Make it easy to work with us

How 2022 Community Innovation applicants rated our process versus others *

  • much better 50%
  • somewhat better 22%
  • about the same 12%
  • somewhat worse 5%
  • much worse 0%
  • did not apply to other funders 11%
Why it’s important to us

We want people who apply for a grant with us to have a great experience — one that’s as simple and helpful as 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 through all our grant programs 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 are focusing on our Community Innovation grant program because it is our biggest grant program. Our most recent applicant survey data suggests 72% of applicants find our process 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 overall rate us positively compared to others but 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.

We also provide grants to organizations that are finalists, but not ultimately awarded an Ecosystem grant or Bush Prize, to compensate for the time they spent 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: Community Innovation Application Survey, January — December 2022