From Cardboard to the Cloud: The Evolution of Grants Management Systems in an Era of Learning and Collaboration

By Adriana Jimenez on 04/13/2016

Adriana Jimenez is Director of Grants Management at the ASPCA (formerly grants manager at the Surdna Foundation) and also serves on the board of directors of the Grants Managers Network.  This post was first published on Transparency Talk, a project of the Foundation Center

The Surdna Foundation’s first grants management system was made of cardboard: it was a shoebox filled with index cards. (Next there was a custom-built system, followed by an off-the-shelf installed one). For decades this box served the foundation’s basic record-keeping needs, but technology – and transparency – eventually took precedence.

Now in its 99th year, the foundation has since ditched the cardboard for the cloud. In 2015 Surdna transferred its grantmaking database to the cloud-based grants management system, Fluxx.

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Grants Managing Up: How to Get Your Team to Say Yes to a New Grants Management System

By Eliza Smith on 04/08/2016

So, you’ve decided to start using grants management software or switch to a new grants management system at your foundation. Great! Your life is about to get a lot easier. But there’s a hurdle you need to clear before you take take the plunge: You need to convince your team that it’s the right move to make at the right time for your foundation. Pitching new technology can be daunting. We’ve been there. And making the case for implementing a new grants management system can be especially intimidating to those of us who don’t come from a tech background. That’s why we created this three-step plan to get your team to say “yes” to grants management software.

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Grantmakers: 3 Reasons Foundations Should Adopt New Technology Now

By Eliza Smith on 03/15/2016

Topics: Grantmakers
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Foundations: Are You Truly Listening or Just Hearing?

By Henry Berman, Exponent Philanthropy on 02/09/2016

Henry Berman is the CEO of Exponent Philanthropy

We live in a non-stop world of communications where we are constantly bombarded with messages. It can be difficult to sort through it all, to understand, to listen. Yet, I wonder if the challenge is in listening or hearing?

Topics: Grantmakers
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What My Two-Year-Old Taught Me About Grants Management

By Patrick Taylor on 01/12/2016

 The author, Patrick Taylor of the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and his daughter, Rose.

I am the lucky father of a wonderful two-year-old girl, Rose. She is silly, inquisitive, sweet, curious, playful, cuddly, and a lot of fun. She is also a tough cookie. Anyone who has dealt with a two-year-old knows what irrational balls of anger they can sometimes be. Being a father has taught me a lot of lessons that apply to the world of grants management. After all, in our role as grants managers, we are often in a compliance position, telling people what they can and cannot do, and trying to get sometimes reluctant people to go along with your program.

Here are some of the lessons that being a parent has taught me about  grants management.

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Strong Grantee Relationships Enable Critical Impact on Food Safety

By Aaron Lester on 12/15/2015

Do you endure sleepless nights fretting about the safety of the food you eat at restaurants? Me neither. That’s because we don’t have to.

Topics: Grantmakers
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Grantmaker Transparency: The Dawn of a New Age in Philanthropy

By Aaron Lester on 11/17/2015

"People tend to be private about love and money, and in philanthropy, it's both," says Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center.

It's only natural that, traditionally, philanthropy has unfolded behind closed doors. On the one hand, the freedom to make personal funding choices gives grantmakers the ability to stay above the fray, uninfluenced by both market and political pressures. On the other hand, it doesn't allow the public to understand, learn from, or think critically about philanthropy.

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The Mitchell Foundation Prepares for Rapid Growth with Fluxx

By Michelle Wohl on 11/13/2015

“Instilling best practices is easier when you’re still small,” says Marilu Hastings, vice president of The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s Sustainability Program. “That’s why I recommended to the foundation’s president, Katherine Lorenz, that we move to Fluxx now, before the foundation’s programs grow significantly in the next few years.”

Topics: Grantmakers
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Peery Foundation Dives into Data and Brings New Value to Grantees

By Aaron Lester on 10/15/2015

When the Peery Foundation decided it was time to look for a new grants management solution, the foundation was using three separate tools for their grants management and project management needs. "We were duplicating our efforts when it came to recording our grant information and it was not an efficient use of the team's time," says Jocelyn Rheem, program associate and project lead on the foundation’s search for a new grants management platform.

Topics: Data Grantmakers
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Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Best Practices for a Successful Grants Management Software Implementation

By Michelle Wohl on 10/13/2015

Anne McKissick, the director of grants management and information services at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is well-known in the philanthropic community, having spent decades successfully managing grant operations and information services for private foundations. She inherited GIFTS, the grants management platform, when she joined Sloan but she knew that it wouldn’t provide the features that she needed.

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