The Rise of Online Applications

Funders seem to love them.  Grantwriters hate them.  Online application processes.

Balky processes:

Recently I completed a “Celebrate Ontario” grant application on the Grants Ontario website.  In addition to the “One Key” Log on for the Service Ontario site there is now an additional log on process for Grants Ontario.  I waited 48 hours before my log in was sent to me after registration. Once on the site I was presented with two options: Complete the application online or download the form.  Since I couldn’t get more than the first page to display online, I chose “download the form”, thinking to email the form to collaborators for input.  HOWEVER, the copies generated by the form were locked pdf’s and it was impossible to convert the document to Word for collaboration.
I tried uploading it back onto the site but there seemed to be no way to save a draft created offline for online collaboration once the form had been downloaded. Submit was the only option after upload.  It was truly infuriating.

Wasted time:

In order to work collaboratively it was necessary to copy and paste questions one by one into a Word document and then collect responses and copy back into the document.  Why?  What is fundamentally wrong with allowing organizations to easily share working on a document?
While attempting to complete an application for another program using an online fillable form, the site kept timing out and losing my work although it appeared to be functional until I hit the “save” button.

One size fits none:

Is there anything more infuriating than the “Ping” of a locked form when you have reached the end of your character limit?  Because people, organizations and projects are very different, why not allow them to provide more content in some fields and less in another.  Rigid word/character counts distort project descriptions and rob funders of detail.


But surely online forms are more secure?  I seriously question that assertion. Recently I submitted an application on behalf of an organization, working as a consultant.  I expected that I would have to verify my ability to file an application on behalf of the organization but in fact no such checks were made.  No signature was required and I could have asked that the cheque by made payable to anyone or sent anywhere.  By contrast, old-fashioned paper submissions required multiple organizational signatures.

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers