When You’re Ready for Online Grants, but Your Foundation Isn’t

I talk to a lot of foundation professionals who are interested in online grants management, but not quite ready to make the leap.  Why?  Their paper forms are working for them (or are at least sort of working for them), and while the individual I’m talking to may really understand the benefit – to the foundation and its grantees – of managing grants online, The Foundation isn’t ready to change the way it’s been doing things.

("The Foundation" could be some or all of your colleagues or your organization’s board members, or an organizational culture that isn’t accustomed to change.)

Does this sound familiar?  If so, here are a few things you can do to start the conversation inside your foundation:

  • Find out which of your colleagues is similarly excited about online grant applications and who might have some hesitations;
  • Talk to the folks who have hesitations to find out what they are:
    • Are they concerned about the foundation getting flooded with unqualified applications?  (If so, your foundation can add an eligibility quiz to its online application to filter out unqualified applicants)
    • Are they afraid they won’t know how to use an online system?  (If so, there are lots of ways for them to get support and learn how to use the system)
    • Do they think that the status quo is just fine?  (If so, you might consider sharing the Project Streamline report with them, or encouraging them to talk to other foundations and perhaps some of your grantees to understand how moving grants management online helps not only the foundation but your grantees as well);
  • Talk to the folks who are in your camp, and put a plan in place to recruit the resistors.  The process here can’t be aggressive lobbying – it has to be finding out who among your compatriots has a good relationship with the resistors, and creating an environment where the resistors can feel safe to talk about what’s holding them back.

What do you think?  What are some ways you have found to move the conversation forward at your foundation?  I’ll write another post soon with your ideas and a few more of my own.

two people meeting

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mydigitalslrcamera/3784049371/

Author: Dahna Goldstein
November 17, 2010, 06:36 PM

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