Are you planning to offer grants to the community?

Do you know How to Design a Grant Program?

Distributing grant money is simple—but ensuring that charities and research organisations spend the money effectively is challenging. Therefore, a well-designed grant program becomes essential as it brings you closer to ensuring that the grant funding benefits the cause it was aside to assist.

Designing a grant program can be quite a task and puts forward endless questions, as there are many evaluation points to consider. The team involved in developing the grant program must make various decisions such as determining what information to ask from grant seekers, what the terms and conditions of the grant program should be, what the duration and scope should be, to name a few. Often there can be confusion around which tasks need to be completed and bring the whole grant-making process to a halt and leave the stakeholders- internal and external clueless about their next step. Therefore, designing your grant program is a crucial step to consider and undertake.

When you follow a well-established plan, the process for designing a grant program becomes less complex. In this article, we take through our key steps to successfully develop a grant program.

What is A Grant Program?

Grant programs are designed to support projects that will benefit certain sections of the population or community. Grant giving is one of how the government, not for profits, and other foundations funds different ideas and initiatives contributing towards the larger good. There are different types of grants available, and the grantees can access and apply these through various governmental, not-for-profit, and other private organisation websites offering grants.

Grant programs are the broader set of activities that sit around the grant funds. They are activities designed to ensure that the grant funds are being spent effectively against the cause or issue they support.

Grant programs usually will require that the grantee provide regular reports to demonstrate how they are spending the funding provided to support the cause it aims to help.

How Do You Design a Grant Program?

Understanding how to put together a grant program is an important step when offering a grant, although knowing where to start can be an intimidating task. So, how do you design a grant program? Some of the steps discussed below may prove helpful when undergoing the job of delivering a grants program.

  1. Start with developing the grant programs aims and deliverables

The very first step in designing a grant program is defining the primary aims and objectives of your organisation’s broader vision and mission. From there, you need to consider what the goals of your program are. It is essential to consider how the critical objective of your grant program aligns with this and what you expect it to achieve. Map out what you want to accomplish through the program and get your internal stakeholders on board.

  1. Decide upon the grant criteria and guidelines

Now that you have a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve with the distribution of grant funds. The second step to designing a grant program is to compose the grant program’s essential guidelines and standards. The program standards should be transparent and straightforward. Your policies should assist grant applicants in understanding how and when they are eligible to receive grant funding. Include all essential details around the terms and conditions, purpose, scope, reporting requirements, and grant eligibility.

  1. Establish funding details

Another essential consideration to keep in mind when you design a grant program is to decide whether you want the funding to be for a single grant cycle or a multi-year grant cycle. Considering whether you want to direct all the funds towards a single grantee working towards a more significant initiative or you want to fund multiple grantees, and thereby numerous projects could help you determine what the best approach would be here. Other details that will need to be determined when designing a grant program are to think about how you would like the financial reports to align with their grant progress. During this stage of developing your grant program, it is crucial to work with your internal stakeholders to establish all the finer funding details. Determining this information early on is a critical step to ensure the successful delivery of a grants program.

  1. Design the application form

Now that you have gone through designing a grant program, you must develop the grant program application form in a grant management solution. The grant application form needs to strike a delicate balance between asking for just the right amount of information from grantees and not being so arduous that no one applies for the grant. On the one hand, too much information may restrict grantees from applying for the grant, while failing to request enough information may create difficulty when it comes time to picking the most exemplary applications.

  1. Prepare your program delivery team

Once the application form is complete, you need to determine and clearly define the decision-makers in the ongoing management of the grant program, articulate their responsibilities, and provide any required training or knowledge around delivering the grant program to all members involved. Resolve doubts or questions the program delivery team would have.

  1. Decide on the promotion strategy

Now, you have reached the final step in designing a grant program. You must decide how you will promote your grant program to the public to ensure the not-for-profit organisations and community at large are aware of the grant you are offering and the initiative you want to support. You can use your organisation’s website, newsletter, or local media to describe your program and answer any questions.

Following the above outlined basic steps will ensure you have successfully planned and prepared enough.

The Importance of a Well-Designed Grants Program

It may seem that developing a grants program is a relatively straightforward task; however, looking at the steps above gives us an idea of the complexity and effort that goes into designing a grant program. Taking the time to design your grants program thoroughly helps you mitigate the risk associated with a poorly designed grant program. It also helps with the ongoing management of grants and ensures successful outcomes. Below are more of the benefits associated with a well-designed grants program:

The benefits of a well-designed grant program:

  • Provides you with ample time to think about how your grant program’s objective aligns with your organisation’s vision and mission and allows you to make any required changes.
  • Serve as an action plan for the implementation team to successfully follow the process without being worried about their next steps.
  • Removes ambiguity for both internal and external stakeholders and prevents issues caused by miscommunication.
  • The documents, guidelines, and strategies developed during program design act as a go-to kit for the team involved in implementing the grant program. They provide clear expectations around what is required and who is responsible.
  • Act as a point of reference when designing other grant programs in the future, offers a chance to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and develop a better program.


Now you should have all the information required to know precisely how to design a grant program. Developing a checklist will help indicate the steps you have completed and the ones that still require your attention.

Planning is the foundation for successful, cost-effective, and responsible grant management.

It is essential for funders to identify and resolve any implementation or grant delivery challenges right at the beginning. Collaboration with governmental and non-governmental entities and seeking insights from grantees can prove to be helpful during the grant creation and designing stage.

A well-designed program will give you the confidence to embark on your giving journey with a fresh and positive mindset and help you make the desired impact.

OmniStar Supports Successful Grant Program Delivery

A grant management system like OmniStar Grants reduces the administrative burden and cost associated with grants management. It successfully assists you through all the stages of your grant life by simplifying complex processes, automating repetitive tasks, freeing you to concentrate your grant-making efforts on what is essential.

Get in touch with an OmniStar expert today to discover how you can transform your current processes and increase your grant-making impact.

Related Insights

OmniStar Grants Logo OmniStar Grants Logo

When to Use Built-for-purpose Grants Management System

There are lots of systems that claim to be able to provide grant management capabilities. This article covers the considerations and common pitfalls when selecting other than a purpose-built grant management system.

5 Features To Stay On Top of Your Projects

OmniStar Insights

Here’s a round-up of our top five favourite OmniStar features and a brief description of them we put together for you—in case you have missed them in our release notes.

OmniStar Grants Logo OmniStar Grants Logo

Why CRMs are not Grant Management Systems

CRM’s are built for a different domain requirement (than GMS). They are built for industry sectors such as Sales, Services and Marketing to manage customer relationships. Avoid making a costly mistake by trying to twist a CRM into a grant management system!

Let’s get in touch