An Interview with the Incarnate Word Foundation- Adopting the Missouri Common Grant Application

The Missouri Common Grant Application was officially launched in August of this year.  So how is it being received by the grantmaking community?  With open arms! To help nonprofits and grantmakers better understand how the application is being used by a local grantmaker we interviewed Margaret Smetana, a Program Officer with the Incarnate Word Foundation of St. Louis (IWFDN).  IWFDN tested the application with its grantees this past summer and based on the success of that test have decided to continue using the application.

  1. So Margaret, the Incarnate Word Foundation (IWFDN) was one of the first foundations in the region to test the Missouri Common Grant Application (CGA) with its grant applicants this summer. How was the application received by your potential grantees?

Based on anecdotal feedback from grantees as well as responses to the Gateway Center for Giving’s survey, grantees seemed to be overall very happy with the Common Grant Application. Of those applicants who responded to the survey, 63% thought that the CGA was more user friendly than other grant applications they have completed.  A piece of the CGA that contributed to this positive feedback was the User Guide that is included with the application. 68% of applicants felt that this was a helpful tool.

One of the challenges applicants brought up was that some questions were written for program-based grants instead of operational grants. Since IWF’s grants are mostly operational grants, some of the language in the application did not translate perfectly for the Foundation’s purposes.

  1. We are so excited that IWFDN has decided to continue to use the CGA this fall.  What is it about the application that your foundation liked best?

We like that the grantees like it! It’s important to us that grantees find our application user friendly and not overly burdensome; therefore, we were happy to hear that agencies enjoyed using the CGA and that it may make their job easier as other foundations adopt it.

Our Grant Review Committee also appreciated the application. The members found that the structure and format of the application led to clear and concise responses by our applicants.

  1. Bridget Flood, the Executive Director, of IWFDN was hesitant to adopt the application at first.  What was it that changed her mind and made her a CGA convert?

Bridget decided to use the CGA in hopes that it would be helpful to grantees as other foundations adopted the application. She remained hesitant about the application until she heard positive feedback from applicants and our Grant Review Committee that they did in fact enjoy using the CGA!

  1. How has the CGA changed the way that the IWFDN operates and gives grants?

The application has not changed the way that the Foundation operates or gives grants. We now just have the benefit of using a tool that will give us the information we need from grantees and hopefully improve the grantwriting experience for agencies.

  1. What is the IWFDN’s advice to other grantmakers who are considering adopting the application?

The Foundation did edit the application to fit its needs, and we would recommend other foundations do the same (while still keeping the integrity of the application). There were some questions that were not relevant to our grantmaking, so we took those out.  Even if you’re hesitant about the application, we recommend you trying it out to see how it works for you and your grantees. You might be surprised!

To learn more about the Missouri Common Grant Application please visit the Center’s website- www.centerforgiving.org.

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