If you've been thinking about whether or not grants management software is a worthwhile investment for your foundation, you may be weighing the cost and benefits of buying or licensing software versus just sticking with the status quo, whether that's using a spreadsheet to track applicants, getting proposals in on paper or via email, or something else.
Here are six signs that your foundation should invest in grants management software:
- Your grant documents are kept in binders or in filing cabinets. If your foundation has been accepting paper grant applications or applications via email that are then printed and stored, you may have binders or filing cabinets full of paper grant applications and progress reports. With paper copies of grant applications and progress, it can be difficult to find the information you need about your grantees when you need it. Do you find yourself flipping through piles of paper to find information? Or typing in – or copying and pasting - grantee contact information from applications so that you’re able to keep all of your grantee contact information in one place? Online grants management software will help you move your application and reporting processes into the cloud and store all grant- and grantee-related information in one centralized online location for easy access and so that you don’t have to manually enter any grant information.
- You have at least one board member who does not live in the same city as the foundation's office. You may even have staff members who work remotely. Or perhaps you like to work from home every now and then, or you think it would be nice to be able to access your grant information without having to go into the office. That’s where online grants management software comes in. Remote staff or board members can easily log into the grants management system to access any needed information. Whether you’re on a site visit or sitting at your kitchen table, all you need is a web browser and internet access to securely access all of your foundation’s grant information.
- The application packets you receive from grant applicants are more than an inch thick. Or on paper altogether. Think of the trees! Many foundations still ask their grant applicants to submit many paper copies of grant applications so that board packets can be compiled. Increasingly, however, board members, particularly those who are next generation family members, prefer to access information online, rather than paper copies in the mail. With online grants management software, applicants only need to enter information once, and everyone at the foundation who needs to read or review an application can easily do so.
- It takes you hours or days to compile information on the grants awarded by your foundation in the past year or two. How well is your foundation meeting its mission? You want to know. Your board wants to know. How do you find out? You see what your grantees are doing with your granted funds that help pursue your mission. With paper or email applications, you might spend hours or days trying to find that information by looking in different documents and extracting pieces of information to try to put together a comprehensive picture. With online grant management software, you can collect quantitative information from grantees and easily display visualizations of the outcomes your grant dollars are achieving, and you can compile narrative information at a couple of button clicks to help tell the stories of your grants, rather than spending copious amounts of time manually aggregating that information.
- Producing a board book requires lots of copying and pasting, or making many copies. Putting together a board book can take a day or more. It requires compiling information from many different documents, then making copies of each board member, and putting those copies in the mail. Think of all of the time you can save – not to mention the better information you can provide – by compiling a board book in a matter of minutes by clicking a few buttons. What if you have a board member or two who still prefer to get board books on paper? You can still print the board book and send it to those board members while your other board members access their information online. Everyone is able to look at the same thing at the same time, and you’re able to provide richer information with much less effort.
- You ask for the same documents from grantees each time they apply, even though you already have copies of those documents somewhere in your files. Most foundations ask their applicants to submit a copy of their 501(c)(3) determination letter, their audited financials, and other information. That’s a good practice. But what happens to those documents once they’ve been submitted? Do you ask your applicants to submit the same documents each time they apply for a grant, even if you’ve funded them before and even if you have requested those documents before? With an online grants management system, you can store grantee-uploaded documents so that you can easily access documents submitted last year or for a prior grant application, and you don’t have to require your applicants to keep re-submitting the same information.
You might think, “but wait! It doesn’t cost my foundation anything to get grant applications in the mail, or by email, and grants management software will cost my foundation money!” Yes, there is a licensing cost to grants management software, but there are time costs to everything listed above – not only for your foundation, but also for your grantees. Did you know that 13% of every foundation grant dollar is spent administering the grants (Center for Effective Philanthropy)? While only 1.5% of that cost is borne by the foundation, 11.5% is borne by your grantees. Think about how much further your grant dollars will go towards meeting your mission and your grantees’ missions by helping your grantees apply to your foundation more easily, without having to produce multiple paper copies or re-enter information unnecessarily each time they submit a new grant application.
Do you think your foundation may be ready for grants management software? See how PhilanTrack can help streamline your grants management processes.
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