Not All Funder Websites Are Created Equal

Jul 4, 2024 | Grant Writing

Red letters spelling the word "website" with an orange crane placing the letter "e" in the word

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been frustrated because a funder website:

  • Sent you round and round but never gave you information on their grant funding process
  • Shared who they awarded grants to, but never gave information on their grant application process
  • Told you they have shut down their open application process while they are conducting a new strategic planning process
  • Hid the fact that they don’t accept unsolicited proposals, wasting your precious time reading a million other things before stumbling on that tidbit
  • Did not share any contact information
  • Provided a list of Frequently Asked Questions that don’t answer a single question you have about their grant funding process

Now that you’re raising your hand, know you’re not alone.

In January, I joined Boyd Grants as their part-time Research Specialist, and since then I’ve been knee deep in grant prospect research projects. And let me tell you, the more I dig, the more I wish funders would understand the work of grant seekers.

If I could wave my magic wand and “fix” a few things, these would be at the top of my list.


If you are a funding organization that offers more than one grant program, please show us a complete list. Even if you only know the estimated date the application window is open, it helps grant seeking organizations prepare their calendar for the entire year. Because if we do not know what is coming down the pike, we might not have time to meet a deadline. Or worse, we miss a grant application because we didn’t think to check your website during the right time.


If you do not take unsolicited applications, make it very clear on your home page. Don’t make us click page after page to find out that bit of information. If you only fund a handful of pre-selected organizations, own that loud and proud.


I feel like corporate organizations are the worst at this. They share the types of projects they fund. Then ask you to click on *this* link for more details. That takes you to a listing of previously funded organizations. Then they suggest you click on *this* link for more details. That takes you to a statement about their corporate responsibility plan. Then they suggest you click on *this* link for more details, and you are right back where you started. Never do they share how to apply, who is eligible, or what their deadlines are. It’s a vicious cycle of nothing. And we are left pulling our hair out one strand at a time.


For many agencies, state funding is the best way to access federal funding. So much money flows from the federal government, through state agencies, before reaching sub-awardees like local governments, K-12 school systems, nonprofits, and more. Typically, it is easier to apply to a state agency than going straight to the federal source. But that doesn’t mean it is easy to find those grant programs. Most states do not have a central database for all their funding opportunities. Instead, you have to find a listing of every department for said state (because they aren’t the same from state to state, but that’s a gripe for another day) and try to find the grants listing on each page. And they aren’t always helpful – see item #1 on this list. Seriously, STATE GOVERNMENTS SHOULD EACH CREATE ONE SEARCHABLE DATABASE AND WE WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER!


No matter how much information you have on your website, grant seekers will still have questions. Please provide an email address that you check regularly and be responsive. Grant seekers want to submit a successful proposal, so we may have questions about your requirements. And the more we know, the better applications you will receive – it’s a win-win!


Listen, I get that funding agencies want to change priorities, create new strategic plans, and update the way they operate. Guess what? Nonprofits, local governments, universities, school systems, and every other organization makes similar time investments in strategic planning, all while keeping our doors open. So please don’t pause your good works during those time; funders are only hurting the communities they serve when they do that. Does it mean funders are working extra hard some months/years? Yes. But we all do it, because the work does not stop for those of us serving people who need food, housing, education, healthcare, childcare, job placement, etc.

Here’s the TL;DR. Funders, be transparent about ALL your funding opportunities and process. Make it easy for grant seekers to get the information they need. And don’t close up shop because you have “extra” work to change how you operate.

I know I’m most likely preaching to the choir here, based on the HayDay Services audience, but feel free to forward this blog post to a funder who is doing it right and thank them for their service. Maybe anonymously forward it to a funder who meets these “please don’t do this” criteria in hopes they will change their ways for the better.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Amanda Day
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