Standardised acquittal reports are one way of reducing the administrative burden on grantees. The collective approach to information gathering can be grantmaker-led or grantee-led, and it can benefit both parties.
What's the problem?
- Grantees often find that the reporting requirements attached to grants are out of proportion to the size of the grant they receive, and that they are not provided with sufficient resources to conduct the monitoring and evaluation that grantmakers are looking for.
- Research has found that much of the information grantees provide in their reports is not used or has little impact on the service they provide.
- Many grantmakers, on the other hand, would like to see greater compliance, better data and more analysis in acquittal reports.
- Grantmakers often waste time tracking down paperwork, taking telephone calls from confused grantees and transferring data from proposals and reports into online acquittal systems.
- Research from the UK-based charity think-tank and consultancy New Philanthropy Capital has found that community groups need support to make the shift from just gathering data to analysing that data as well. Making that shift would improve not only their reporting but their community work as well.
What's the solution?
One possible solution is the use of standardised reports, which reduce the reporting burden and also have the potential to increase the quality of reporting.
- Grantmakers can take the lead by banding together and designing a standard reporting template for community groups they collectively fund, but this will only be useful in situations where the group of funders commonly fund grants to the same recipients, and have similar or compatible reporting needs. One lead funder could coordinate reporting on behalf of all other funders.
- An alternate approach is for grantees to coordinate their reporting with all of their funding. The challenge with this approach is that it requires grantmakers to be prepared to forgo consistent reporting across their grant programs, as separate reporting requirements would be negotiated with each grant recipient.
- While it might be the case that no standard report will entirely satisfy all funders, SmartyGrants contains a sample acquittal template that can be customised by individual grantmakers to either streamline or add additional additional requirements.
- SmartyGrants allows grantmakers to run the acquittal process online, making it much easier for grant recipients to report and for grantmakers to track and review acquittals.
- Standard fields in SmartyGrants allows grantmakers to easily report across programs, as there is a known set of elements which can be used in reports, which will be common to all applications and programs in SmartyGrants.
- Reporting requirements should be agreed at the outset of funding, helping grantmakers and grantees understand how aligned their anticipated outcomes.