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Technology in the Charitable Sector


Guest post by Marina Stedman of The Good Exchange

A new research report into ‘Technology in the Charitable Sector’ has looked at the current charitable grant application and distribution landscape and revealed that hundreds of hours are being spent completing application forms per year, with just two in five being successful and two thirds of grantmaking organisations admitting that they face difficulties with funding applications.

Commissioned by The Good Exchange, global research company Vanson Bourne interviewed and surveyed respondents from 100 large and small UK grant-making organisations and almost 200 fundraising organisations in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Grant applications

On the grantmaking side, nearly six in ten reported an increase in the number of funding applications received as a result of the widening funding gap caused by cuts in government grants. Just over half said there had been an increase in the amount of money being requested by fundraisers and a higher number of charitable organisations closing down. Nearly four in ten said they spent too much time assessing grant application forms and over a quarter said their organisation receives too many applications for them to manage.

While fundraisers said that they completed an average of 33 grant applications per year, each taking an average of 8 hours to complete, grant makers stated that 20% of applications received were ineligible for funding and only 30% of all applications received were successful in getting some (but not all) of the funding requested. This equates to about 38 working days per year wasted per fundraising organisation.


89% of grant makers felt that technology could assist them to tackle key issues in local communities and enable better collaborative working with other grant-makers, although almost half of all grant-makers said they do not currently collaborate online with other grant-makers and only 15% are fully satisfied with their use of technology to facilitate collaboration. However, over 75% would be likely to use technology to collaborate with other funding organisations and partners for location-based giving around social issues in communities such as homelessness or youth knife crime, if they could maintain autonomy of funds. 87% would be likely to use technology to invite other grant-makers to support applicants they are funding or want to fund but can’t.

Technology vs people

With three quarters of grants given on a reactive, rather than proactive basis, half agreed that their organisation is much more likely to become proactive if a technology platform could make it easy to do so. Over half of the grantmaking organisations surveyed agreed that a single, on-line, stage 1 grant application form would help improve processes and save time, with 100% of those respondents agreeing that technology could help make this happen. In addition, almost all (95%) grant makers confirmed that technology could help with their grant management processes.

There has, however, been some concern in the industry that technology might replace human interactions and remove control over decision making, but 92% of the funders surveyed agreed that technology does not have to substitute human interaction and 87% felt that that technology could assist the achievement of strategic goals.

Despite this, eight in ten respondents said there are organisational barriers towards the adoption of new technology, with 57% believing that their current processes are perceived to be working well and half saying it is easier not to change their current processes.

At what stage do we reach the tipping point at which charities and grantmakers have to meet in the middle and jointly use technology to close the funding-gap?

Read the full research report.