An intuitive way to improve grant approval rates is to clearly spell out the documentation that applicants need. Failure to provide the correct documentation is a very common reason for grant denial. The fund will be much more effective if it tells applicants precisely which documents and what information is necessary.
However, communicating the documentation requirements clearly is not always easy. The trick is balancing the specific requirements against the need for simple and direct language. One key is to emphasize simple language on any marketing or informational materials, but to have complete information on the application itself.
Below are some tips for this process:
- Create an internal list of all events, expenses, and the acceptable documentation for each.
- For each form of documentation on the internal list, list the specific information which it must contain. This information should be things like date, descriptions of goods or services purchased, name and contact information of the store or service provider, and other information which is useful to prove the event or expense occurred as described.
- To the extent possible, take the completed internal list and identify common features and documents needed. Take those and, in the simplest terms possible, include them on any marketing materials describing generally how to apply for a grant.
- Require applicants to verify that they are including the proper documentation. One way to do this is to have a checklist of all acceptable documents, and then have a list of all information necessary for the selected documentation. This is easier to do with an online application, which can use dynamic functionality to respond to the selected documentation – so the applicant only sees the information they need to provide for the specific documents they choose to provide.
The guiding principle is to ask yourself “how can we tell applicants what they need to give us in a simple fashion?” Since the lack of proper documentation is the most common reason for denial, this is a very key factor in maintaining a successful fund.
Author: Doug Stockham