Invite-Only Proposals? Why Online Grantmaking Still Makes Sense

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If your foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, you may think, "why should we move our grantmaking process online?" or "Won't we then get flooded with unsolicited proposals?"

The short answer is no, you won't get flooded with unsolicited proposals.  Moving online doesn't mean changing your process from invite-only to unsolicited.  It doesn't mean opening a portal for every grantseeking nonprofits to approach your foundation.  You can still invite selected organizations - and only selected organizations - to apply.

Why, then, does it make sense to move your process online?  With an invite-only process, you can still get all of the benefits of streamlining your grantmaking with an online system:

  • It will save you time, and provide easier access to information.  With an online system, grantees enter information (everything from their organization and contact information to proposals and progress reports).  That information flows directly into a format that you can view and manipulate.  There's no need to re-enter grantee or applicant information.  And all relevant grant and grantee information is in one place, so you can easily view the foundation's whole history with a given grantee organization without having to look in different files (either paper files or virtual files, depending on what your organization is currently using).
  • Trustees can access information remotely.  I talk to a lot of family foundations that have trustees in different physical locations (from different offices to entirely different parts of the country -- and sometimes different countries).  With an online system, trustees can simply log into the system from wherever they are to view current grant, grantee, and proposal information.  That means that the foundation staff person (or the trustee who usually collects information) doesn't need to spend hours - or days! - putting together packets of information prior to board meetings for trustees to review.
  • The online process enables grantmakers to do things they haven't been able to do before (or at least haven't been able to do easily).  Tools like Word, Excel and Outlook are great for writing documents, creating spreadsheets and managing email, but they weren't designed to manage grants.  With an online grants management system, foundations benefit from features designed specifically with grantmakers in mind -- everything from the ability to view all information about a particular grantee in one place (their history with the foundation, proposals and reports they've submitted, contact information, etc.) to the ability to create board packs in a few button clicks.
  • It's easier for grantees.  With an online system, grantees can access information from anywhere at any time.  With online grant proposals, they don't need to print 6 copies of the application, their audited financials, 990s, and everything else required in the proposal packet and then FedEx it to you.  They can also log into the online system and see when their next progress report is due -- and even get an automated email reminder prior to the due date.  And with PhilanTrack, grantees can manage all of their grant information for all of their funders in one centralized online location (whether or not their other funders are using PhilanTrack), saving them even more time that they can dedicate to programs and services - helping your grant dollars go even further.

Several of our grantmaker clients don't accept unsolicited requests, and have benefitted greatly from moving their processes online, and inviting online proposals from pre-selected organizations. 

Are you considering switching from an offline grants management process to an online grants management system?  Sign up for a PhilanTrack for Foundations webinar, or contact us to see a demonstration and learn about how we can help.

 

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/manc/1427691715/
Author: Dahna Goldstein
January 24, 2013, 09:42 AM

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