Streamlining Grant Processes For A Community Foundation Through Self-Serve Portals And Online Tracking

The Company:

One of the largest community foundations in the nation, this organization issued more than 5,000 grants annually, with nonprofit organizations submitting 1,400 detailed grant applications. The company then awarded competitive grants to achieve specific strategic goals, but the actual impact was not tracked.

The Problem:

Managing the high volume of grants also represented a tactical burden since applications were only received on paper. The foundation staff then had to rekey over 16,000 pages of applications containing narratives, financial data, demographic data, project goals and metrics, etc., into its system since the key data was not available any other way.

This process resulted in numerous obstacles, including:

  • Questionable data integrity and unavoidable human error in manually rekeying a high volume of grant applications
  • Significant clerical workload
  • Delays in evaluating grant applications
  • Staff forced to maintain data outside the system

“Due to limitations of the current software, only partial data could be captured in our system. In fact, much of the critical information on each grant application could only be found in a paper file.”

The Solution:

The organization’s goals for the new system included powerful functionality to support all organizational work, a system that would be intuitive and easy to use, one-time only data entry, easy to capture and retrieve relevant information and analysis, and potential integration of external information. The organization sought to leverage technology to free up employees’ time to do more of the work they love. The solution was an integrated best of breed system – commercial applications for finance and donor management (CRM) plus custom software for grants management. A critical component: web portals for applicant, grantee, and donor access.

Project timeline:

Commercial software:

  • Requirements, RFP, proposal evaluation and vendor selection: five months
  • Implementation:
    • Finance application: four months
    • Donor management/CRM application: six months

Custom software:

  • Requirements, RFP, proposal evaluation and vendor selection: five months
  • Design/Build / Test / Train / Launch: twelve months.

The Impact:

The project sponsor stated, “The web portals are amazing! The data-entry burden and its accompanying errors were eliminated. All the rich data missing from the old system is now available for reports and analysis. Plus, our staff feels that the new system was really designed to help them.”