In early 2014, there was a breakdown. An applicant was waiting nearly 3 months to get a response from us about an application she submitted. She was told by different people, “we’ll let you know in 6 weeks,” and “here’s our last question” followed by three more rounds of questions. Honestly, we handled her application badly, mismanaged timelines, and by the time we funded her, it was too late. The window of time to do the project had come and gone and she bravely gave us feedback about how badly we dropped the ball.
So our team sat down to look at what happened, and how we could do better. We thought about our commitment to supporting people who are courageous enough to stand up and say, “I want to do something positive in the world,” and apply for a grant. Some of our applicants have never applied for a grant, or raised money for a project. The least we could do is give them a solid timeline and set of expectations for the process.
So from that breakdown came our Applicant Bill of Rights. This document was created by our team over the course of many months, and represents what we are committed to when interacting with our applicants. While we may not always succeed, this is the standard we hold ourselves to, and is where we look when we are falling short. Many applicants have told us, whether they are funded or not, how much they enjoy working with us on the application process and how much they learn from it.
Thank you to our applicants for helping us reach to be more responsive and more compassionate funders.