• Schedule a Demo

10 Grantmaking Mistakes That Could Cause a Trainwreck

Better application management of scholarships, grants, awards, and more.

10 Grantmaking Mistakes That Could Cause a Trainwreck

We want to help you effectively manage you grant programs. Grantmaking should be an enjoyable process. After all, in the end, someone walks away with a nice check that can help them do something that they couldn’t do before. The sad fact is though, for some grant management teams, the operation is far from pleasant. We don’t want to see that happen to you. Therefore, below we’re sharing 10 grantmaking mistakes that could cause a trainwreck, and what you can do to prevent one.

1. Applicants Applying That Aren’t Qualified

This is a problem in grantmaking that can easily be quashed with SmarterSelect grant management software. When you use our platform, only qualified applicants will see your grant. You can also filter out ineligible candidates even further with pre-qualification questions.

regional-qualifiersAlso making sure that your website and applications speak to your ideal recipients will make it so those that fit the criteria feel identified and motivated to apply, while the ones that don’t resonate with the message will know they aren’t in the right place.

2. Not Having Enough Time to Do it All

Believe it or not, this problem can usually be all but eliminated with better planning and with the help of technology. When a grantmaker decides to give away money, the first thing they should do is develop an overview of how the entire process will go. No detail is too small to consider. Thinking ahead of time about what ifs prepares you for contingencies such as having extra help on standby when it comes time for evaluations.

Utilizing grant management software will help you save a lot of time by leveraging automation and easy management tools. This is the most beneficial aspect of using a software to manage your grants program, you will be able to regain control of your time while getting even better results than before.

3. Complicated and Confusing Applications

Your applications should flow smoothly for a more pleasurable user experience, and to receive better responses. One way to do this is to group like questions together. For example, all questions about finances should be in one place, and questions about goals for what to do with the money should also be in one place.


Furthermore, add an FAQ section, question level hints/help, and answer validation where applicable so it’s clear what types of answers candidates should be giving. It’s also a good idea to implement a user-friendly layout with sections broken down into bite-sized chunks, and to use plenty of multiple choice questions where possible so the form feels less overwhelming.

4. Not Acquiring Enough Staff

Again, this goes back to planning. Consider how long you think it will take to evaluate your applications, and then add even more time as a buffer. Next, you’ll want to seek out plenty of team members to help when it comes time to evaluate. If these are volunteers, you’ll want to add more to your list than you need just in case someone drops out.

It’s also important to consider how many weeks you have allotted for evaluations. For example, if you have 1,000 applications and it takes an evaluator an hour to review 10 applications, you’ll need support for at least 100 hours.

5. Not Acquiring The Right People

You need dependable personnel whether they are paid or volunteers. It’s also imperative that your evaluation team embodies the same morals, goals, and values that your institution does. Be sure to get referrals, and begin recruiting with plenty of time to spare. Again, have backup people in mind just in case someone suddenly can’t fulfill their role.

6. Human Errors in Data Entry/ Data Transfers

It’s much easier to avoid these kinds of issues when you use applicant management software for your grantmaking process. Applications are easy to create quickly, calculations are totaled automatically, and even evaluation scores are tallied instantly to reduce the chance of errors occuring in the first place.

7. Neglecting to Communicate With Your Donors, Team Members and Applicants

People want to know what’s going on in the grantmaking process. From deadlines to how much money is being given away. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is another area where SmarterSelect grant management software can save the day. You can easily email or text your entire database relevant information so that they are kept up to date of all the news they need or want to know.


8. Forgetting About Donor Intent

Whether your grant is self-funded, or you have raised money to give away, remembering what your grant stands for is critical for your reputation. It is imperative that you address the type of person or company you plan to give this grant to, and then relay that information to any donors.

Most importantly, once you decide on your ideal candidate, you must stick to it for at least this round of your grantmaking. If you change your mind about the type of person or company you want to give money to in the future, again you must update your correspondence before you begin donor outreach.

9. Failing to Measure and Track Everything

What gets measured, gets improved. If you don’t measure anything, how do you know what needs to be changed for the next round of grantmaking? And, if you’re not tracking what’s going on with your grant, how will you know what is done, and what is left to do.

A great example of how we help you avoid a trainwreck with this mistake is our Award Tracking. You can automate this part of the process by adding funds, and assigning award amounts to your grant recipients effortlessly.

Email notifications can automatically be sent with the relevant links for award acceptance so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you made the announcement when it’s time to divvy out the money you’re giving away. 

If that wasn’t enough, our Reports feature makes creating custom reports to analyze your applicant and evaluation data a breeze. Just choose the criteria you want to examine, and with the click of a button you can examine anything related to your grantmaking process.

10. Trying to Juggle Too Many Grants

For some grantmakers, their mantra is “more awards, more problems.” That doesn’t actually have to be the case if you’re using SmarterSelect applicant tracking software. Whether you’re trying to manage a few applicants, or a few thousand, you just need to double down on your automation, and take advantage of the resources and tools available to you.

For example, SmarterSelect helps you get your grant application ready faster by giving you access to an entire library of forms that you can use to leverage into your own. We also connect you with other grantmakers just like you so you can share experience and knowledge.

To make things even easier, you can integrate your application with more than 2,000 applications including Trello, Asana, Google Drive, Slack, and many others without a programmer. It’s never been easier to scale your grant management process and get more done in less time.

Grantmaking doesn’t have to be difficult. Learn how SmarterSelect can help you save time, money, and energy at every stage of the process - schedule your demo today!


Schedule a Demo



see all