International Grant Professionals Week - March 16-20, 2015

Herndon, VA.  March 12, 2015: Altum has partnered with the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) to announce the establishment of International Grant Professionals Week March 16-20, 2015. Grant Professionals Week recognizes and celebrates the work of grant professionals, who serve as administrators, consultants, managers, grant-makers and writers.

Every day, grant professionals work diligently, usually behind the scenes, to seek grant opportunities, administer projects and implement important programs for the benefit of society’s disadvantaged and underserved people. These talented professionals are dedicated to providing the highest standard of ethics, quality program development, thoughtful project implementation and wise financial stewardship. Often, those standards extend beyond the mere financial and include capacity support, long term solutions to challenges, fundraising assistance, expert project management, sustainable programming and so much more.

Grant professionals do much more than write grants – we are community leaders! We are managers, administrators, consultants, grant-makers, and we write grant proposals!” stated Debbie DiVirgilio, President of GPA.

Monday through Friday of Grant Professionals Week will address different aspects of the grant profession.

  • Monday, March 16th – Grant Profession Education & Awareness Day
  • Tuesday, March 17th – GPA Chapter and Community Event Day
  • Wednesday, March 18th – International Event Day
  • Thursday, March 19th – Thank you! Grant Entrepreneurs, Partners and Volunteer Day
  • Friday, March 20th – Grant Professionals Appreciation Day


Grant Professionals Week is an important part of the month of March 2015. The Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) has launched a campaign to bring awareness to the Grant Professional Certified (GPC) credential. March 1, 2015 will launch the “31 Days of GPC”, showcasing a daily video of a GPC explaining the importance of the credential and how it has benefitted his/her career. In where there is no recognized academic degree, certification is the only authoritative, independent measure available by which to determine a person’s experience, skill and knowledge base.

“International Grant Professionals Week is a terrific complement to GPCI’s “31 Days of GPC” event. We are proud to be a part of recognizing the grant professionals whose experience, qualifications and skills are paramount to sustainable programming at non-profits word-wide,” declared Amanda Day, President of GPCI.

For more information about GPCI, the GPC credential and the 31 Days of GPC, please visit the GPCI website at

GPA is a professional organization that builds and supports a community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good. We have partnered in this effort with GPCI, the grant profession’s organization that is dedicated to promoting competency and ethical practices within the field of grantsmanship, and the Grant Professionals Foundation (GPF), the fundraising partner ensuring the resources are available to train, credential and advocate for all grant professionals.

For more information, visit the International Grant Professionals Week web page at:

Contact for more information about IGPW:

Kelli Romero, Membership Director
Grant Professionals Association
(913) 788-3000


About Altum

Altum offers industry-leading grants management, performance management solutions, and strategic communications. Since 1997, Altum has provided innovative software products and services to philanthropic and government organizations. Altum’s products include proposalCENTRAL®, an online grantmaking website shared by many government, nonprofit, and private grantmaking organizations; Easygrants®, a highly configurable e-Grants solution that meets the unique needs of grantmaking organizations; PhilanTrack® for Grantmakers, web-based grants management software that streamlines the grantmaking process; PhilanTrack® for Grantseekers, web-based grants management software that helps grantseeking organizations manage everything from finding new funders to writing grant proposals and progress reports; Infor PM, the industry-leading performance management solution; and QlikView, the industry-leading, self-service, business intelligence solution. Altum is proud to have made the Inc. 5000 list four years in a row (2008–2011).

Founded in 1997, Altum is a privately held corporation headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington, DC, with an office in Rockville, Maryland.

About Grant Professionals Association

Grant Professionals Association, a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. GPA is THE place for grant issues. We provide professional development by way of an Annual Conference and Webinars, professional certification (GPC), Journal and E-Newsletter, local Chapters, member benefits and more!

Author: Dahna Goldstein
March 12, 2015, 01:37 PM

GuideStar Partnership - Grant Management Software

GuideStar logo

PhilanTech is delighted to announce that we have partnered with GuideStar to offer discounted access to PhilanTrack® online grants management software for nonprofits to GuideStar Exchange Gold and Silver participants. 

The GuideStar Exchange provides an opportunity for nonprofit organizations to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and share information with potential donors.  Nonprofits can claim and update their reports to provide program and mission information, financial information beyond the information in the organization's 990, and more.  By providing more information, nonprofits can become Bronze, Silver or Gold participants, and receive increasing benefits for providing more information.

With PhilanTrack, GuideStar Exchange Gold and Silver participants can:

  • Find funders: Search currently-available funding opportunities, research past grants awarded by potential funders, and research contacts in the funding organization.
  • Write proposals efficiently: Easily reuse content from past proposals when writing new grant requests and avoid reinventing wheels in each new grant proposal.
  • Manage funder relationships: Track contact information and interactions with funders and prospective funders to build relationships and institutional memory.
  • Track deadlines and requirements: Track deadlines for proposals and progress reports and receive automated email reminders about them.
  • Store grant-related documents: Store your organization's 501(c)(3) determination letter, audited financial statements, annual reports, and other documents requested by funders in PhilanTrack's document library.
  • And more!

GuideStar Exchange Silver and Gold participants can access discounted access to PhilanTrack by going to their "Manage Nonprofit Reports" page, then logging in and clicking "Benefits" to access the relevant discount code for Silver or Gold participants.

Learn more about the GuideStar Exchange.

Learn more about PhilanTrack for grantseekers.


GuideStar and the GuideStar logo are registered trademarks of GuideStar, used with permission.
Author: Dahna Goldstein
July 09, 2014, 10:35 AM

How Being More Empathetic Can Help Nonprofit Grant Writing

Empathy in Business

I attended a really interesting event last night hosted by Arlington Economic Development entitled "Empathy in Business."  The panel discussion, moderated by Jonathan Aberman of Amplifier Ventures, featured Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka, the Meyer Foundation's CEO, Julie Rogers, and the President of George Mason University, Angel Cabrera.

I was intrigued by this panel for two reasons:

  • I'm a firm believer in the power of business to help address social issues and inequities
  • There seems to be a common disconnect between business and "touchy feely" terms like empathy, with business terms generally falling in the more intellectual realm, and nonprofit terms generally falling in the more emotional realm.  I was curious to see how "business" and "empathy" would interact.  

Also, the notion of Carly Fiorina and Bill Drayton on the same panel was just intriguing.

The panel definitely didn't disappoint.  It was provocative, but not controversial; all of the panelists agreed that empathy is an essential part of business (and nonprofits, and parenting, and life in general).

A few of my favorite quotes:

  • "Any good business is one that focuses on its enlightened self-interest" - Carly Fiorina
  • "Empathy is the tool that makes business happen. It starts with listening." - Angel Cabrera
  • "Empathy is a cornerstone of what it means to be human." - Julie Rogers
  • "Ask not what your Executive Director can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your executive director." - Julie Rogers.  She was actually wearing a pin with that quote
  • "Empathy based ethics are foundational to our society, including business." - Bill Drayton

My main takeaway from the event is that empathy is a key value in business, even (and maybe particularly) in businesses that do not have an explicit social mission.  If we accept Dr. Cabrera's notion that empathy starts with listening (which all of the panelists seemed to do), then creating a sustainable business -- one that will last and produce value for a long time -- requires starting with empathy.  That means listening to investors, to customers, to employees, to communities -- and using their perspectives to guide business decisions.  It also means not valuing the perspective of investors over all others. 

So what does this all mean for nonprofits and for grant writing?  That nonprofits should be - and are - motivated by empathy is obvious, and probably missing the bigger point.  What does it mean for nonprofits to be more empathetic?

To me, the key word is listening.  To be more empathetic, nonprofits have to listen - to donors, to constituents, to employees, to communities.  What that means for grant writing is two key things:

  • Listen to your funders and prospective funders.  Foundations have missions, too.  They make funding decisions based on those missions.  Trying to fit square pegs into round holes in terms of mission fit and funding priorities isn't really listening to the foundation.  Listen to the foundation.  If your organization is a good fit with its priorities, then apply (and see the next point).  If it isn't, then move on.
  • Listen to your constituents.  What do your service recipients need?  What are they getting from you?  What are they not getting from you?  Use their voices and perspectives to keep guiding the development and fine tuning of your programs and services.  And communicate those perspectives to your funders and potential funders when you write grant proposals.  Ultimately, everyone is trying to accomplish the same thing -- to help improve outcomes for the population or area that your organization serves.  By listening to your constituents, you can better convey to your funders how support your organization will help them better meet their own missions.
  • Listen to your employeesDan Palotta's TED talk is getting lots of attention (for good reason!) at the moment.  While he advocates better pay for nonprofit employees (and I agree), what I'm advocating here is listening to your employees' non-remuneration-related needs, as well as to things they express as challenges and opportunities to better serve your constituents. 

What do you think?  What is the role of empathy in nonprofits in general, and in grant writing in particular?


Author: Dahna Goldstein
March 15, 2013, 01:49 PM

Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Excel to Manage Grants


Most nonprofits rely on grant funding to support their programs and services.  In fact, 46% report that grants make up over a quarter of their funding.

Given how critical grants are for many nonprofits, having good systems in place to manage the grantwriting process from end-to-end.  Yet 75% of nonprofits use simple spreadsheets to manage what can amount to millions of dollars of grant funds.

While some nonprofits may think that the systems they’ve pieced together are working well enough, there is a significant cost to inefficient grants management.  The Center for Effective Philanthropy determined that 13% of every foundation grant dollar is spent administering the grant.  Of that 13%, 11.5% is spent by the nonprofit.  So for every $100,000 in grant funding, $11,500 is spent administering the grant.  Imagine if that money could be spent on other fundraising efforts, or directed towards program or service delivery.  That’s where an online system to streamline the grants management process comes in.

Here are five reasons that friends should not let friends use Excel to manage grants:

  • Excel can’t manage the whole grantseeking process.  While a spreadsheet can be set up to track contacts, requirements, dates, amounts, etc., tracking is only part of the grantwriting and grantseeking process.  The whole grant lifecycle involves researching and finding new grant opportunities, cultivating relationships with potential funders, writing compelling grant proposals to targeted grantmakers, tracking the details of the grants, reporting to funders at specified time intervals, and more.  Spreadsheets are simply not designed to manage that whole process.  Most nonprofits that use Excel to manage their grants also use Word (or another Word processor) and Outlook (or Google Calendar) as well, making it necessary to check and update three separate tools, leaving a lot of room for error.  With an online system specifically designed to manage the whole grant lifecycle, everything from the initial research to the final progress report can be managed in one centralized location.
  • Deadlines and reminders.  Have you ever missed a proposal deadline?  What about a progress report deadline?  While Excel can be used to track deadlines (Excel handles dates quite well), that information is only useful if you happen to look at the spreadsheet and sort or search for deadlines to see which due dates are upcoming.  Many nonprofits will track deadlines in their grants spreadsheet, then copy those deadlines to Outlook or Google Calendar as well.  Not only does that double the effort involved in managing deadlines, it also doesn’t take advantage of a straightforward feature in an online grants management system – reminders.  In PhilanTrack, once a proposal or progress report deadline has been added to the system, it is added to your organization’s calendar (which can be synced with your calendaring software).  In addition, the system will send automatic email reminders prior to due dates to help ensure you never miss another deadline.
  • Contact management.  There’s more to managing funder contacts than just tracking contact information.  While the contact information is clearly important, tracking interactions is also important.  If you have a conversation with a funder about a grant program or proposal, where are those notes stored in Excel?  Do you add a column each time you interact with a funder to be able to keep notes separate?  What if you have 10 interactions with one funder and only two with another?  How easy is it to find the relevant notes quickly?  And how many extra columns end up getting added to the spreadsheet?  And how do you share this information with other people in your organization so that efforts are not duplicated and not lost when someone leaves the organization?
  • The bigger the grantseeking program, the more unmanageable the spreadsheet.  This is related to the previous point.  The more grants your organization pursues and gets, the bigger and more unwieldy the spreadsheet becomes.  I’ve seen grant spreadsheets that are color coded, split into multiple different sheets, organized with acronyms, and a number of other creative (and unsustainable) ways to manage growing grant programs.  The dilemma is that organizations want their grant programs to grow.  But as the program grows, the spreadsheet becomes increasingly unmanageable – and it’s at precisely that point that you need to be able to have quick and easy access to the exact information that you need at a given moment.  That’s where online grants management software comes in.  With PhilanTrack, you can easily sort proposals, grants, etc. to get to exactly the information you need, when you need it, without sacrificing the depth or completeness of information about each funder, grant, and proposal in the system.  PhilanTrack makes it easy to store all grant-related information in one place, and navigate right to the information you need, from anywhere, at any time.
  • Continuity and institutional memory.  Some people are Excel wizards.  They can create spreadsheets that do things that seem impossible.  They know all the shortcuts and can massage data in whatever way they want, whenever they want to.  If you have one of those folks on staff, that’s great for getting a robust tracking spreadsheet set up.  But what happens if that individual leaves the organization?  Will anyone else know how to find relevant information and keep the complex spreadsheet updated?  With an online grants management system, the organization’s complete grantseeking history is stored in an organized, easy-to-access and easy-to-use online location.  If the development director leaves, her successor can easily pick up the mantle and see the whole history, which reports are due when, and what information was submitted in each proposal.  And all of that information is available at a couple of button clicks rather than by pouring through tons of documents and files, linked through a complex spreadsheet.

PhilanTrack is specifically designed to manage the grantseeking process from end-to-end.  In addition to all of the features mentioned above, it also has a unique grantwriting feature: how many times have you been writing a proposal and thought, “I wrote a great response to a question like that for another funder.  I think it was sometime last year.  Now where is that proposal?”  PhilanTrack provides the ability for grantseekers to easily reuse information from past proposals at a couple of button clicks, saving the time and aggravation of having to find the Word document somewhere on your organization’s hard drive where that perfectly-phrased response resides.

To see how PhilanTrack can save you from using Excel to manage your grants, contact us for a demonstration.


(Hat tip to Robert Weiner for the title.)



Author: Dahna Goldstein
January 28, 2013, 10:41 AM

Bad News for Nonprofits - Foundation Giving Lost Ground in 2011

Bad news for nonprofits.  A report just released by the Foundation Center indicates that while foundation giving totaled $46.9 billion in 2011 (a slight increase from the previous year), inflation-adjusted foundation giving actually decreased.  Highlighting just how big the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is, the report suggests that giving by foundation has decreased 3% (on an inflation-adjusted basis), if the Gates Foundation is excluded from the mix.

A few highlights (or maybe lowlights) from the report:

  • Foundation assets increased slightly to $646.1 billion, but that's still well shy of the pre-recession high of $682.2 billion;
  • The financial market fluctuations and uncertainties of 2011 continued to take a toll on foundation assets; the report predicts that trend is likely to continue this year, which is less than encouraging for grantseekers;
  • Foundation giving overall is likely to remain flat in 2012;
  • The report anticipates a slight increase in giving for 2013 (though is cautious about making predictions beyond this year, given recent economic turmoil and the unpredictability of global markets that can impact foundation assets.

Despite all of the financial gloominess, 44% of foundations indicated that they expected to increase their giving next year.

Anticipated change in foundation giving 2012

So what's a nonprofit to do with this less-than-encouraging news?

  • Maintain and manage relationships with current funders.  Funder relationships require care and feeding.  Keeping in close touch with your current funders can help facilitate the process of renewed funding, or can provide key information that may impact your fundraising strategy (which may sometimes mean you find out that they're planning to shift their funding priorities, but it's better to find out sooner than later);
  • Don't assume increased grant funding for next year.  Budget for consistent, or possibly decreased, funding from foundation sources;
  • Continue to diversify your funding sources (which is always a good idea);
  • Start cultivating relationships with potential new funders now.  It's a process that takes a while.  Don't wait until you're desperate for a new funding source to start building new relationships.

What do you think?  How will your organization deal with this less than optimistic forecast?

Click me

Image source: Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates, 2012, Foundation Center

Author: Dahna Goldstein
June 07, 2012, 12:43 PM

The State of Grantseeking - Spring 2012

state of grantseeking spring 2012

PhilanTech and GrantStation are pleased to announce the release of the State of Grantseeking Spring 2012 Report.

Ongoing declines in government and other funding and the resulting decreases in fundraising staff and resources continue to challenge grantseekers.  The 812 survey respondents indicated that the size and number of grants awarded are not keeping pace with the increased demands for their services.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Most organizations applied for the same number or more grants, and increased efforts resulted in more grants for 31% of respondents, an improvement of 5% since the last survey.
  • The average size of grants increased from the same period last year.
  • Larger organizations struggled more with economic conditions, whereas smaller organizations continue to struggle more with the mechanics of grantseeking.
  • Despite ongoing reductions in government grants and increased competition for all types of grants, 78% of respondents felt optimistic that their grant funding would increase or continue at the same level for the next six months.  This represents a slight decrease in optimistic responses since the Fall 2011 survey.

The survey was open in February and March 2012.  While nonprofit organizations of all sizes responded to the survey, the majority could be considered small to mid-sized organizations:

  • 43% had one to five staff members.
  • Over half (63%) had budgets under $1,000,000.

The next State of Grantseeking survey will be conducted starting in August 2012.

Download the full State of Grantseeking Report.
Author: Dahna Goldstein
May 10, 2012, 11:36 AM

State of Grantseeking for Health Care Organizations

Health Care organizations that responded to the State of Grantseeking survey receive more grants from private and community foundations than from any other grant source.

The average larges grant for health care organizations was over twice as large as the average largest grant across all organization types - $760,400 versus $312,000 for all organizations, which may be attributable in part to the size of the organizations. 26% of health care respondent organizations had over 200 employees.

Other key statistics about health organizations from the State of Grantseeking:

  • Over half of health care focused organizations submitted between 3 and 10 requests and over 50% also received between 3 and 10 awards;

  • 65% of health care organizations received the same number or more grants that they had in the first six months of 2010

  • Health care organizations cited increased competition for grant dollars and difficulty finding funders who are a good fit as their top grantseeking challenges

healt care largest funding source


Download the Health Care Organizations State of Grantseeking Fact Sheet to read the rest of the results.

Author: Dahna Goldstein
March 21, 2012, 03:17 PM

State of Grantseeking in Education Nonprofit Organizations

Education nonprofit organizations in the Fall 2011 State of Grantseeking report received more grant funding from private foundations than other sources of grant funding (69%) and were less likely to receive grants from Federal (30% vs. 45%) and State governments (42% vs. 50%). Educational institutions, conversely, were more likely to receive State and Federal grant awards (see the State of Grantseeking in Educational Institutions fact sheet. Note: educational institutions include colleges and universities, where education nonprofit organizations are nonprofits that are focused on education. There is also a State of Grantseeking in All Educational Organizations fact sheet that summarizes aggregate information for both types of education organizations, but the differences are significant enough to warrant separate fact sheets as well).

The average largest grant for education nonprofit organizations was $195,291, lower than the $312,000 average largest grant across all organization types.

Other key statistics about education organizations from the State of Grantseeking survey:

  • 43% submitted only 1 or 2 grant requests in the first six months of 2011

  • 62% received the same number, or more, grants than in the same period in 2010

  • Education organizations' greatest grantseeking challenges were the decline in available funding opportunities and increased competition. Education organizations also cited increased reporting requirements as a challenge.

    Non Profit Organizations

Download the Education Nonprofit Organizations State of Grantseeking Fact Sheet to read the rest of the results.

Author: Dahna Goldstein
March 18, 2012, 03:08 PM

State of Grantseeking in All Education Organizations

Like most organizations in the Fall 2011 State of Grantseeking survey, education organizations received more grant funding from private foundations than other sources of grant funding. Fifty percent also received Federal government grants (vs. 45% of all organizations in the survey) and 56% received state government grants (compared to 50% across all organizations).

Note: educational institutions include colleges and universities, where education nonprofit organizations are nonprofits that are focused on education. Please see the State of Grantseeking in Educational Institutions and State of Grantseeking in Education Nonprofits fact sheets for details about each type of organization's grantseeking activities.

The average largest grant for all education organizations was $398,144, higher than the $312,000 average largest grant across all organization types.

Other key statistics about education organizations from the State of Grantseeking survey:

  • 44% submitted 3 to 10 grant requests in the first six months of 2011

  • 35% received 1 or 2 grant awards

  • Education organizations' greatest grantseeking challenges were the reductions in State and Federal funding and the corresponding reduction in resources

    Education Grant Requests

Download the Education Organizations State of Grantseeking Fact Sheet to read the rest of the results.


Author: Dahna Goldstein
March 16, 2012, 10:26 AM

State of Grantseeking in Youth Development Organizations

Youth development organizations in the Fall 2011 State of Grantseeking report received more grant funding from community and corporate foundations and were less likely to receive Federal or State government grants than other organization types.

The average largest grant for youth development organizations was $191,560, lower than the $312,000 average largest grant across all organization types.

Other key statistics about youth development organizations from the State of Grantseeking survey:

  • 66% submitted six or more grant requests (compared to 53% across all organizations)

  • 52% were awarded 3 or more grants

  • Youth development organizations' greatest grantseeking challenges were reductions in staff time due to budget cuts and the reduction in grant award amounts

    Youth Development Largest Funding Source

Download the Youth Development Organizations State of Grantseeking Fact Sheet to read the rest of the results.



Author: Dahna Goldstein
March 15, 2012, 11:41 AM

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