A Feminist Approach to Common Applications & Reports: Lessons from the Gender Funders CoLabDownload
Grant application and reporting processes often define the exchange of information between funders and grantees. Yet, for applicants and grantees, they can be experienced as tiresome, funder-centric, a waste of time and money, and overly bureaucratic. Meanwhile, grantmakers say they don’t always read grant reports, and when they do read them, the information they contain isn’t always useful.
Acknowledging that current approaches have not served their field well, the Gender Funders CoLab (CoLab), a network of private foundations that collectively leverages over $200 million in grants annually to support gender justice organizing, set out to improve the grant application and reporting process. Over several years, they co-created a set of common application and reporting forms together with a subset of grantees and then jointly piloted the use of these forms. In 2022, Informing Change conducted an assessment of this initiative, exploring the extent to which the forms were used and the benefits and challenges of this approach for grantmaker and grantee alike.
This report describes the insights gained and opportunities available to further streamline grant application and reporting processes. Adopting the common forms had value for grantees and funders alike. Not only did it save the grantee’s time to complete one report or application for multiple funders, but the participatory, feminist process used to develop the forms meant they used questions that yielded higher quality, more relevant information. The template application and report forms used by CoLab members are included as an appendix. For Gender Funders CoLab, the commitment to “walk the talk” of equity resulted in shifting the logistics of grantmaking and making concrete changes to longstanding processes by prioritizing and listening to grantee feedback.