Funders agree six new principles to improve grant reporting

05 Dec 2018 News

A dozen grant funders and funded organisations have agreed to set out a more “conversational approach” to grant reporting, having found that current standards are often “more burdensome than useful”. 

The pledge by 12 large charities and grant makers was made as part of a report, jointly authored by both the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, which was published yesterday

Called New principles for grant reporting, the report was taken from material discussed “over the course of two workshops in April and September 2018” between a group of 12 funders and funded organisations; including the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief, Esmee Fairbairn and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

The report calls on funders “to do things differently” as it is they who have the “power to make change happen” when it comes to drafting and designing reporting arrangements with partner organisations. 

It also sets out six “high-level principles” agreed upon at the workshops for improving grant reporting and includes a call to move much grant reporting away from “a largely paper-based exchange towards greater investment in conversations”.   

The six principles

According to the report, the six principles agreed upon are designed to improve the culture around grant reporting, putting more of the onus on the funding organisations to be accessible to partner organisations and give more feedback on applications. 

The six agreed principles are: 

  • Funders explain why they have awarded a grant
  • Funders and funded organisations are clear about what grant reporting will look like
  • Funders are clear about the type of relationship they would like to have with the organisations they fund
  • Funders only ask for information they need and use, and question whether they need bespoke reporting
  • Funders give feedback on any grant reporting they receive, and share their thoughts on the progress of the work
  • Funders describe what they do with the information they obtain from funded organisations

The report said that “a number of funders will be testing the principles over the coming months. In summer 2019, we will work with them to review and refresh the principles based on how they have worked in practice”. 

Comic Relief said in the report that it will “use the set of principles to challenge ourselves and reflect as we review our reporting approach”. 

The Big Lottery Fund said it “has made a commitment to continually improving its guidance and monitoring expectations together with the organisations we fund” and called the agreed principles “a great opportunity to look at our next steps with regards to reporting so that it can be aligned and useful to all”. 

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