Developing An Application Process
Arguably all donors have some sort of application criteria against which they evaluate and select applications but some donors choose not to write them down, relying on a more flexible approach to initiating the grant relationship, i.e. through conversation and interview, site visits, gauging reputation etc.
Most large and long-standing donors require a written application of sorts, whether it is according to their own predetermined template or whether they allow the applicant to present the information in their own way.
Some donors are happy to consider applications for funding throughout the year while others establish a calendar of deadlines during the year, or even over a two or three-year period in which applicants must submit. It is a common courtesy to acknowledge all applications but many foundations that are inundated with requests do not do so.
In the interests of transparency and improving the quality of applications, the philanthropist may wish to provide reasons for declining the request for funding. This can open up an unwanted conversation and if the philanthropist chooses to give reasons it may wish to add that her (or the foundation’s) decision is final.
An assessment of the following elements of an application may be appropriate:
- Whether the project has a clear sense of purpose with tangible expected results OR if it is an existing project, whether it has credible (rigorous) evidence of success;
- Whether the project has been thoughtfully considered, designed and implemented to date;
- The appropriateness and viability of the project in the context of the sector’s constraints and opportunities;
- The value for money;
- The alignment of the organisations’ values and strategic objectives with the philanthropist;
- The ability of the organisation, in terms of resources and management, to carry out the project;
- Whether risks have been identified and addressed as far as possible.
This list is by no means comprehensive.