Grants Managers Ask: Do I Even Need Grants Management Software?

05/03/2016

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Do I really need grants management software? When you get right down to it, what can grants management software do for me and my foundation?

These are great questions – questions every grantmaker who wants to make a greater impact should be asking. To be sure, you may find that new grants management software isn't a priority on your foundation's technology roadmap. That's a call only you and your team can make. But before you make that decision, make sure you know the lay of the land and explore your options.

To begin, if you are still tracking grants using Excel spreadsheets, you probably need a dedicated grants management system. If you are using a home-grown solution or a legacy system that hasn’t been updated in a few years, it’s time to look at modern solutions.

Grants management can be complicated. Even smaller grantmakers will find a grants management system useful. Successfully managing even a single grant is no small job. Often grants require multiple reviewers, multiple payouts, and require follow-up progress reporting. And grantmakers need to be able to access reports that show how well (or not) their grantmaking investments are performing. 

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you should take the leap, consider the benefits of adopting a grants management system:

  • Grants management software solutions help grantmakers tame their workflow. Software can automate many of the administrative tasks associated with grantmaking, freeing staff to concentrate on strategy, relationships, and opportunities otherwise lost inside an unruly grantmaking process.
  • Foundation staff will have more time to optimize their communications with applicants and grantees for the duration of the grant lifecycle.
  • Organizations have one-click-away access to their own grantmaking data (geographical, program area, funds awarded, and more), revealing insights that can revolutionize the way you think about making grants.
  • As user interfaces become more accessible, and mobile technology becomes commonplace, all foundation staff have easier access to the data they need, anytime and anywhere. Your staff want a 21st-century work structure – more flexibility to work from wherever they want, whenever. Grants management software allows you to keep your staff happy and productive.

In addition to these more practical benefits, grants management software allows you to keep pace with the push towards sector-wide transparency. These days, we expect information to be available any time and anywhere. Our workplaces, the marketplace, and our social spaces have become increasingly transparent and collaborative. We believe philanthropy should be no different! Modern grants management systems allow and even encourage funders to be transparent, accessible, and ultimately more connected to their grantees.

Transparency has long-term benefits. Opening an incoming and outgoing stream of programmatic data, evaluation data, and publicly available data allows foundations to collaborate better (with both their grantees and other foundations), create communities of shared learning, and strengthen credibility and public trust – all things that help you make a greater impact.

Grants management software is essential for foundations who want to keep pace with the evolving social sector. Not only will you increase efficiency in your office and develop and deepen relationships with your grantees, but you will also reap the benefits of adopting a culture transparency and accountability. Grants management software has the power to change the way you, and the rest of philanthropy, works – for the better. Still undecided? Read our complete Guide to Grants Management Software for more tips to help you choose the right grants management system for your foundation.

Click here for the complete guide.

Topics: Grantmaking

Written by Aaron Lester