Does an online grant management system create enough efficiencies to make it worth the investment? That’s a question we often hear. Let’s take a look at six timesavers that add up to a major advantage for grantmaking organizations.
Whenever you’re making the case for a tech investment in a nonprofit, questions about how much overhead is “too much” always arise. However, organizations often underestimate the efficiency they’ll gain, making their ROI assessments a little too conservative.
To help you understand the full impact, we’ll describe six ways grant management software can streamline your operations. Taken together, they can help your organization discover more time, which means more impact!
1. Reduced Data Entry
When you use paper applications or editable PDFs, data entry is inevitable. The only way you can track applicants and reviewers is to transfer the information into a spreadsheet or database. And if you have a home-grown legacy system, it’s often difficult to integrate with tools like CRMs or email marketing software - which means double the data entry.
That’s a lot of tedious work. This approach also increases the probability of human error.
With a grant management system, the applicant does the data entry for you - once. They input their own information into a single database that’s accessible to the administrator and reviewers. You can also generate standard and custom reports from this same database.
2. Automated Communications
Think about the number of emails you send to your applicants during a single grant cycle. Upcoming deadlines, receipt confirmations, status updates, offer or rejection letters, additional information requests, surveys, and more.
Creating and sending emails to applicants takes time, especially if you’re sending them individually.
An online grant system allows you to create templates for common communications, merge data, and assign a delivery schedule. Plus, just like a CRM, they’re all captured in the system, so you can quickly see which messages an applicant has received and if they replied. No need to comb through your email account to make sure.
3. Fewer Applicant Questions
You try to make your application as clear as possible for grant applicants. But there are inevitably questions. And as any grantmaker will attest, those repetitive questions can take up a lot of time - not just from responding, but being distracted from the task at hand.
However, an online application form can cut these down considerably. With deadline timers, qualifying quizzes, conditional logic, word counts, multi-media instructions, and email or text confirmations, applicants never have to second-guess their submission. And that means fewer unnecessary interruptions for your staff.
4. Data All in One Place
Grant applications have a lot of moving parts, and it can be hard to juggle for both applicants and reviewers. When data is coming from multiple places and needs to be emailed, saved, printed, uploaded, or downloaded by different people, there are bound to be files lost or overlooked. Plus, all this coordination takes up valuable time.
Grant management software removes this problem by offering a single, inclusive platform. Applicants, reviewers, and administrators have their own login, where they can see everything relevant to their role. There’s no need to email anything because it’s all saved in one place. Plus, all communications stay within the platform, from reviewer comments to applicant questions.
5. Ease of Review
When your reviewers are slowed down by disorganized applications or unclear instructions, your entire grant schedule is in jeopardy. And, just like applicant questions, your staff can be easily sidetracked by frequent questions from reviewers.
By using a grant management system, reviewers can access all their assignments, complete their review, communicate with you and the team, and see the status of the grant program. You can also speed up their process by providing a side-by-side view of the application and the scorecard fields. They won’t have to print the documents for reference or toggle between screens to remember details about the application.
6. Instant Reports
Even the best spreadsheet or database can’t give you a sense of where you stand at a glance. It takes time to collate information, extract for data analysis, and then produce charts and graphs for Board presentations.
However, with an online grant system, you can access clean, easy-to-read data views with helpful sorting and filtering options. Your staff can create visual dashboards and reports showing the key performance metrics and data points you need to see every day. Open up the software, and it’s right there, ready for you to customize.
Think about the minutes you can shave off your current process with these tools and features. Then, add them up! Your staff is now freed up for more outreach, more analysis of your community’s needs, more fundraising for greater impact… the list goes on. A grant management system can open up time you didn’t realize you had.