Why We Need to #FixTheForm

Surprise pop-up questions. Not being able to save. Applications that take 25 hours and result in $2,000. Poorly designed grant applications cost nonprofits precious time (up to 20% of full time work), create barriers and inequitable access to funding, and lead to burnout and turnover in key roles. Small changes (ie. eliminate word limits!) can have big impacts (reduced tech barriers and time costs, increasing the likelihood that smaller, resource-limited charities can and will apply). It’s time to #FixTheForm.

What is #FixTheForm?

#FixTheForm is a scrappy grassroots international movement to identify (and fix!) the top pain points in grant applications. Feedback in 2,500 reviews of foundations on GrantAdvisor.org indicated that small (but impactful) changes to online grant applications represent the top opportunity for improvement in the field.

“small (but impactful) changes to online grant applications represent the top opportunity for improvement in the field.”

To more clearly identify the specific changes the grantseeking community is calling for, two grant folks on either side of the proverbial table (fundraiser, grantmaker) launched a survey in November 2020, and in less than four weeks it garnered 500 responses from folks in 9 countries, 40% of whom bring 15+ years of experience and represent every shape, size, and activity area of the nonprofit sector.

“[Bader Philanthropies] changed their application process due to COVID but pushed that work off on grantees who have VERY little resources…SIMPLIFY your process out of respect for the grantees who are on the front lines serving our citizens during this time. When you make last minute changes to your process, this heaps hours of work upon the very people you are trying to support.”

Reviewer 1703

What’s Next?

The #FixTheForm initiative is curating practical recommendations and unique insights at a moment when the field is poised to make great changes.

o   Aggregating and sharing results – A 2 page summary of survey results will be released in the field in the coming weeks, offering a blend of quantitative data, practical recommendations, and powerful anecdotal insights on why this issue matters.

o   Early Adopters pledging to #FixTheForm – Funders are invited to become early adopters in pledging to #FixTheForm (aka ensure their grant applications align with the field’s recommended best practices) over the course of 2021.

o   Building the movement – Industry leaders, technology providers, foundations, trusts, and nonprofits in the United States and the United Kingdom are all coming together to #FixTheForm and make grantmaking more equitable.

How can I join the “ReFormer” Community?

  • Are you a funder interested in pledging to #FixTheForm? Email fixtheform@gmail.com
  • Did you have a recent experience with a funder who needs to #FixTheForm? Write an anonymous review of them on GrantAdvisor.org and use #FixTheForm somewhere in your review. Our team will make sure the feedback gets their way.
  • Interested in staying connected to this work? Subscribe to GrantAdvisor.org.

Who is leading this work?

This scrappy, grassroots movement is led by two professionals – who sit on either side of the proverbial table (fundraiser, grantmaker) AND on either side of the Atlantic Ocean – who have spent thousands of hours navigating grant applications on behalf of nonprofits ranging in size ($3 million to $24 million), activity areas (human services to public society benefit), beneficiaries (nearly every group in every demographic category), and geographies (Minnesota to London).

Kari Aanestad serves as Co-Director of GrantAdvisor.org and is the Director of Advancement at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. In this role, Kari advances the mission and work of Minnesota’s nonprofit sector through strategic visioning, fundraising, relationship development, sector research, and education. She is also the Vice President of the Minnesota-Northstar Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association.

Laura Solomons sits on both sides of the proverbial fundraising table: By day Laura is the head of donor relations for the Sutton Trust, a foundation that champions social mobility in the UK through evidence-based programmes, research, and policy advocacy. She also serves as a Board Chair of the Peter Minet Trust, which aims to improve the quality of life for people living in the inner city boroughs of South East London.


By |2021-01-28T20:41:17-06:00January 15th, 2021|Foundations, Funding, Grantmaking, Grants, Grantwriting, Philanthropy|0 Comments

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