Generally, grant makers pay considerable attention to what they fund – grant making strategy and impact – and who they fund – the grantees/organisations/intermediaries they support. But what about the management practice of funding? In our experience, grant makers should pay equal attention to how grants are made and managed—evaluating and continually improving the practices used to make grants. Practices matter. Grant making practices are one of the most public—and sometimes one of the only—expressions of organisational values that grant seekers experience.
Every grant maker should be able to answer five core questions:
1. Does our grantmaking align with our intentions?
To know whether grantmaking aligns with strategy, you first need to answer some very basic questions about grantmaking: Where does the money go? Who gets grants? What types of grants go out the door? How competitive is our process compared to how competitive we want it to be?
2. Are our grants structured to be successful? Success for grantmakers is based on expectations. Are your expectations of what can be accomplished with your funds in the time-frame allotted reasonable for grantees and for staff?
3. Are we efficient in our internal processes? If you look closely at your grantmaking practices, are they as efficient and professional as desired, both internally and for the benefit of grantseekers?
4. Are we communicating effectively? How does your organisation convey its grantmaking goals and procedures? Are your written and verbal communications with grantseekers and grantees clear, intentional, appropriate, and courteous?
5. Does our process strengthen and support grantees?
Every grantmaker should be able to measure the success of their grantmaking practices.