Grants Management

5 Tips on Finding the Right Grants Management Software Solution


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Have you recently wondered how to scale to support a new infusion of funding? Started issuing new types of grants or investments? Onboarding more people or new departments to collaborate on your grantmaking process? 

At some point in the evolution of your organization, finding the right grants management software solution to meet your transformative needs becomes a priority.  Let’s outline some of the key things to keep in mind when selecting a new grant management software system.

What is a Grants Management Software Solution?

Let’s first take a step back and level set on what a grant management software actually is, and how it should help your organization to succeed in its impact goals.  In the most basic terms, a grant management software needs to (1) Store the basic information about your grant proposals so you can easily retrieve it and (2) Track the proposal’s status as it moves through your process, from application all the way to grant reporting, and (3) tell the story of the community impact of those funds.

To support those three goals, a grants management software solution solves operational and administrative problems:

  1. Data Transparency:  Information in grant making is essential to the process, and data is captured at every step, regardless of the solution you are using.  Data about the organizations applying for funding, the people within the organization, the grant information, the programs it seeks to serve, the reporting that needs to be collected - the list is long and can be complex.  The key is whether the grants management solution will enable you to make sense of the data, connect it throughout the process, and make it easy to access and make decisions from it.  Without this connected data, the process becomes cumbersome and gives you half the picture - data transparency is vitally important.
  2. Collaboration:  Grant making and philanthropic collaboration is about how we work together to achieve common goals.  These values ring true not just in the process itself, but how the software should function in support of them.  True collaboration in a grants management system means having the communication come directly from within the system, track the conversations and actions from multiple team members and the grantees, seamlessly move the data from one group to the next and keep it all under one grants management platform.  Without that integrated connection, you lose that ability to work more efficiently.
  3. Automated Workflow:  Grant making can be a complex process, and involves a lot of different people, processes and tools to ensure that the funding is distributed to the groups best fit to use it to achieve your goals.  When looking for a grants management software system, one of the key components is how the solution can move the process through the grant life cycle, from request to review to approval and reporting.  The system needs to allow you to move through this process in a simple manner, taking you through to the next steps, and ensuring that the right people are connecting with each phase in the process, automatically.  Automation and the workflows behind are designed to take the complexity out of the process so you can focus on what matters most; grant-giving and not paper pushing.

When we start to ask the question of what makes a GREAT grants management solution that exceeds the rest, it comes down to the key features and user experience.

Whenever you look at a solution and the feature set, you should always ask “How will this feature help us over what we are doing today?”  This will give you a perspective on the WHY of a feature as well as the what.  Below is a list of just the top 5 features that a grants management software should provide.  We have compiled a list of 16 critical items with a description each, which you can download here: 

  1. Grantee Access and Online Applications:  Having a grantee portal gives you a central location to manage all the interactions with each organization.
  2. Relationship Management:  You want your grants management solution to connect all information to the people and organizations that matter to you, and be able to connect them to the grantmaking process with ease.
  3. Connected Processes:  Different steps in the grants lifecycle may require different workflows for your team members.  Look for workflow automation that connects all the different teams into workflows that will help them complete their work on time.
  4. Document Generation and eSignature:  A major time saver is the ability to use document templates to generate agreements, communications, letters and more with integrated eSignature such as DocuSign.  This way, you can populate grantee information with a click of a button.
  5. Reporting and Business Intelligence:  Powerful reporting can simplify the creation of complex data, view billing and financial status, measure the impact of programs, make more informed decisions, and present it all in a concise, visual manner.

These are just a handful of the features to consider when looking for a grants management software solution. Don’t forget to download the full list here.Whether you are just starting your technology journey or well along your way, having a good idea of what you need is a good step in selecting grants management solutions.  With a focus on data transparency, collaboration and automation, you can look for the right features that will help you to save time and increase productivity in your grantmaking process.

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