Grant managers are some of the least-sung of the unsung heroes of the nonprofit world. On top of the task of producing the magical and masterful writing that goes into getting a grant, they’re mired in the dark recesses of research and record-keeping.
That part of grant management, to (mis)quote an old adage, “is a tedious job, but somebody’s gotta do it.” Why not let that “somebody” be software?
Grant management software for nonprofits can free up your grant manager from the tasks that take up way too much time. Or handily support staff members who do the grant work without having a dedicated grant manager. And they’re lifesavers in the case of a grant manager leaving, lifelines for new managers to tether themselves to during the transition.
WHAT IS GRANT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR NONPROFITS?
Grant management software is a tool that helps you stay organized throughout the grant writing lifecycle.
Depending on the software, you can use it as the central hub for every stage of the process. Many have built-in grant-seeking features to help you find the ones that your organization qualifies for.
But they’re well known for working as sophisticated spreadsheets that keep you and your grant writing team on track to meet all deadlines and submit all appropriate documents.
With the right platform, you can:
- Flag grants that would be a great fit for your nonprofit
- Mark the grants you’ve already applied to
- Monitor the status of grants you’ve submitted proposals for
- Check the grants your nonprofit has already been awarded
- Track how the awarded funds were spent
WHEN IS IT TIME TO LOOK INTO GRANT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR NONPROFITS?
You love your trusty spreadsheets, but be honest — isn’t the whole thing just getting a bit unwieldy?
There are a few things to consider when deciding if grant management software is right for your nonprofit.
- Time savings: Consider how many hours a month you spend searching through files looking for information about the grants your organization applied for last year. Or five years ago. Or how much time you spend researching information for your board about what grants you’ve applied for and where they are in the process. Or reminding colleagues about deadlines they need to meet so grant applications can be submitted properly and on time. If this is a pain point for you, grant management software is the way to go.
- Growth: If your organization applies for and/or receives 12 or more grants a year, grant management software can help keep things organized to ensure nothing is missed and everything is submitted on time.
Other things to think about:
- Is your grant manager nearing retirement? Or likely to switch jobs?
- Do multiple people need access to your grant data?
- Have you ever missed a grant deadline or other important deliverable date? That is money lost.
Read on if you’re ready to learn more about grant management software for nonprofits. But also register for our free and 100 percent pressure-free demo, “Grant Management for Grantseekers With Granthub.
SPREADSHEETS VS. GRANT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR NONPROFITS
So, back to those spreadsheets. They’re hard to let go of, we know. But here are some reasons why you should.
5 reasons you should swap your spreadsheets for grant management software:
- Limited organizational capacity. Spreadsheets aren’t designed to keep historical funder information at your fingertips. And entering it fresh every time you’re looking to make a grant request just means more hours doing data entry and also running the risk of retaining outdated information. A grant management system has one, easily accessed place to store information about your past interactions with funders, making it easier for the grant manager to stay up to date and be best prepared to address past and potential funders.
- Unwieldy, especially as your files grow. Spreadsheets start out deceptively simple — just a few columns for each of your handful of potential grants and funders. But as things get more complex and you’re dealing with more entities, they can get out of hand as you keep track not only of deadlines but often multiple steps that need to be taken and information shared both before and after a grant is awarded.
And when multiple staff members are involved, sharing info quickly and consistently is virtually impossible with spreadsheets.
A grant management software system will allow you to track critical data on each funding opportunity — such as amount requested, amount awarded, proposal deadline, decision date, grant term, funding program category and current status. You also should be able to collaborate and work with your entire team, having everyone manage the tasks they are assigned.
- No reminders. Spreadsheets are great for analyzing data, performing complicated calculations or creating pivot tables. But not so much for sending automatic email reminders that keep you and your team on track — an important detail when one little email might be all that stands between you and a missed grant proposal deadline or follow-up.
- No capacity to store documents. Spreadsheets can give you a snapshot of what information is available in pertinent documents, but they don’t store the documents for you. Grant management software for nonprofits can organize documents according to task, grant and funder, make regular updates easy and make all documents easily accessible to anyone who needs them.
- Analysis and reporting take extra steps, extra time. Analyzing data stored on spreadsheets means creating separate reports, whereas grant management software can be set up to create and run those reports for you, quickly and accurately. It takes about the same amount of time to enter information into a grant management system as it does to enter it into your spreadsheet. But only the grant management system has the capacity to drill down into the data and put specific information at your fingertips almost instantaneously.
Imagine the time it would take to answer questions like who are your top funders for a particular program, what’s your win percentage based on the amount requested or on number submitted or how many grant deadlines you have coming up next quarter and what they are — if all you could do is scour your data via spreadsheets.
UNDERSTANDING THE INVESTMENT IN GRANT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR NONPROFITS
It’s an investment, no doubt. And spreadsheets are free or inexpensive. And nonprofits always have to weigh the cost of any investment against taking that money away from programs.
It might be easy to consider it a “waste” of resources to invest in a grant management system. But if you take the time to really calculate how many staff hours can be saved by investing in the system and how much more money can come in through grants if the process was efficient and streamlined, you’ll find that in the long run, the system will free up more resources to help you meet your mission.
CAN SMALL NONPROFITS BENEFIT FROM GRANT WRITING MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE?
Absolutely! Whether your nonprofit is large or small, if grant writing is a prioritized part of your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts, then finding a software is a great idea.
The grant writing process is the same no matter the size of your nonprofit. That means that you’re still required to track deadlines, submit the same documents, and keep up with how the funds were allocated so you can loop the grant makers in.
And traditional Excel spreadsheets were not created to help grant writers do all of those steps!
So, if your nonprofit does prioritize grant writing, then we highly suggest searching for a great software for you and your team.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN RESEARCHING GRANT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE FOR NONPROFITS:
And just what are you supposed to be on the lookout for if you’re investing in a grant writing management software?
Every nonprofit is different, which means the way they conduct their grant writing process is different. To find the best one for your team, be sure to look internally not externally.
Rather than finding software that other nonprofits use and investing in them solely off of that premise, survey your team to determine what they need to do their jobs even better.
Overall, many nonprofits do search for these features when looking into a grant management tool:
1. Grant Seeking Capabilities
Before any proposal writing can take place, you have to find the right grant opportunities. This can often feel exhausting and overwhelming. After all, many organizations dig and search for hours before finding one or two possibilities.
Many platforms have a grant-seeking feature built right into the tool. So you can skip the brain-draining hours of Googling the exact right keywords to find the perfect opportunities for your nonprofit.
Certain features even have the capabilities to track what’s important to the funders, what projects they’ve funded in the past, and particular feedback the funders have given on how to submit a successful proposal to their organization. All of that trackable information is helpful when it comes to building stronger relationships with grantmakers. And as we know, forging relationships with grantmakers can do wonders for submitting amazing proposals that are awarded funds.
2. Tracking Software
The main feature of a grant management system is to actually manage relationships, tasks, deadlines, and requirements.
So, as you’re searching for the right tool, make sure it has this foundational feature! This is how you can keep track of all of your deadlines so you never miss due dates for proposals.
You should also be able to track your and your team’s progress throughout the life cycle of the project. Break down the process into bite-sized pieces and set mini-deadlines for them so you stay on top of the overall project.
With the right tracking software in your tool, there’s no having to “Control + F” for the right information like with a spreadsheet. That’s just part of the beauty of investing in the right grant management system.
3. Document Library
These tools are determined to make your job much easier. So many systems have created a catalog or library feature so you can create “grant proposal swipe files.”
Once you and your team write an incredible grant proposal that is successful for your organization, you’ll want to store it away. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel every single time you apply for a new grant opportunity.
Instead, pull from the successful proposal. Use elements of it that meet the requirements of new opportunities.
A document library or catalog can help make that process so much simpler. Rather than pouring through old grant proposals every time, you can store away small snippets within the library.
For each new grant proposal you write, you can easily search the library and pull the elements you need!
A document library also allows you to store away required documents for your nonprofit. The majority of grant opportunities require you to submit the same standard documents. You can keep them on hand within the document library so you don’t have to spend more time searching them down!
4. Grant Fundraising Analytics
Like most things within a nonprofit, reports and analytics allow you to monitor what’s working and what needs to be improved within your process.
With as many grants as you may send, you’ll want to know why some work and why some don’t. Analytics and reports are something your team won’t have access to by only using spreadsheets.
But with a grant management system, you get a better look at your efforts and results. And checking these analytics periodically will only help you secure more funding from grants in the future.
5. Service and Support
It’s something that many nonprofit grant writing teams may overlook. But it’s crucial because migrating even from spreadsheets to a grant writing management software takes work.
And, no matter what software you choose – even if it’s the easiest one ever – there’s still going to be a learning curve to using it.
That’s why service and support offers are so important. As you research what platforms might work for your nonprofit, don’t forget to check what kind of tech support they offer. Cross-examine that with what your team needs.
For example, does a software only offer chat support, but your team works best by having a representative on the phone to walk them through the steps?
Or does a software look fantastic, but they don’t offer data migration support, so you’re stuck manually inputting all of your grant data into the software by yourself?
Before taking the next step with any too, make sure you check for this feature first!
Ready to learn more about grant management software for nonprofits? Sign up here for our free and 100 percent pressure-free demo, “Grant Management for Grantseekers With Granthub.”