2020 profoundly changed philanthropy. There were fundamental shifts in how grantmakers awarded funds and also who applied for support. Because Submittable software connects foundations, nonprofits, and government entities with grant seekers, grant applicants, and awarded grantees, our team saw adjustments to the field, on both sides, firsthand.
While we gratefully analyze annual client surveys and manage special projects focused on the funder perspective, we query applicants and submitters less often. So this spring, our team sent out a short questionnaire. We wanted to know about recent grant applicant experiences—and, specifically, what role had Submittable played?
Here are a few key highlights from the data. Big thanks to our grant applicant survey respondents, to those working to simplify the grant application process (in crisis and beyond), and to so many funders that stepped up in a major way to support community during 2020 and 2021.
Grant Applicant Survey highlights
1. More than half of all respondents were new grant applicants
58% of survey respondents (110/189) had never used a grants system besides Submittable.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the same 58% (for this question, 94 respondents out of 163) had never applied for grants at all before 2020.
We asked respondents who had used other systems to identify benefits that Submittable offers. 77% (61/75) said Submittable was easier to use than competing platforms.
They also noted an appreciation for the platform’s time-saving capabilities, accessibility, design, mobile-responsiveness, and reporting tools.
2. A majority applied to grants for work-related support
73% of respondents applied to grants to support professional projects (32%), an organization they run (28%), or an organization where they work (13%).
Respondents most often reported grant applications for their small businesses and organizations where they volunteer.
Because respondents could select more than one option for this question, we received 261 total responses, meaning that 72 responses were additional. That explains why 50% of respondents also shared that they applied for grants to recoup lost income or meet personal needs.
From this we can estimate that one half or more of all respondents applied for grants for both professional and personal reasons. And a small group (6%) sought grants for personal projects.
3. A good system makes a big difference
Survey respondents repeatedly described what a relief it was to apply for grants using an intuitive platform.
We were honored to discover that 95% of respondents reported that they would recommend Submittable to funders and grantmakers.
Here are a few kind words people shared:
—Shirley King, CEO of Shikindezynes
—Carnelle Howell, Howell Consulting Services
—Gayelynn McKinney, COO of Beatstix Music
How Submittable helps grant applicants
Survey respondents shared positive feedback about Submittable in three main categories.
1. Ease of use
Our team was grateful to hear from many respondents that the application experience was clear, accessible, and user-friendly.
—Brandi Webb, CEO of Glam Avenue LLC
—Mark Tetpon, Alaska Native Artwork
—Paquita Poole, Owner of Rena's Couture
2. Award-winning support and great resources
We asked grant applicants to tell us about their experience with customer support and Submittable resources such as help articles, the blog, and videos.
Among 59 people who engaged with help resources, 95% rated Submittable positively, with selections of Excellent (75%) or Good (20%).
—Jennifer DeLoach, Owner of Blur Boutique
Regarding respondent experience with other Submittable resources, 88% of responses were positive, with selections of Excellent (59%) or Good (29%).
3. Organization and opportunities
Submittable helps applicants easily keep tabs on the status of their applications, in addition to connecting grant seekers with promising opportunities through features like Discover.
—Laura C Hopper-Fish, Chef/Owner at Laura & Tony's Kitchen
—Dennis O'Connor, Director of Finance and Administration at MediaVue Systems
Improving your process with Submittable
For funders of any kind, including foundations, nonprofits, corporate funders, and government agencies, Submittable has everything you need to streamline your grants process and maximize impact. Take it from your applicants—ease of use and great support are a huge bonus, especially during trying times. Find out more today.
Methodology: Our team received 189 responses filled with great feedback. The survey targeted individuals who had applied to two or more different grant opportunities through Submittable between June of 2020 and March of 2021. Survey recipients responded to four required questions (around three minutes to complete) and 20 optional questions (requiring five to 10 minutes). All quotes were used with explicit permission from respondents. One respondent, selected at random, received a $100 Visa gift card.