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Grant management system: how to choose the right one

by Ornella Schillaci

Most experienced grantmakers will tell you this: using 2-3 Excel sheets to manage a grant program is a real struggle with a doomed horizon. Because a successful grant strategy heavily relies on data, deadlines, reports and processes, you need a dedicated grant management system to help you along the way.

With a digital and online software accessible 24/7, your grant program gets a serious help. The question is: how to choose the best grant management system that really fits your needs?

List your needs

This seems obvious as a first step, but you need to clearly identify your needs. Several tips to do it efficiently:

  • survey your grant teams. They're the ones on the field and directly involved on your grant projects, so they might have a good indication of the tools they need.
  • draw your current grant process. When you have lots of grant projects going on, you don't really take the necessary time to have a helicopter view. Drawing your grant process will help you identify the actions your perform daily.
  • focus on your grant pain points. They have to be tangible points, such as "building a grant form", "gathering incoming email applications", etc.
  • think about the future. You need to imagine the different possible scenari: growing teams, more projects, more report requests...

Ideally, once you have gone through these steps, you will have a clear list of points. Your best grant management system will be the one to address them all.

The common grant pain points to address

Any grantmaking organization is different and has different needs. However, throughout our surveys, these are the recurring pain points we have identified, and that can help you make your list.

  • Grant forms: this is the heart of collecting the grant requests. Your forms have to be complete, clear, easy to use, and include all the criteria you need. Pay attention to the grant form editor when you test a grant management system: this editor should be intuitive, flexible and powerful.
  • Grant projects: to replace your usual spreadsheets, make sure your next grant management system includes a powerful project management engine (tasks, calendars, teams, report...).
  • Data processing: make sure your next system eases and streamlines data processing. A digital platform can help your centralize all your grant data, and automatically help you to filter, sort and select the right data.
  • Communications: your grant projects are living materials, and require an excellent commication with your teams and the project holders. Make sure your next grant management software includes a solid messaging center.
  • Security: take a look at what's included in your next grant management system in terms of security. Such features as GDPR compliance, secure hosting, regular backups, encryption and SSO, audit trails are key.
  • User interface: make sure your next system is going to be easy to understand and nice to use on a daily basis. The best indication for that is the feeling you have during a demo. Best softwares are the ones that appear "natural" to you from the first sight.
  • Budget and scalability: because your grant projects are constantly evolving, pay attention to the limits. Most systems enable scaling, but the cost is often huge. We advise you to select a grant management system with comfortable limits (number of projects, requests,...) and flexible enough to be able to scale anytime.

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We hope that helps!

And if you have come at this stage, we invite your to discover our own grant management system, Optimy. We have built our system to address all pain points of the grantmaking process, streamline them and automate the grant projects.
Interested to know more? Click here to get a free demo of our system.