Ten top tips on providing feedback

Carefully considered feedback can be helpful to grantseekers, and it can also make life easier for grantmakers in return.

  1. Be open and willing to communicate. A difficult conversation can save you trouble further down the track. It may, for example, stop you from having to assess applications for something that will never be eligible for funding.
  2. Understand your audience, and their perspective. This enables you to tailor communication to their needs, ensuring it is respectful and helpful.
  3. Know when to begin… and end. Consider creating a timeline showing grantseekers what communication they can expect to have with you, and when.
  4. Choose your method. Some grantmakers don't want anything recorded in writing, in the belief that this protects them in a legal sense. Others like to have every step in the process documented. A telephone call means grantseekers can hear your tone of voice and inflection, which means they're more likely to understand what you're trying to say. An initial telephone call followed by a letter is a good approach.
  5. Be flexible. You may not be able to reach some people by phone, and you will then have to contact them by email or post. And if you prefer to communicate in writing, be prepared for the telephone to ring when someone wants to have a conversation.
  6. Share the learnings. Given its public nature, social media is not the place to provide constructive criticism to individuals. However, if themes emerge from the feedback you've been giving, then you might like to tweet it or share it on your Facebook page. You can publish tips and trends on your website, as well as general feedback on the quality of applications. You might like to issue a media release to draw attention to this material.
  7. Know what you are communicating. Don't feel pressure to provide feedback if there isn't anything to say. Sometimes the only feedback you can give to an applicant is that there wasn't enough money to go around, even though their application met the criteria.
  8. Keep it simple. Make it easy for grantseekers to understand your feedback. Be direct; don't bury your key points.
  9. Reap what you sow. When you give feedback, consider asking for feedback on your own processes in return.
  10. Understand the effect. Consider whether your feedback is helpful to the grantseeker. How would you feel if you received it? Can you suggest a funding alternative, or encourage them to reapply in the next round?