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  • Writer's pictureTina Crouse

THE IMPACT LEAK – 4 Reasons to Improve the Applicant’s Experience

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

- What impacts the good we do?

Does improving the experience of ‘one’ help us all? Grant applications require a great deal of time, thought and effort. Grant applicants describe a whole organization, even if only one person is charged with writing the application. When applications fail, we tend to assign responsibility to a single organization and yet, if 66% of grant applications fail (University of Bath Study) then it’s not a single organization, it’s 2/3 of the sector!

So if the sector IS negatively impacted by failed grant applications, then we have reason to improve the single applicant’s experience or UX as tech would say. Actually, we have 4 reasons.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema via UnSplash

1. Less hours spent by staff and volunteers

If we reduce the number of failed proposals, think of the time the entire sector gains from staff and volunteers spending MORE of their time on successful activities like improvements in programming leading to sector change. Organizations and hence the sector would retain excellent staff by gaining appropriate funding and using it on their mission. It could invigorate Board members to come up with new solutions. Basically, the sector becomes capable of outstanding achievements without the burn-out.

2. Testing concepts before projects

If we provide a way for organizations to test their concepts, all of the ideas, twists and turns of a project, prior to writing a full, laborious proposal, there will be an advantage of quick matching of funding to the best-suited projects. If applicants can find out early that their concept is not as strong as other organizations in the sector, it could lead to more collaboration and fewer organizations competing for shrinking pots of money. When we partner more and produce better projects/programs, the whole sector functions better. Disbursing tiny dollar amounts is the equivalent of one personal floatation device for 30 people, maybe we can float but we sure can’t swim.

Photo by JohnSM via Pixabay

3. Independence from single-source revenue

Imagine a charity being able to accurately predict the amount of time and money needed to pursue successful proposals and then spending the savings on programming. This is not a utopian desire but actually a model of efficiency. The majority of nonprofits do not have the independence from the granting system to be able to make decisions based on known revenue streams. And many, unfortunately, rely almost 100% on grants for their organizations to work. Being 100% reliable on an unlikely source of income to serve Canadians proves to be a system of lack for everyone. This bears repeating, for everyone.

4. Reduce the number of failed proposals to improve the sector

If time and effort, paid and volunteer, are being wasted in unsuccessful proposals, what could we be doing with all that effort? If the sector, not just individual nonprofits, could regain lost time, regain good programming (proposals fail so programs are lost), regain experienced staff lost during layoffs, we know what we would do with all those resources lost and spent on failure: We would succeed. We would succeed at reducing harm, not band-aid solutions. We would succeed at housing people, not sheltering for a night. We would succeed at helping people remain at home, not dying in overcrowded and understaffed facilities.

In short, if we improve the grant applicant’s experience, the whole sector wins. We are not used to winning, but it’s time to change the outcome.


Tina Summer 2020.JPG
Written By Tina Crouse

Tina Crouse is the CEO of, a tech4good social enterprise on a mission to strengthen the nonprofit sector. Tina's career has spanned more than 2 decades in the charitable sector with a specialty in grant development.  She has created a number of ‘firsts’ in Canada and has worked at 3 tech companies, heading up 2 social enterprises.

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