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November 29, 2022

How Grantmakers can Streamline the Grant Management Process

Hanna Middleton

Grant giving from one nonprofit organization to their nonprofit agency partners helps to drive communal change in dozens of social good areas. Historically, the nonprofit allocating funds to programs and agencies – known as the grantmaker – would base their funding on the need described by their agency partner – referred to as the grantseeker. This logic for funding programs is slowly changing. Grantmaking nonprofits are now taking a more strategic approach to fund programs and agencies. With a shift in which programs receive funding, so too comes a change in the overall grant management process.

Grantmaking nonprofit organizations over the years have faced numerous inefficiencies. These include paper trails, tracking grant expenses, the burden of reporting on investment success, and more. Luckily, with the right tools and processes, your grantmaking process can be smooth for all departments. Make grantmaking easy for your internal team, applicant evaluators, and agency partners.

Let's explore how to streamline the grant management process and gain strategic insights from Gary Goscenski and Bryn Bogemann at Perspectives Consulting Group.

Grant Management Starts with Intentional Investing

A significant shift in how grantmaking nonprofits allocate funds can be traced to the idea of intentional investing. As Gary Goscenski simply puts into an analogy, intentional investing "is like going to the grocery store and purchasing items off [a] list, knowing what you want to [make for the week]."

Intentional investing is when your organization goes into a grant-giving investment with certain results in mind. Perspectives Consulting says nonprofits are no longer asking partner agencies what they'd like funded. Now nonprofits intentionally seek out agency programs that align with the desired outcomes.

How can your nonprofit begin to look at grant giving through an intentional investing lens? Bryn Bogemann from Perspectives Consulting explains 3 steps:

  1.  Clearly identify the causes or desired goals that matter most to your organization.
  2.  Calculate what dollar figure would need to be raised to reach the impact level. This would be established in your impact goal.
  3.  Ask donors for the money to fund your desired cause or goals.

Knowing what programs donors' dollars will go toward changes how your grant process will look. Are you currently doing an open call for agencies' application requests? Instead, have agencies apply if their programs serve one of your desired goals.   

How to Make your Grant Application Align with Intentional Investing?

Are you moving away from an open-ended application process? Now is the time to restructure each grant application and who it is best suited for. Here are 4 request for proposal (RFP) types that support intentional investing:

  1. Issue-Specific RFPs mean funding is available for programs that serve a specific cause. i.e., reduce homelessness in a certain location.
  2. Metric-Specific RFPs seek out programs that will achieve a certain measurable outcome if funded. i.e., help a certain percentage of children reach their grade reading level.
  3. Programs and Services RFPs seek out specific programs they want to see in the community. i.e., a financial planning program is needed for those who recently immigrated to the USA.
  4. Collaborative RFPs ask partner agencies to work together to achieve a specified result.

Collect Grant Applications with Online RFPs

Before we review how to streamline your grant management process, first let's review some of the primary steps involved with the grant giving process from a grantmaker's perspective.

The Grant Giving Process for Grantmaking Nonprofits

Once your organization selects the RFP type that best suits your goals, consider how you will make your grant known. Grant management software – like Andar/360 Community Building Module - allows agencies to apply online easily. This software can streamline how your team collects and stores partner information.

Next, consider the right questions to ask agency partners during the application process. You want to find the right-fit partners that will meet your community impact goals. Using grant management technology such as Andar/360's Community Building Module to collect qualitative and quantitative data, applicable tax forms, and other necessary attachments will ease the intake process. All form fields answered by agency partners are automatically saved in your Andar/360 CRM for retrieval and review at a later time.  

Further, consider if you need your online application open to all agencies or if you want to make the funding opportunity open to a few select agency partners. With the right grant management tools, this optionality of who can apply should be standard.

How to Add Efficiencies to Grant Processing

Once grant applications are collected, evaluating each with a standardized scoring process is recommended. With grant management technology, you can set up a scoring criterion for each question type. Evaluators' online reviews are summarized easily in your database. Whether your internal team member or a volunteer evaluator does the grant application evaluation, having the assessment completed online will save you time in data entry.

Set up permissions so grant reviewers only have access to the applications they need to review. Remember, there could be sensitive information in agencies' grant applications. You should treat and store this information securely. With grant software, approving, issuing funds, and following up with agencies can all be completed efficiently for all stakeholders. Having information about your grantseeker in a single profile will make it easy once it is time for your finance department to issue the grant. Your finance team will simply review the profile and see the approved application if assigned by the evaluator. Here, they would see the designated grant amount. Your grant management software serves as a single source of truth for all team members.

Grant Management Impacts Multiple Departments Including Marketing, Community Impact Teams, Fundraising Teams and Finance Departments

Community impact teams, for example, can use the same grant management online portal used by agencies. Here, they apply for funding, but now request reporting feedback from agencies. Here, funded agencies will report on the impact they've made on the community, inform you if they've met your pre-determined program goals, and more. Impact results from funded agencies are then stored in your central CRM and can be referred to with the rest of your organization's reporting data.

Benefits of Grant Management Software

In all, having a dedicated grant management software program as the backbone of your grant allocation process will improve flow of information from all teams. The days of following the paper trail of applications are now behind us. Even as described here today, we've intentionally left out the dozens more whose hands touch the grantmaking process. For example, executives want to know who is applying for funding. Can you easily supply this information? Again, with centralized storage of all grant management processes and data, finding these figures is simple for your team to find.

If you'd like to learn how Andar/360's Community Building Module can streamline the grant management processes for your team, contact us today.

Blog Article by Hanna Middleton, Marketing Manager, Andar Software