Make it easy to work with us

How 2023 Community Innovation applicants rated our process versus others *

  • much better 40%
  • somewhat better 26%
  • about the same 14%
  • somewhat worse 5%
  • much worse 0%
  • did not apply to other funders 15%
Why it’s important to us

We want people who apply for a grant with us to have a great experience — one that’s simple and helps advance their vision of what’s possible. That includes not making people guess at what our intent is or what makes for a strong proposal, so we try to provide lots of help and guidance along the way.

We can’t fund every request that comes through our door. Through a supportive application experience, we hope we can help people develop their ideas and get some value from the experience whether they are funded or not.

How we’re doing

We survey applicants and grantees, and use that feedback to continuously improve the applicant experience so we can do more of what’s working well and stop doing what’s not. For this indicator, we look across the three main programs we operate: Bush Fellowship, Community Innovation and Ecosystem grants. Our most recent applicant survey data suggests 66% of applicants find our processes better than other foundations.

(We ask the question in terms of comparison to others because there aren’t industry benchmarks for us to use. We’ve found that just asking how it is to work with us, without any comparison, gets us mostly positive answers that might not really reflect how applicants feel — or give us much to act on. So, we’ve chosen this metric to compare our process to our peers even though it feels a bit awkward to us to ask it this way.)

We are glad that people applicants are having mostly positive experiences, but we want to get better and better on this measure. Recent improvements include creating a single inquiry line for any and all requests and questions — across all of our programs; simplifying the written application for Community Innovation grants; and providing mentors to support Bush Fellowship applicants in the process.

What’s next

We will continue to reflect on feedback and work to improve and adapt the applicant experience. A few things we’re looking at now include application formats that are easier to group edit before submission, offering more multi-lingual options and submitting video proposals.

* Source for chart: Applicant Surveys for Bush Fellowship, Community Innovation and Ecosystem Grant programs, January — December 2023