Your organization relies on grants as a source of funding. You would like to get more grants. It would be great if all of your grant-related information could be stored and accessed more efficiently to save you time so that you can find more grant opportunities and write more grant proposals. But grants management software costs money. How do you know when the time is right to spend money on grants management software?
Here are five signs your nonprofit should invest in grants management software:
- You missed a report deadline. You received a grant over a year ago and dutifully sent a thank you letter to the funder, and proceeded to do great work with the grant funds. Things got busy, as they always do, and you realized, too late, that you missed the deadline for the annual progress report the funder had requested. It happens more often than nonprofits would like to admit (just ask a funder), and can jeopardize your organization's relationship with that funder and chances of getting another grant. And it doesn't need to happen. With online grants management software, you can enter progress report due dates as soon as you receive the grant, see those due dates on a calendar, and even receive automated email reminders prior to due dates to help ensure you never miss another deadline.
- It takes hours to find the information needed to answer a question from your board or ED about past grants. Nonprofit boards and other stakeholders (e.g., your executive director, if you're not the ED yourself) may ask you for information about how many grants you've applied for this year versus last year, or how many you've received this year for each program that is supported by grants. Most nonprofits use a combination of Word, Excel, their email and calendaring software to track grant information. With that combination of tools, tracking down the answer to even a relatively simple question can take a lot of time. With online grants management software, you can filter your list of grants or proposals to see what was submitted or awarded when and answer your board or ED's question.
- You contacted a foundation without realizing someone else in your organization had already reached out to that foundation. You may have several people working in your development department. Or you might say, "Department? We don't have a development department! We just have me!" Either way, you may be in a position where more than one person from your organization is interacting with a funder. Perhaps one of the program staff at your organization had a conversation with a foundation's program officer, but didn't tell you about it. If you then talk to that program officer, wouldn't it be great to know that your colleague had already had a conversation? With online grants management software, you can track all interactions with funders, from the time that they are prospective funders that you're thinking about approaching. That way, anyone at your organization who is interacting with your funders can see a complete record of who said what when, avoiding potentially embarrassing situations with funders, and helping everyone stay on the same page.
- You spent hours trying to track down part of a past grant application that had the perfect phrasing for a proposal you were working writing. So many grantwriters have this experience: you're working on a proposal. You come across a question and think, "I had a great answer to a question like this when I wrote a different proposal. Which proposal was it? Was it the one I wrote last month? Or the one six months ago?" Then the grantwriter spends hours trying to track down the proposal that had that perfect language so that the answer can be copied and pasted into the current proposal. Reusing responses from past proposals can be a great way to save time by not reinventing wheels with each new proposal, as well as a way to create some institutional memory in terms of how the organization positions programs, outcomes, etc. But the process of tracking down that perfect response from a past proposal can be really time consuming. That's where grants management software comes in. With PhilanTrack, once you have answered a question once, you can easily reuse past responses by clicking a "find similar questions" button in the grant proposal you're working on, reviewing past responses, and clicking "use this answer" to use that perfect phrasing in the current proposal.
- You have an ugly grant tracking spreadsheet that only one person in your organization knows how to use. It's ok. Most nonprofit organizations have one - a spreadsheet (or several spreadsheets) that tracks which proposal was submitted when, who's responsible for the next task, what reports need to be submitted when, which requests were declined and maybe what to do differently next time, contact information for funders, etc. The problem is that it's hard to use, and it's particularly hard for someone who isn't deeply steeped in it to use. Excel wasn't designed to manage grants. And if the one person who knows how you use that grant tracking spreadsheet leaves the organization, much of the organization's institutional knowledge about grants can leave with them. Online grants management software provides exactly what you need to manage the whole grant process and track all of your grant-related information. And when there is staff turnover, all of the organization's grant-related information is stored in a safe online location that a new grantwriter or development director can access.
Do you think your nonprofit might be ready for grants management software? See how PhilanTrack can help your organization.
Image adapted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/3843456676/