The Honnold Foundation uses Submittable to support community organizations invested in renewable energy solutions
Founded by climber Alex Honnold in 2012, the Honnold Foundation provides funding to grassroots organizations around the world that are using solar energy to reduce environmental impacts and improve the lives of people in their communities. With a focus on supporting projects that increase access to energy using innovative solar energy solutions, the Foundation is shifting the narrative around what’s possible when it comes to energy access.
When I work with the board of directors, and I'm trying to get a better idea of, what does our application pool look like? And what is the need out there? Submittable has made it really, really easy to be able to go in and find that data.
Director of Programs, the Honnold Foundation
Before finding Submittable, the Honnold Foundation team received grant applications via email. The process left them frustrated and overwhelmed. Every email had an attachment which had to be downloaded and stored. For the small review team, this meant hours wasted just trying to organize and access the PDFs.
As Director of Programs Kate Trujillo prepared to launch a more robust and wide-reaching grants program, she knew the team needed a better solution. Having heard good feedback about Submittable from other foundations, Trujillo decided to try the platform. Immediately she was impressed. “The form builder is just so straightforward and it has exactly what I need. Not too much of anything. And it's just very easy to use," she says.
With the program launch, the Honnold Foundation saw a huge influx of new applicants. Having Submittable allowed the small team to review hundreds of applications quickly and easily, without having to download a single file.
"When we first started using Submittable, I was able to review over 700 applications in just over a week," Trujillo says.
Not only was the process much easier and less stressful, but the time Trujillo and her teammates saved meant they could show up for each other and the mission in more ways. "Using Submittable allows a lot more time for me to be able to engage in a meaningful way with the rest of our team," she says.
The Honnold Foundation supports community organizations from around the globe. In fact, the first year they used Submittable, they received grant applications from 90 different countries. “Having Submittable makes it so much easier to receive applications from all over the world,” Trujillo says.
The team finds ways to make the application process simple and accessible for non-Native English speakers. “I think the ease of the platform and the way we can create our own questions to be very straightforward make it easier for people who are non-native English speakers to access and fill out our application," she says.
This accessibility allows the Foundation to invest in projects that make an impact for both urban and rural communities. One of their recent projects funded the installation of solar systems on health clinics across Eastern Uganda, making energy more reliable and sustainable for an incredibly essential community resource.
The Honnold Foundation funds grassroots organizations to support sustainable energy solutions. Photo credit: Garrett Thomas and Congress of Communities
Because Submittable makes the application process easier on both the Foundation and on applicants, the platform has helped foster deeper relationships with community organizations. “We've had applicants and grant partners talk about how easy Submittable is,” Trujillo says.
Trujillo and her team use Submittable for the whole grant life cycle. “We provide the application, we provide the funding and the award letter. All of that happens through Submittable. And then once we award the grant, that's also where we manage all of our grant reports," she says.
Using Submittable to communicate with grantees means everything is in one place. “We're checking in with our grant partners every couple of months,” Trujillo says. “If I have a question about a report that they submitted four months ago, rather than having to sift through my email and find that, it's right there and the applicants can see it too.”
Submittable allows the Honnold Foundation team to easily access and organize data from their programs so they can understand the impact of their work and continue to adapt effectively. Getting a clear picture of who they reach and identifying barriers along the way is essential.
“With Submittable’s labeling functions and all the different kinds of searching and reporting capabilities, you can really go in and nail down where applications are coming from, what sort of keywords are popping up and if there are questions that seem to be tripping people up," Trujillo says.
Submittable has empowered Trujillo and her team to be more agile and responsive. For instance, in evaluating their data, the team has changed its approach to be more equitable. They have eliminated narrative-style questions, which served as a barrier for non-native English speakers.
Submittable has also simplified the reporting process. “When I work with the board of directors, and I'm trying to get a better idea of, what does our application pool look like? And what is the need out there? Submittable has made it really, really easy to be able to go in and find that data,” Trujillo says.
After a decade in existence, the Honnold Foundation is planning for a bigger future. Submittable helps provide the insights into their impact which allow them to build on their success and lay the groundwork for new initiatives.
As they look ahead to the next decade, the team will continue to grow the programs that have been effective, and they hope to expand into capacity building and a wider range of programming to support communities more holistically.
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