10 principles for designing a better grantee experience

Poorly designed monitoring processes create inconsistent user experience and inconsistent data. So we’ve developed 10 principles for designing a better grantee experience

Stephen Miller

Head of Impact Evaluation

It’s difficult being a community business or charity. Not only are you trying to address a myriad of social issues, you also need to find the money to ensure you stick around long enough to be successful. That should be the easier part though. However The Good Exchange estimate that the average charity completes 33 application forms a year. Each one takes an average of eight hours to complete. With the majority (59%) of applications unsuccessful, that’s 22 days of wasted effort per year per charity that could have been put towards social good.

At Power to Change we’ve been thinking about what we can do to improve the experience of applying for funding to us. Our own analysis shows that, if you’re successful, you’ll need to submit up to 400 fields of information across the first 12 months of your grant. We found some of these fields are duplicated between the various forms we’ve been using — for example, we might ask for your name and address more than once. We’ve also found inconsistencies between our various workstreams. For example, one grant programme may ask you how many full-time staff you have (headcount) whilst another may ask the total full-time equivalent roles you employ (hours).

Not only does this create an inconsistent user experience and data burden, it creates inconsistent data which has limited value. So inspired by the work of others, we’ve developed 10 principles for designing a better grantee experience.

10 principles for data design 

Our principles are split into two categories – the user experience and how we work.

User experience

  • Proportionate – the energy that community businesses have to put into providing data is proportionate to their stage of development and the level of funding and support they receive
  • Fewer steps – the number of data touchpoints with community businesses is kept to the appropriate minimum, and there is limited duplication of data requested between touchpoints.*
  • Less information – We don’t unnecessarily ask community businesses for any data we already hold about them or to do any calculations we could do ourselves.
  • Open to everyone – everything we design and build should be as inclusive, comprehensible, readable and legible as possible. We use Plain English as much as possible.

How we work

  • Focused – we only collect what we will use.
  • Practical – the way we collect and report on data is integrated into delivery, rather than an add-on.
  • Co-design – we involve our key stakeholders as co-designers of our data processes wherever possible.
  • Diversity – we encourage a diversity of perspectives and viewpoints are integrated into how we work. That means thinking about who we’re not including in the review process, as much as who we are including.
  • Doing less – we share what works with each other, rather than reinventing the wheel.
  • Consistent, not uniform – we use the same language, wording and design wherever possible. But we do this in a way that is proportionate, responds to the context and allows for changes in the future if we find better ways of doing things or the needs of community businesses change.

We are at the beginning of implementing these principles, and over the summer will be piloting a new approach to monitoring which we hope embodies these. We are also interested in hearing from others who have done something similar – how can we save wasted effort, and maximise social impact?

* The obvious exception being when measuring distance travelled – for that we need to ask for the same data at least twice, at the beginning and end.

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