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Half of All Grants Go to 1% of Applicants: RVA Man Wants to Change That

Philip Deng

Non-profit groups often rely on grants to pay for their activities, but applying is time-consuming and challenging.  Now, a Richmond man has developed software that could make the process easier and help organizations with money find new and worthy sources of funding.

Philip Deng has spent over a decade working for non-profit organizations, and that’s meant writing a fair number of grant proposals.  Parts of those pitches must be tailored, but other sections not so much.

“There’s an art to  crafting the language in a way that the funder is going to really resonate with," he explains, "but getting to that point is often really tedious.”

So he’s found ways to speed the process – translating his tricks of the non-profit trade into software called Grantable.

“You can re-use writing between different proposals. Grantable software is a platform that keeps all of your material in a library,"  Deng says. "Basically you can just get to the piece of information you need in seconds, and then pop that over into your proposal you’re working on.”

It may also help funding organizations to sort through pitches more efficiently. Right now, many take applications by invitation only.  If they were to accept proposals from everyone, they fear being overwhelmed.

“They end up giving to the same groups that they already know, year in and year out, so they’re sort of stuck. They can’t open the gates, because they’ll be overwhelmed, but they want to open the gates, because they know there are people out there that they really want to fund.”

Right now, he says, one percent of non-profits get more than half of the grant money available.  He’ll be testing his software this summer. 

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.