5 Advantages of Grants Management Software
The person who coined the term “cat herding” may have been a grants manager.
From applications to reviews to reporting, there are a lot of moving parts to a funding program. And while there is a lot you can do with a spreadsheet and an email program, it doesn’t take long before the cats begin to scamper away.
Whether your grantmaking organization is managing one funding program or a dozen, the right grants management software can save you time and improve compliance through streamlined processes, intuitive reporting, and built-in due diligence.
Here are five ways grants management software can help you save time and better manage your funding programs.
1. Simplify Your Grant Information
Even when you are being intentional about the information you ask your grantees as part of the funding process, there is still a lot of information to corral. Digging through different folders and files for the names of decision-makers, impact areas, diversity and equity metrics, and previous reports for each grantee takes time. It can also increase the chance of not having the most recent version of that information. One of the primary benefits of grants management software is creating a single source of truth for everything related to a grant program.
With grant applications that automatically populate your grants management system, the information flows seamlessly without manual entry. You remove an extra step in the process and improve the accuracy and completeness of the data with integrated applications.
There are also a variety of ways information can come to you about your grants and grantees. From reports in a PDF to emails letting you know of a staff change, storing information in a grants management system gives everyone access to the information who needs it—the data is not tied up in one person’s email or cloud storage. You can also easily see the last time the information was updated to verify it’s the most current version.
2. Manage Your Entire Grant Lifecycle Efficiently
Quickly see what is happening with an individual grant—what applications you’ve received, where reviews are, and what documentation might be missing—and be able to take appropriate next steps without a flurry of emails.
As the grants manager, you probably have a good understanding of where different applications are in the process. But instead of having to sort through emails or spreadsheets to get the latest information to your Executive Director or CFO, imagine having a dashboard at your fingertips where you can easily see—and share—that information. A grants management system makes it easy to keep track of where different grants are in the cycle.
Another advantage of grants management software is helping you efficiently manage your grant process through reminders, both internally and externally. With a system to help you facilitate application reviews, you can use your grants management software to schedule reminders for when reviews are ready to move to the next stage. You can also schedule reminders for your grantees, letting them know when reporting or other required information is due. This frees up your to-do list—and brain space—to focus on important tasks that improve your grantee experience.
3. Use Data to Clearly Convey Impact
Your impact story is multi-dimensional, so your reporting capabilities should be as well.
With grants management software, you can create customizable dashboards so you can easily see how you are tracking toward your goals. These dashboards can tell you at a glance your funding history by program area and the number of applications you’ve received in a given period. If your organization is working to increase first-time applications, for example, you can keep that chart front-and-center on your dashboard so you know your progress at any given time.
Grantmakers have reporting needs that can be complex to build in a spreadsheet, such as deferred payments and managing overlapping grant cycles. With grants management software, you can choose from built-in reports and columns that tell you the information you need to know, without worrying about breaking a formula every time you enter information.
And not only will you have the reports, charts, and lists you need to make data-driven decisions, you can schedule reports for regular updates. Your grant management software can produce Board-ready reports that you can forward to your leadership, so they can see the impact your organization is making.
4. Ensure Compliance with Systematized Due Diligence
As a grantmaking organization, you have access to sensitive information about nonprofit programs and budgets. It’s important that you have systems in place to keep that information safe and secure. Incorporate your internal controls and processes into your grants management system to make sure your staff and your grantees understand what is expected of them.
By using your grants management software as a single source of truth for your grantmaking, you don’t have to wonder where information is stored. You can attach documentation for easy reference, such as reporting your grantees submitted or sample Board packets they provided during the application process. When you require information to be kept in specific places within your GMS, you’ll know what fields can be pulled into public-facing communication and which ones might contain sensitive information.
Establishing partnerships and integrations with other software platforms you use regularly can help keep your data updated and complete. Some grants management platforms integration with platforms such as Candid to automatically pull in general information about the nonprofit applying for the grant. This saves time for both the grantee and your team.
Another way your grants management system can help with compliance is by breaking down silos in your organization. Instead of information living on one staff member’s computer, you provide access to people on your team so they can review progress, data, and contact information as needed. And by choosing a cloud-based grants management system, those people can access that information from anywhere, such as while they are on site visits or working in a hybrid or remote environment.
5. Create a Streamlined Experience for Your Grantees
The advantages of grants management software not only help you as a funder, but it can also improve the experience of nonprofits applying for your grants. With a modern GMS, you can make the application as well as your communication, payment, and reporting processes simple and intuitive for grantees.
Because your application feeds directly into your grants management system, you always have the most updated information about your grantees and potential grantees. You can create a separate form for those returning grantees so they can have a more streamlined application.
Your grants management system also enables you to manage all your communication through one system, including reminders. You can create templates to save time and create consistency across your communication. It also helps your grantees see the reporting requirements, understand what they still need to provide, and submit any additional information or reporting. As the funder, you can see where payments are in the process, helping you stay on top of and communicate to grantees when they can expect their next check.
Prioritize the Advantages of Grants Management Software for Your Organization
Not all benefits of grants management software will resonate the same with your organization. Spend some time understanding what is most likely to help you reach your impact goals.
Because technology will change as will the needs of your community, your grantmaking will likely need to evolve as well. Think through the capabilities you will need not only today but also 12 months and three years in the future.
- Do you want to increase the number of grant programs you offer? Then the ability to manage multiple grant applications that ask for different information will be important.
- Are you looking at incorporating more participatory grantmaking principles? If so, you will need a robust and intuitive reviewer portal.
- Will you be expanding your focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion? Then you will want strong reporting capabilities to make sure you are meeting your goals and reaching the communities you want to serve.
Also, spend time with those who currently use your grantmaking processes and learn what is valuable to them. Perhaps your grants manager is wearing multiple hats and is focused on creating a streamlined process where notifications are automatic and reports are scheduled.
There are a number of advantages of grants management software for funders, but not all are valuable to you and your organization. Create a checklist to help you prioritize the ones that are most relevant to you as a grantmaker.
If you are thinking about adding a grants management system to your funding organization, check out our buyer’s guide for more information on how to identify the functionality you need and get buy-in from your leadership.
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