How We Are Using GrantAdvisor

By Jocelyn Curran

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If you are reading this blog as a philanthropy professional and you haven’t heard of GrantAdvisor, you need to visit their website today! We feel very fortunate to be among the early adopters of this anonymous feedback tool that recently celebrated its two year anniversary. What we appreciate about GrantAdvisor is that it is a way to give and receive feedback on grantmaking that helps increase transparency and decrease the power dynamic between nonprofits and funders.

Feedback tools

Some folks have asked, what about your Funder Feedback tool? Aren’t they the same? And, I’m always glad they ask. We view the tools as complementary and not mutually exclusive. We like Funder Feedback because it’s quick and very easy to complete. Anyone we meet with can fill it out within 30 seconds and our team members will receive direct, anonymous feedback on a quarterly basis. GrantAdvisor is fantastic because it is visible to the entire field. It holds funders accountable for their behavior in a way that they haven’t been - to date. It’s also direct, real feedback from nonprofits that can be used to help others be more strategic with their fundraising. If a funder is known to take 40+ hours on diligence and gives small, restricted grants, maybe they shouldn’t be on a list of potential funding partners. And, as a funder, if organizations are reporting that the application process is taking 40+ hours, it might be time to update the process to be more efficient. Before GrantAdvisor, none of this information was readily available to the public - as it should be.

Staying accountable

At the PF, we review the GrantAvisor feedback on a monthly basis to see if there are any larger trends that we should explore. It has been helpful to report back to the team about how many hours nonprofits are spending on grant applications for us. We are very proud that the median time it takes an organization going through our grant application process is 4 hours. We have been using this number internally to make sure we are holding ourselves accountable to a paper light process. If we do the things we’ve committed to, such as accepting documents created for internal purposes, reports prepared for other funders, etc -- we should be able to stick to this number. We have also used this information to reduce the hours we were spending on diligence across the different grant amounts. For example, our year-to-year grants process shouldn’t be taking more time to complete diligence than our multi-year grants. And now we have the numbers to make this happen.  

Funders need critical feedback

If you click on the Peery Foundation’s reviews, you will quickly see that we have a VERY critical review at the top of our list. What was unfortunate about the review was that there was no way for us to identify where in our process they had a poor experience. We are eagerly looking for that critical feedback so we can continue to improve. If you have critical feedback for us, please do share it with us in a way that gives us specifics so we can fully reflect and act on it.

We need each other to achieve our missions, and honest feedback about things that are advancing our shared goals (or not) is a crucial first step.

- Kari Aanestad, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Hey Grantwriters! You’re inspiring bold moves and big change

Asking for feedback

GrantAdvisor has been a great experience for us and we encourage everyone to leave reviews for their funders. It helps keep us accountable. If you are a funder, reach out to your grantees and ask them to fill out a survey for your organization. There is a very handy tool kit that GrantAdvisor has created that will help you get up and running. If you still aren’t convinced, check out this GrantAdvisor blog post to learn more about how the feedback provided is playing a crucial part of transforming philanthropy. We CAN make a difference, together.