publication date: Feb 21, 2012
author/source: Joan Benson
Organizations expect technology investments to bring them efficiencies
and productivity. Grant management technology is no different. The goal of implementing
it is winning and retaining more grant dollars to support your charity.
A lot of work goes into each grant application,
inquiry or letter of intent. In this article, I'll cover how technology can
improve these processes and facilitate the collaboration that ensures more
Building and maintaining a grant
For every grant you've been awarded, there are
often two to four applications, letters of intent or inquiries you've been
denied. Think of grant
funding as a pipeline. You have to put the right amount of applications in one
side of the pipeline in order to win enough grants, producing adequate funding,
on the other side. A steady flow is preferable and more reliable than a torrent
of new funding followed by months of a dry, empty pipeline.
leaders and staff members often spend too much time poring over spreadsheets in
order to track grant applications and deadlines, create budgets, allocate funds
and report on performance. Using spreadsheets to manage grants can be
inefficient, error-prone, and labour-intensive. That inefficient use of time can
take away from the opportunity to research new grants, properly manage existing
awards, and develop stronger grantor relationships. It can also distract from
measuring success, reporting performance and ensuring mission success.
A good grant
management solution makes the application process much easier and helps you escape
the chaos of reactionary grant applications. By automating your entire grant
process, it helps you apply for grants, track and receive funds, budget, and
report success measures. That enables better collaboration within your
organization. You're more responsive to grantors and gain immediate insight
into program performance and success.
The right grant management
solution can cut your analysis and reporting time by up to 50%. Consolidating
and storing all relevant information in one place provides easy access to grant
information, program details, performance measurements and key contacts.
Alerting functionality and dashboards are a must for quick assessment and
to manage your grant process will also help ensure you have a steady supply of
grants in each stage of the grant life cycle - application, distribution, and
renewal - to ensure sustainability of your programs.
1: The grant pipeline
Removing collaboration barriers
A grant management solution can give you greater
transparency across programs and easier access to meaningful reporting. For
example, staff can check on how each program is performing against relevant
grant objectives, or instantly compare the actual expenditures with the budget
for each grant. Better reporting and analysis facilitates more informed
executive decision-making, stronger grantor relationships and mission success.
Central storage of related documents
A good grant management solution should include
electronic document management to help you organize and secure important grant
records. There are many details and documents to track with every grant:
applications and proposals, contact information, reporting periods and indirect
cost rates. Document management provides a central electronic file storage
system for all the documentation for each grant and lets you quickly access and
share the information whenever you need it.
Easy, in-depth reporting
Failing to follow grant-specific reporting
requirements can jeopardize current grant funding or prevent your organization
from earning a grant renewal. Multiple grants with unique reporting periods can
confuse even the most competent, organized staff.
Grant management software simplifies reporting procedures,
enabling you to produce financial updates and report on success measures
quickly and easily, as well as track grant spending across multiple fiscal
Look for a solution offering out-of-the-box reporting
with built-in charting plus scoreboards that track your progress and successes.
Whether you need a report to share with your staff, your grantors, your board
of directors or even an outside auditor, having grant management software puts
the information you need at your fingertips.
On-demand performance information
It's easy to lose track of the big picture when
you're working through the busy, day-to-day tasks of delivering services. But
to ensure that your programs are successful and protect future funding, you
must be able to access a high-level view of performance and share it with other
members of the team.
Look for a grant management solution that
includes business intelligence tools such as real-time dashboards so you can
get a quick, graphic representation of key performance indicators any time. By
keeping an eye on success metrics, your team can improve collaboration on
projects and ensure your organization is performing well enough to secure both new
grants and renewals.
There are two key factors in winning grants:
completing on-time, accurate grant applications and demonstrating past mission
performance. Whether grants are already a major part of your funding streams or
an emerging part of your fundraising strategy, using technology to manage the
grant pipeline will allow you to strengthen your credibility with funders,
improve efficiency and collaboration, and increase funding.
In next month's grant management article, I'll
discuss technology and collaboration, tracking and reporting as they relate to proposed,
awarded and actual budgets.Joan Benson is a product
marketing manager for Sage North America's Austin, Texas-based Nonprofit
Solutions business unit. She can be reached by email or through her Twitter handle, @Joani_B_. Benson has
worked in not-for-profits 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