Raise your hands, my fellow EDs and development directors, if you are tired of writing 15 different grant applications to 15 different foundations.

What ever happened to the common grant application form?  Some grantmaking associations now have their own common grant applications. That is, they have a common application for dues-paying member foundations in their geographic area.  But the majority of associations, including the larger two - Northern California Grantmakers and New York Regional Association of Grantmakers - are yet to adopt one.

C’mon guys.  Universities are using the common application for undergraduate admission.  Check out the list of universities - public and private, large and small - across the country that have already done so. If Reed College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute can agree on the same form, I’ll bet the Ford foundation and the Flora Family Foundation can find some common ground.  Last year, over 700,000 applications were submitted online through the common university application. 

Imagine how many hours of re-writing, re-formatting, cutting and pasting, and re-copyediting nonprofits would save if there was a common form? And after that common grant application, how about a common Letter of Inquiry template?


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Perla Ni, founder and former publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, is the founder and CEO of GreatNonprofits. She is also a co-founder of Grassroots.com.

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