. Seek out good partners to fund your mission and don’t try to appear like you meet eligibility requirements that are a stretch. If you are not a good fit – you are wasting everyone’s time.

Do you have additional ideas to add to the list? Please share additional tips, advice, and feedback related to the online grant application process with us.

If we reduce the effort required to apply for and award grants – that is the time that can be invested back into what matters most to everyone – your programs and your mission.

Look on our Resource page for helpful whitepapers like “Practical Ways Funders and Grantees can Work Together” Or sign up for one of our upcoming webinars:

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Tammy Tilzey is the Director of GrantHub, an intuitive grant management system from Foundant Technologies, designed to increase the efficiency and funding success of nonprofits. During her career, Tammy has held development, marketing, and services leadership roles at several growing software companies. She particularly enjoys working and collaborating with passionate clients and coworkers. With GrantHub, Tammy is able to further Foundant's mission of improving the grant process for both funders and grantseekers, enabling them to further their mission of making the world a better place. What could be better than that? Tammy is active with Junior Achievement in Boise, ID as a mentor, volunteers her time as a career coach, and participates on the Grant Professional Association's Social Media Committee.

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