Are Your Grants Structured To Be Successful?

Are Your Grants Structured To Be Successful?

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Versaic looks at the how of grantmaking in a 6 part blog series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 8:30am

CAMPAIGN: The How of Grantmaking


Are our grants structured to be successful? This is the second question posed in the report Assessing The How of Grantmaking from the Grants Managers Network (GMN). The report explores ways that grantmakers can determine whether their expectations of what can be accomplished with their funds in the time frame allotted are reasonable for both grantees and staff. They touch on many important questions around this topic.

We spend a lot of time talking with clients about impact. Discussions center around the desire to make a bigger impact, the need to respond to stakeholders’ questions about impact, the ability to deliver impact reports to management, and more. To really create impact, you have to build it in from the ground up. That starts with asking the right questions, first of your organization – how do we want to move the dial on social change and what kind of impact do we want to make? Understanding your impact gets beyond just the data. Don’t get me wrong, data is critically important. But getting a qualitative picture enhances your understanding of the impact you’re making. With our clients, we see that capturing qualitative data – images, quotes, videos – helps make that critical emotional connection between the work grantees are doing and the funders and other stakeholders who care about that work.

One of our clients uses a two-page impact report for each grantee. Page one captures all the qualitative data and page two captures the stories and anecdotes. The final question is “What’s the coolest thing you’ve done with your grant?” By wording the question that way, they’ve gotten some great insights into how grantees are using the funds they receive.

We’ve worked with another corporate foundation to create a StoryBank, a rich repository of all the pictures and stories their grantees share with them. Making these stories track-able and accessible is a game changer in terms of being able to communicate impact. Anyone in the company who needs to can access to these stories to help illustrate how the company is making a difference. This helps the company create a narrative around their impact that is powerful and helps stakeholders understand their investment. Another benefit of the StoryBank is that it gives the foundation a way to check in regularly on grantees to find out about their progress in meeting goals. This client prefers a low-key approach with grantees and the StoryBank, with its automatic reminders to collect impact input, enables the foundation to push gently on grantees and remind them that their progress is being tracked. With an impact-focused approach in place, the foundation is finding that their grantees are more successful and together, they’re able to have a bigger impact.

Read about Impact Reporting from Versaic