Project aims to reduce cost of making grant applications

A new scheme aims to reduce the administrative burden placed on charities when they are making fundraising applications. 

The consultancy Giving Evidence has today launched the project, which is looking to understand why funders’ application processes can be burdensome and to make recommendations as to how they could be streamlined to impose less cost on applicants. 

The scheme is being funded by the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, a two-year initiative that was launched in December by the think tank Pro Bono Economics to examine how the potential of civil society can be unlocked across the UK. 

Giving Evidence said charities and civil society organisations spent lots of time applying to funders. 

“In a bad case, it can happen that a funder’s process creates so much work for other organisations that its costs exceed the amount being given – without the funder even realising,” it said. 

It said it had seen instances of this and was looking to reduce this wastage. 

Giving Evidence said it wanted to understand why and where the costs arose, the benefits to the various parties as well as the costs and to identify the likely effects of approaches that might reduce them.

“We seek to really understand the likely effects of possible fixes, as well as their likely take-up. This seems to be an innovation in discussions and work on this issue.”

Giving Evidence said it was a good time to work on the subject because many funders changed their practices in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, becoming “faster and leaner”, so could be open to new practices. 

It said it wanted to hear from people and organisations that had worked on the issue before.

Caroline Fiennes, director of Giving Evidence, said the existing applications system did not work well for charities and often not for funders either. 

"Application costs are high, which makes the cost of capital high for charities - higher than for most companies or the public sector,” she said. 

“That has been true for ages, and there have been - and still are - various initiatives to reduce those costs. With Pro Bono Economics and the Law Family Commission, we hope to bring some fresh energy and ideas, not least through some hard-core economic modelling.”

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