100 Forms in 100 Days campaign saves nonprofits 1 million hours

A campaign aiming to save nonprofits a million hours through grant application process improvements has come true.

Millions of mission-related hours are lost every year to the time-consuming grant application process. Nonprofits consistently report that “technical time-wasters” in grant applications consume 20-30 percent of their time, according to over 2,500 anonymous reviews of grantmaking foundations on GrantAdvisor.org. Addressing such time-wasters is a key opportunity for funders seeking to improve accessibility and equitable access to funding.

“For many organizations, especially one that are Black- or Brown-led and far more likely to be chronically under-funded, these are particularly harmful [practices],” said a respondent to the 2020 #FixTheForm survey, co-led by GrantAdvisor’s Kari Aanestad & London-based fundraiser and grantmaker Laura Solomons.

100 Forms OutcomesLeveraging the momentum in philanthropy to address inequity, GrantAdvisor.org partnered with the Technology Association of Grantmakers (TAG) in summer 2021 to develop a unique campaign: “100 Forms in 100 Days.” Building upon key findings from thousands of GrantAdvisor reviews and 500 responses to #FixTheForm (a survey to identify specific opportunities for reducing application burdens for nonprofits), “100 Forms in 100 Days” rallied grantmakers to address the top pain point in the application process: The inability to see the full application when preparing a response. 

“The pandemic has heightened philanthropy’s awareness of what nonprofits need, especially regarding how technology can make or break their mission,” says Chantal Forster, TAG’s executive director. “It’s inspiring to see foundation tech staff become vocal advocates for their nonprofit peers as a result of the pandemic.”

The campaign’s goal was simple: Gather 100 example grant forms in 100 days. In doing so, GrantAdvisor and TAG aimed to build awareness of this pain point for nonprofits and inspire foundations to provide a downloadable version of the application on their websites. What happened was so much more.

Not only did over 120 grantmakers throughout the world participate in the “100 Forms” campaign but five leading grants management providers enabled or amplified functionality in their systems to specifically address this pain point for nonprofits. Blackbaud, Fluxx, Foundant, GivingData, and SmartSimple now provide the ability for over 3,000 foundations to enable grant form download for their applicants. This seemingly simple technical change has a multiplier effect that impacts over 1 million nonprofits according to customer data provided by the five vendors.

“Nonprofits, foundations, and the tech industry are coming together to make practical changes and address an issue that costs our sector millions of dollars a year,” says Kari Aanestad, co-founder of GrantAdvisor.org and director of advancement at Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. “This campaign demonstrates the immense collective power we hold when nonprofits offer honest feedback, and philanthropy responds.”

Campaign Results:

  • 128 foundations made their grant applications public, including some of the largest, most influential foundations in global grantmaking including  the Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and European Climate Foundation.

  • Five industry-leading grants management software providers, Blackbaud, Fluxx, Foundant, GivingData, and SmartSimple, made permanent enhancements  to their platforms, enabling foundations to make their full grant form available ahead of time. (Full list of participating foundations and vendors: http://blog.grantadvisor.org/reformer-community/).

  • 3,300 foundations can now enable grant form download  in their grants management software, impacting one million nonprofits who apply for funding. If this change saves a nonprofit one hour, that’s one million hours saved!

“These changes will really help us be able to spend less time and money on form filling and more on the causes and people we support,” said a respondent to the #FixTheForm Survey.

What’s Next?

  • GrantAdvisor and the #FixTheForm campaign will continue efforts to raise awareness and push funders to make changes that address nonprofits’ top pain points in grant applications and reports.

  • TAG is conducting data analysis on the 128 forms shared during the campaign to answer a longstanding question for the sector: “How similar are our grant application forms?” Find out on Thursday, August 19, 1 – 2 p.m. EST:  https://tagtech.org/event/100forms-results