When accepting applications of any kind, you want the highest quality applicants available. This is true when hiring, looking for students, or even when accepting grant applications. But how do you ensure you only get top-quality applicants? While there’s no surefire way to weed out the weaker applicants, there are some things you can do to bolster your candidate pool and fill it with strong, solid applications.
One way of improving the quality of the grant applicants you receive is to build relationships with those who will be applying. By personalizing yourself, you’re no longer just an organization. The applicant will be willing to put more effort into what he or she does.
The recipient of their application is no longer a vague concept, but an actual face and personality the applicant will want to work with and impress.
Be specific in what your organization is looking for in the application. Rather than giving a vague description, go through section by section and clearly, yet concisely, state what you are looking for. Offer an example for sections where requirements aren’t as clear as others.
You will be more likely to get the type of information you want when you ask for it clearly. The more time you spend on making the forms customized and easy to understand, the more time the applicant is likely to spend making an application worth reading.
Post links and flyers about your grant application to relevant sites and locations. By targeting the types of applicants you want, you’re more likely to receive applications that are to your liking. Find places where your preferred types of applicants spend time, like the conferences they attend and businesses they frequent. You could even send information directly to them. By pursuing them, you’ll show that not only do you value their input but that you’re serious about getting to work on whatever the issue at hand may be.
What can you offer an applicant apart from the grant money? Are there other ways you can pitch in and help the project come to life? Whether it’s volunteer hours, access to better resources, or the ability to consult on their approach to a project, if you have more to offer an applicant, he or she is more likely to go the extra mile in filling out an application and giving you something that’s really worthwhile to read and review. If you expect more from your applicants, you should be prepared to offer them more in return. Offering more value can play a crucial role in improving the quality of grant applicants.
Furthermore, the projects you fund will be more likely to succeed and be more fulfilling if you can collaborate with a top-notch applicant to see it through.
Create a Positive Culture
Create a culture you would like to see in your community. If applicants see your organization is serious about improving your surrounding area, they’ll be more apt to want to apply, and apply well. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and your actions will show your applicants you truly care about bettering the community you’re in.
Even if it’s something small, doing something that improves your community matters. It will make a difference not only with your applicants, but it will generally improve your organization’s image, possibly leading to more donors and supporters as well.
Call to Action
Be specific about the project you want done. This will attract applicants who are passionate about the same project. They may have some ideas on ways to address the exact issue your organization is looking to solve. Putting out a call to action encourages applicants to solve a specific problem. Invite applicants to show why their solution is the best one. You’ll get better responses as the applicants do their best to prove themselves.
Finally, finding grant applicants is similar in some ways to an employer’s process of hiring new employees. Many of the tactics used for improving applicants are the same or similar, needing only small tweaks here and there. As you employ some of these tactics, the marked quality improvement you’re sure to see will make it all worth it as you find the best fit for each applicant and grant.