What Are You Actually Asking? A Guidelines for Grantmakers


As a grantmaker, questions are your instruments. They assist you collect info, assess wants, measure outcomes, and construct relationships together with your grantees. However are you asking the suitable questions? And are you asking them in the suitable manner?

On this weblog submit, we are going to share some insights and greatest practices from our current webinar, Change Up Your Questions: Exploring and Shaping What You Ask Grantees and How You Ask Them, the place Marshall Ginn of Capital Philanthropy mentioned methods to consider and enhance your utility questions. We can even offer you seven inquiries to ask your self about your questions, to ensure they’re related, clear, respectful, and helpful.

Why Change Up Your Questions?

Altering up your questions is not only about making beauty tweaks or updates. It’s about ensuring that your questions align together with your organizational values and your objectives for the grantmaking program. It’s additionally about ensuring that your questions mirror the present state of your neighborhood and the sector, and that they respect the variety and experience of your candidates.

Reviewing and amending your questions may also assist you get higher and extra constant solutions, which may make your assessment course of simpler and simpler. By being clear about what you might be on the lookout for and why, you’ll be able to keep away from confusion, ambiguity, and guesswork. You may as well keep away from asking for info that you simply don’t want or use, which may save time and assets for each you and your grantees.

Learn how to Change Up Your Questions

Altering up your questions can imply various things, relying in your context and wishes. Listed below are some examples of what you are able to do to vary up your questions:

  • Add parts or dimensions: make clear, encourage extra exact responses, or ask for extra particulars
  • Make small adjustments: tweak the language or edit inquiries to be easier, shorter, or extra particular
  • Rewrite the entire thing: if a query feels outdated, irrelevant, or inconsistent, rewrite it to match your present priorities and expectations
  • Take issues out: if a query is just not important or doesn’t assist you decide, take away it from the applying
  • Transfer issues round: if a query is healthier fitted to a unique stage of the method, reminiscent of a follow-up interview or a post-award communication, transfer it to that stage.

For some adjustments, you could want to speak them to your neighborhood and clarify the rationale behind them. You may as well solicit suggestions out of your grantees and your reviewers to see how any of the adjustments are working and what else might be improved.

What To Ask as You Overview Your Questions

That can assist you consider and enhance your utility, listed here are seven inquiries to ask your self as you assessment every query. These questions are primarily based on the framework Marshall shared within the webinar, which you should use as a information in your personal assessment course of.

  1. Does this query mirror the mission of my group? Make it possible for your query is constant together with your values and your imaginative and prescient. This can be the primary main interplay that your applicant has together with your group, so that you need to make a superb impression and convey what you stand for.
  2. How will I take advantage of this info? Be clear in regards to the function and the worth of every query. In case you don’t have a superb reply for the way you’ll use the knowledge, you could not have to ask the query.
  3. Is that this query related? Make it possible for your query displays the present wants and realities of your neighborhood and the sector. In case your query is outdated, inaccurate, or may very well be perceived as insensitive, you could want to vary it or take away it.
  4. Can this query be interpreted differently? Keep away from utilizing regionalisms, jargon, or advanced wording that may hinder understanding. Take into account how totally different individuals with totally different backgrounds and experiences could interpret your query and attempt to make it as clear and inclusive as potential.
  5. What am I on the lookout for with this query? Be particular about what sort of reply you expect and what standards you’ll use to judge it. If you would like numbers, ask for numbers. If you would like examples, ask for examples. Present an outline or greatest practices as a second half to the query, if wanted.
  6. Can this query be simplified? Search for methods to simplify your language and your construction to make your query simpler to learn and reply. Use commonplace writing greatest practices, reminiscent of brief sentences and lively voice. Break down advanced or multi-part questions into smaller and easier ones. And once more, be conscious of jargon or extremely technical phrases.
  7. Would this query be higher requested in a follow-up interview or post-award communication? Take into account the timing and the context of your query. Some questions could also be extra acceptable or efficient at a later stage of the method, when you have got extra rapport and belief together with your grantees. Some questions may additionally be extra appropriate for a dialog than a written response.

Making a Significant and Measured Software

Questions are highly effective instruments for grantmakers, however they should be used correctly and effectively. By asking your self these seven questions on your questions, you’ll be able to guarantee that your utility is aligned together with your values, objectives, and affect. You may as well make your utility course of extra environment friendly, respectful, and significant for each you and your grantees.

Are you on the lookout for methods to replace your utility course of? Try our information on methods to handle your utility pipeline, the place you can see extra ideas and greatest practices on methods to design and optimize your utility course of.

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