publication date: Apr 25, 2012
author/source: Joan Benson
grant-funded charities and nonprofits have heeded public calls for
accountability, transparency and responsibility. They are responding by evaluating
their technology and investing in grant management systems that help them meet
demands for clearly stated outcomes and impact. Here in my final article in
this series, I'll summarize the top ten characteristics to look for when you're
evaluating grant management solutions.
1. Ability to track and measure success
financial (dollars spent per hired training participant) and programmatic
(meals served) tracking within the system are vital. Outcome measures involve
regular, systematic tracking of the extent to which program participants
experience the benefits or changes intended. Make sure your solution doesn't
simply try to provide a work-around field or accounting code to handle these
critical measures. Look for a solution that allows you to define, measure, and
report on the key outcomes that make your program and organization the best
investment for funders.
2. Intelligence dashboards
nstant visibility of performance and
results for any program, grant, or application. Know exactly where your programs
and grant pipeline progress stand as soon as you login. Grant management
solutions that include this instant visual will give you the ability to quickly
communicate and make adjustments to programs or processes to meet your goals
and outcome measures. You no longer need to wait for a program's end results,
reacting after the fact with no ability to change results. With true success
measures and intelligence dashboards, your organization will be poised for new
levels of performance, credibility and success.
3. "Right" reporting
best grant management solutions take the unique requirements of the grant
report recipient into account. They provide out-of-the-box reports to meet
typical requirements and customizable reports for expanded capabilities. Look
for a solution with a user-friendly interface and workflow that employees at
all levels of experience will find easy to use.
4. Collaboration capabilities
applications, program management and contact lists are inheritably
collaborative. To capture the highest level of efficiency and improve
collaboration throughout your organization, look for a grant management
solution including integrated contact management that will provide an
easy-to-understand flow of communication and a relational picture of your
organization's network. The best solutions will use the communication and
collaboration elements to help you keep track of deadlines, create budgets and
better manage the grant pipeline. Look for customizable collaboration tools to
deliver management efficiency, visibility, and shared access for key areas of
5. Document management
document sharing will strengthen productivity, collaboration, and compliance.
Look for a grant management solution allowing you to quickly store, access and
update documents for each grant, relationship and application across the
6. Advanced budgeting
tracking is crucial to ensuring an organization fully uses the grant funding
received, while also observing restrictions. Make sure any grant management
solution you are considering includes budget building tools by item or dollars,
quickly creates pro-forma budgets for grant applications, and integrates with
your financial accounting solution to simplify and strengthen financial
writers and program managers are often offsite. A web-based grant management
solution will allow staff members to maximize productivity and efficiency
across the organization.
8. Grant application tracking
date tracking, reminders, shared documentation and a common contact list will
allow faster compilation of application components and, therefore, a higher
9. Internal controls
internal controls will help ensure the highest levels of accountability and
security, building your organization's credibility and ensuring donors' trust.
10. Seamless integration with
fund accounting and CRM solutions
reporting, strengthen collaboration, and fully utilize the strength of your
networks and resources with fully integrated solutions. Providing
up-to-the-minute program and grant balance tracking, indicators, and financial
oversight will help set up your organization for success.
organization relies heavily on grant funding, you'll need an automated system
that addresses every stage of the grant life cycle. The best grant management
software products will help members of your organization apply for new grants;
receive grant funds; budget, track and report on success measures; manage
grant-related documents; develop lasting relationships with grantors; and earn
grant renewals. By effectively managing the grant pipeline, a grant management
solution can help ensure your organization applies for enough grants to fund
its mission and provide a stable cash flow.
Joan Benson is a product marketing manager for Sage North America's Austin, Texas-based Nonprofit Solutions
business unit. Benson has worked in the not-for-profit space for eight years
and in product marketing/management for 15 years. She began her career in the
accounting and manufacturing sector, where she developed expertise in cost
accounting, operations, and product development.