September 8, 2020

4 Innovative Ways to Use Your Grant Reporting Data

Your organization's grant reporting is a goldmine of information. Are you taking full advantage of the insights embedded in the data - and the stories they tell? Learn how to get publicity for your organization, energize donors, and build community support - all by drawing from the reports you’ve already created.

Many grantmaking organizations prepare reports for their Board of Directors or executive leadership throughout the year. While their purpose is often limited to a standard review or program refinement, grant reporting has the potential to do much more. 

These reports can spark conversations, motivate donors, capture public attention, and encourage staff or volunteers. With all those positives, why wait for an annual report to connect with your stakeholders? 

Here are four innovative ways you can leverage your grant reporting - and some examples to inspire you.

1. Pitch a story about a compelling trend

How could you piggyback on a trending topic to demonstrate your organization’s relevance or impact? Look for opportunities where you can apply your grantmaking statistics to prove a point or expand on a solution.

For example, let’s say the Council on Foundations released a nationwide, multi-year study showing that community foundations aren’t doing enough outreach to minority-led organizations, which has led to decreased funding for critical needs. If your organization has been actively working on this issue, and your reports show a significant increase in minority-led applicants, you could pitch a story to relevant media outlets. The story would reference the larger study, share a chart or graph of your success, and provide strategies you’ve used to address the problem.

This approach is most effective when it’s timely. That’s why having a grant management system that allows staff to see insights in real-time is crucial. A dashboard with key performance indicators gives organizations a bird’s eye view of their programs every day.

2. Share program insights that matter to individual donors

To cultivate and retain major donors, staff must understand their motivations. Naturally, they care about your mission or they wouldn’t be considering your organization. But what is it that touches them on a personal level? And what are they most concerned about when it comes to operational effectiveness?

When you know the answers, your grantmaking reports are a great source for data, stories, and trends that instill confidence. For example, suppose a couple is considering a legacy gift to your organization in honor of their young son who passed from brain cancer. You could send a personal follow-up email after you’ve met to share information relevant to their interests and concerns.

  • What percentage of your cancer research funding goes to organizations working toward a cure for brain cancers? 
  • How many of your grants focus on childhood cancers?
  • How much funding went toward family support programs, like the ones they appreciated during their difficult time?

If you’re already tracking these statistics, it’s simple to pull them and include a donor impact report to include in your email message or thank you letter. If not, grant management software allows you to create customized reports based on any of the fields in your database.

3. Attract talented employees to your team 

Nonprofit and government organizations often face a hiring disadvantage when they’re in competition with private companies that offer higher salaries. But grantmakers have amazing stories that can attract top talent.

By pulling valuable nuggets from your existing grant reports, you can enhance your recruiting messages. Consider adding these to your job descriptions, an employment page on your website, or in the “about us” section on hiring websites like Indeed or LinkedIn.

  • Trends - For example, the increase in grants you’ve distributed compared to last year, diversity and inclusion initiatives, or success in hitting program goals.
  • Impact - Feature program snapshots with a combination of data and personal accounts pulled from your grant reports.
  • Culture - Share the results of any grantee satisfaction surveys to demonstrate how staff collaborates with important community changemakers.

These are all pieces you probably incorporate into your internal grantmaking reports or an annual report. Tap into them year-round to give your recruitment efforts a boost.

4. Create powerful, persuasive social media posts

Your marketing team would love to have compelling data and stories to tell in bite-sized pieces. This gets donors and volunteers interested by pulling back the curtain on your everyday operations. 

Fortunately, everything you need is often hiding in your grantmaking reports. What information could you pull that gets social media followers excited about what you do - and wanting to learn more? For example:

  • Statistics on the last grant-making cycle - How many grants did you distribute? What was the total funding? What’s the breakdown between the foundation’s areas of focus? How many are new grantees? You could divide these into separate posts, or share a chart.
  • Grantee updates - Rather than simply reporting the outcomes, share how things are going for a funded program, and how your grant has made a difference already.  Think of them as mini-successes. Design your grant progress reports to ask for this information, so it’s easy to lift.
  • Personal stories - While numbers are impressive, a video (or image/quote) from someone who benefited from a grantee program is more memorable. If you’re already preparing these for a Board report, just repurpose for social media.

Ready to put these ideas into practice? 

To make these ideas work, you need data that’s easy to sort, filter, and analyze. But most importantly, you need a way to see your key performance indicators every day, not just when you manually generate a report. With our grant management system, real-time dashboards and customizable reports make it easy for your team to spot insights quickly, so you can share them with the world. 


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