For funders and foundations, one big advantage of an easy-to-navigate grants section of your website is that you can help grantseekers are more likely to submit the required information on the first try. With clear and concise instructions, funders can also help grantseekers save valuable time that’s best spent on mission-oriented work.
Over the past three years, Candid has made data on over 15,000 funding opportunities available on Philanthropy News Digest (PND) RFP Bulletin and Foundation Directory. Based on what we’ve seen on thousands of funders’ websites, we’d like to offer eight suggestions for grantmakers to leverage their websites in ways that will save valuable time for themselves and for grantseekers.
1. Be clear: Is your window open?
Are you currently accepting grant proposals? If the answer is yes, make this abundantly clear or indicate when grantseekers can expect your submission window to open (and how long it will last). If it’s currently open, let this info stand alone or stand out at the beginning of your call for applications (bold print, shaded in red, as a headline, or however you can best let grantseekers know you’re ready to help them).
2. Clearly define your grant opportunities
If you have multiple grant programs on your website, list them with a short description for each. Or, if there is one grant opportunity, indicate your giving preferences in your grant introduction. For example, “grants are currently being offered to nonprofits in Detroit, Michigan in the areas of health, education, family services, sports, and community improvement”.
Also, do you make grants to individuals? It should be very clear whether you do or do not. If you’re open to applications from both nonprofits and individuals, please also note that.
3. Where in the world are grants being made?
If you’re making grants to organizations in specific geographic areas, be clear about those locations. Otherwise, you risk receiving proposals from far and wide, adding a lost-time burden to your grants team and to applying grantees.
Specify cities, towns, counties, states, countries, etc., and be transparent about preferences, such as: “Funding only within a 50-mile radius of Cook County, IL.”
4. Communicate deadlines prominently and precisely
Nothing is worse than vague deadlines (e.g., “September 1” – but what year?) If a deadline date has been determined, include the year. This will help if you don’t get the chance to update the application information before the following year and your deadline date isn’t, or may not be, annual. Also, noting when a specific deadline date is annual is always helpful.
In short, make all deadlines clear, visible, and on the same page as the grant opportunity you’re offering. If there are multiple opportunities with different deadlines, make sure each deadline matches the correct opportunity.
Here is an example of a funder who has clearly communicated grant deadlines:
5. Keep information about funding opportunities open and accessible
Grantseekers should not have to log into or create accounts on a funder’s website to get basic information about a funding opportunity. We understand that, in many cases, the goal may be to streamline processes. But the end result is that grantseekers spend valuable time researching an opportunity that isn’t a good fit. Or are discouraged by the extra step to register and miss out on what could be a great funding opportunity.
6. Keep all grant information in one place
Nothing leads to more confusion and wastes more time than having to constantly keep clicking on links to access grant information that’s been spread over multiple pages. Post grant information, including eligibility criteria and deadlines, application links, and any other pertinent information regarding the funding opportunity on one page. Grantseekers will be quite grateful.
7. Don’t make grantseekers come to you
Help grantseekers by offering the chance to sign up for a newsletter with timely information about funding opportunities. This is one of the best ways to inform potential grantees about opportunities at the exact time you’re offering them. Not only will you be reaching a targeted audience with these alerts, you’ll also help grantseekers avoid missing out.
8. Put the “closed” sign in the window at the end of the day
It’s not always easy to keep your website as current as possible. However, removing past grant opportunities or even noting “closed” next to opportunities when applicable will go a long way in setting expectations with grantseekers and lessen the likelihood that you’ll receive proposals you no longer can consider.
In the end, grantseekers need help and they’re turning to you. Many grantseekers doing good work to make the world a better place are stretched to capacity. The time they lose navigating sites where grant information is buried like nesting dolls through multiple hyperlinks may cost them something even more than time itself: a grant they could have pursued from another source that’s a better fit.
Finally, share your RFPs with Candid! Visit this page for details.