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Grant Management

Grants makers, what do you do?

by Ornella Schillaci
July 5, 2021 - Reading time: 4min
Grants makers, what do you do?

Grant makers are philanthropists, right? But it’s not always the case. You think that grant funders are people responsible for writing grants. And this position is closely linked to philanthropy. So obviously, it’s easy to think that they are mostly philanthropists.

Can you imagine, though, what this job involves, for real? The funds managed by grant makers can be quite weighty. It is rather tedious to deal with grants throughout a certain period of time. The tasks are numerous. Someone has to keep track of budgets data visualization. But also of data collection on grant applications. And how does he do that, you might ask? Well, often, the only solution is to use multiple spreadsheets. Not very efficient, though.

Plus, this is not the end of the tasks. There are also those constant discussions with the grants management team. Where grantees and stakeholders also have a huge role. So we would say that this job involves a lot of peak moments throughout the year. These periods are quite intense. The routine is rather chaotic. Whether you have to look for various documents, or organize folders, you, as grant maker, have stuff to do. Luckily, there are tools that help you manage everything in a single platform. Not to mention that you can use it internally and that it is very easy-to-use. Yes, we’re talking about Optimy.

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In the grant maker’s shoes

You go to the office and check your schedule for the day. There is a common team calendar. Quite practical. So you can see everything that takes place on that day from interviews to meetings, to notes. Then obviously, you check your email. So far, all good. You obviously need to reply to the most pressing emails (usually from grantees or budget reporting). And then it is necessary to label documents from grantees. There is also this urgent need to update some of them, and to reply to random questions from the grant team. One of the most time-consuming tasks is when you are asked to build a report. When you see the request coming in, you could say that the pressure is there to stay. It’s on for a roller coaster of dreary tasks. Updating the budget spreadsheet, tracking every expense, etc.

And then comes the time for application submission. It’s time to scan emails but also import them into Google Drive. Then to label them and link them to the spreadsheet with selection criteria.

Yes, these tasks seem repetitive. But it is mandatory to make sure that everything is handled. Parts of the job can be done remotely but for some, you are on site. Are we close?

Grants managers are now data scientists

Right, because you need to understand data to know what you can do with them. And then you have to be able to analyze them to ultimately improve your grant-making process.

There was a natural shift in this role. From an administrative and operational job, it is now more data-centered. Plus, you can now be included in the strategic decisions of the funds allocation. Process data or how long does it take you to put together the grant from planning to launching.

The funders need insight on various elements, via the grantmaking data. In this portfolio, you can learn more about the type of support needed, duration and other data. The goal is to help the foundation gain greater understanding of the who, what, where of their funding.

The times we live in demand an actual feel of commitment. A passionate will to know “how” to solve an issue. There is no escape from living the VUCA world. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It rings a bell, doesn’t it? The good news is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Your organization is not the only one looking for solutions. All you need to do is discover which approach matches your needs. Since you’re part of a funding organization, you need a process. A process will help you to manage different layers, create solutions easily, and see what’s new and what’s missing.

Nowadays, foundation professionals are leading the change. Grant processes are moving to more diversity, inclusion and equity.

Re-discover your role

Your role, your mission needs to match the needs of the moment. You need to be aware of what’s going on around you and to adapt. You’re combining different roles, you have various hats. But it’s not about your position or your job title. Because of a certain situation, you might need to adapt. Maybe to another behavior or start another project. Or maybe you need feedback on why a grant proposal got rejected. You are continuously adding and removing roles. Changing function. All that to match a specific need while keeping in mind your larger role within the organization.

Then again, there are a lot of CSR and social impact management tools that can help you save time… So you can do even more good!

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