Guest Blog: Grant Advisor - Empowering charities to speak up about funder practice

Nick Perks, former Trust Secretary at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, explains a new review site that has been launched for fundraisers, and encourages Northern Ireland charities to get involved.

Until now, there was little that charities could do if funders provided a poor service to applicants and grantees. No matter how unclear the application process, how prolonged the decision making, or how onerous or disproportionate the reporting requirements, the only choice facing fundraisers and charities was whether to bother applying in the first place.

A new platform seeks to change that. Grant Advisor is a free website that enables charities and fundraisers to post anonymous reviews of funders. Just like other online review sites, Grant Advisor reviews are helpful to other ‘customers’ (charities), helping share what the experience of applying and reporting to a particular foundation is really like. Equally important, these reviews are a public, transparent and user-led way of holding funders to account.

Grant Advisor began as an initiative of the Minnesota Council on Non-Profits and has become established in the US as a key tool for fundraisers. A partner site is now available, on a trial basis, to fundraisers in Northern Ireland.

The pilot, which is running to the end of the year, covers 15 foundations, including the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. If the pilot attracts enough use, it is hoped to extend the platform to enable charities to review any funder in Northern Ireland. The site is being hosted by CAST, a tech for good charity. To date there have been almost 100 reviews posted on the site, although at the time of writing CFNI is still awaiting its first review.

How can you get involved?

Fundraisers are asked to rate funders accessibility and effectiveness, to offer one piece of advice to the funder and one piece of advice to a friend or colleague thinking of applying, and to give an overall vote on whether the experience of working with the funder was positive or negative. There is plenty of opportunity to flag up good practice, as well as to say where things could be improved.

To post a review, or to read the published reviews, visit   It's free, totally anonymous, and a service to fellow charities and fundraisers. Any funder which would like to join the pilot can also register via the website.


The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.

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