Corporations all around the globe increasingly play a transformative role in society. The old fashioned practice of just writing a cheque for a good cause is not enough anymore. Today's brands must espouse and follow through on their stated values.
Rethinking their role in today's world leads organizations to create corporate foundations. These foundations have transformed into strategic and impactful drivers of social change over the past years. Yet, corporate foundations have many challenges to overcome.
One of the biggest is the ever-increasing complexity of social impact programs that must align with the foundation's values, combined with the need to meet disbursement quotas. A software solution to manage your grantmaking can help you manage this complexity and live up to your purpose while supporting impactful projects.
Continue reading to learn how your corporate foundation can benefit from a grant management tool.
How can a grant management solution help with the lack of funding
Ask any grant manager what their biggest challenge is, and they will tell you without thinking twice: lack of funding. According to the Game Changers: Corporate Foundations in a Changing World survey, this is the most common concern among Corporate Foundations CEOs. Many organizations also suffer from a lack of buy-in from the parent company.
Nowadays, giving more by itself does not satisfy the critics—the more companies donate, the more society expects things from them. If not impossible, executives find it hard to justify charitable expenditures in terms of bottom-line benefits. Furthermore, a corporation may not have the capacity to budget consistent amounts for corporate giving in both good and bad years. Eventually, boards cut CSR project budgets, impacting foundations' work.
But one might argue that the main challenge of corporate foundations is not lack of funding but how to allocate the budget. The lack of internal tracking and the difficulties of measuring the social impact of activities have led organizations to poor decision-making.
Why is a grant management solution important for Impact Measurement?
Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) goes hand in hand with having sustainable and healthy financing. Corporate foundations that understand and demonstrate their short-term and long-term impact can continually filter the best grantees to focus on the areas where their expertise, experience, and resources are most effective. But to aim for a high social impact, these foundations must have the right tools to measure results.
Yet, it is rare that corporate foundations give priority to these tools. They focus their interest on free cloud-based programs and often don't match corporate foundation activities. They primarily based their choice on price or lack thereof. But what many foundations' CEOs haven't realized yet is that the so-called "free tools" actually cost a lot of money.
Often, the staff is not given the proper training on using the free software, and there are no adequate workflows established. It is not a problem in the corporate foundation industry alone. Just recently, The Guardian reported on an excel error that caused the loss of 16,000 test results. It shows that a free, simple-to-use tool might not be that simple, nor that free.
What should you expect from grant management software?
The corporate giving and grant management process can be rather complex. Even those grantmakers with years of experience can find themselves overwhelmed with the number of applicants and multiple people evolved in the decision-making process.
That is why grant management software is so essential: grant managers can be on top of everything and avoid wasting money. An excellent corporate giving software should streamline your grant-making operations and measure your giving efforts by removing any walls a foundation might encounter when giving back to society.
Optimy's flexible and user-friendly tool, for example, allows you to automatically sort out the incoming applications based on whatever criteria you chose, so you can select the right grantees and have a more significant ROI. And by showcasing the impact of your foundation's corporate giving activities with our easy reporting tools, you can ensure support from the parent company and board members. Furthermore, Optimy also helps you to allocate and track all of your projects' budgets quickly. This way, you stay on top of your outcomes and maintain control of all your costs.
In summary, the right grant project management software will empower you with time, data, and resources to amplify your corporate social impact.
13 features a good grant management solution should have:
Online Submission Platform: You can build a flexible and customizable submission platform to collect applications digitally.
Smart forms: The structure of questionnaires counts several parts, so grant seekers get different questions depending on their previous answers.
Automatic filtering and scoring: Automating the process of reviewing applications is vital to save time and focus on applications that match your criteria.
Data Import: A good grant management tool allows you to import previous data into the platform, such as contacts, requests, and Excel files.
Friendly Dashboard: An interactive and easy-to-use interface to quickly find the essential information at first glance.
Contact management: Life is easier when you can centralize, organize, and manage all contact in one place; thus, your CSR tool should allow you to do so.
Automatic answer: Sending a manual message to every applicant can be tiring. A good grant management solution should automatically send replies to grant seekers who don't meet your criteria.
Team Management: You can increase your efficiency by creating different team roles and delegating responsibilities to each of them.
Automated workflows: Design and set up automated workflows to organize the follow-up of your projects. This feature can also be helpful to create tasks for team members automatically.
Budget tracking: Staying on top of your outcomes and maintaining control of your expenses is for sure important when managing grant-making projects. With this functionality, you can overview how much money has been allocated for each task and make sure you are within your budget.
Payment schedule: Keeping up with payments of your grant-making activities can be tricky. But the process can be painless with good grant management software. This feature allows you to manage and keep track of all your payments easily.
Charts: It is essential to make all the data inside of the tool understandable. The charts feature can help make your report more data-driven but still quick to read and understand.
Data export: Not all people involved in your grant-making workflow will be using the grant management software. So it is vital to download and share documents with non-users, such as board members and externals.
Security: For your safety, the tool should be able to scan files for viruses before users download them.