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Help Sheet - Right-sizing

The Takeaway: Right-sized grantmaking maximises the value of grants and doesn't place undue burdens on grantseekers.

What is right-sizing?

Right-sizing means making sure that what is asked of grantseekers throughout the process of applying for and acquitting a grant is in proportion to the amount of money on offer. When grantseekers are asked to provide an excessive amount of information, the resources they need to spend on the response can significantly reduce the true value of the grant.

What should we do about it?

Two US-based organisations - Grantmakers for Effective Organisations and the Grant Managers Network - have developed valuable resources to assist grantmakers with right-sizing.

Both documents are worth reading in detail, but in summary, the Grant Managers Network recommends that you:

  • know the net value of your grants. The net value is the value of a grant itself, minus the cost of seeking, getting, managing and reporting on the grant. You will need to communicate with grantees to gain this information. Ensure that the net value remains a high proportion of the overall amount granted.
  • periodically reassess what information you really need from grantseekers. It is useful to start with a blank page and ask yourself what information you would actually use and whether there is another way you can get it.
  • simplify the application and reporting process for small grants (requirements should be varied according to grant size and type). Grants of less than $5000, for example, as well as funding renewals, grants for operational support, and repeat grants, are all considered good candidates for modified procedures.

Grantmakers for Effective Organisations also suggests working out what you really want to know, and how you can get hold of that information. In addition, GEO recommends that you:

  • assess whether you can break the process into different stages, so grantseekers don't need to provide all the required information at once
  • assess what you can reasonably expect to learn in what amount of time.

Both organisations acknowledge that you as the grantmaker require a certain amount of information to establish whether a potential grantee is capable of delivering the results you're looking for.

GEO proposes eight factors to consider in that assessment: organisational history and track record; governance and executive leadership; organisational vision and strategy; proposed planning, outcomes and evaluation; human resources; external communications; relationships and networks; and financial health.

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