Rants About Grants

International Grant Professionals Week - March 16-20, 2015

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Thu, Mar, 12, 2015 @ 13:03 PM

Herndon, VA.  March 12, 2015: Altum has partnered with the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) to announce the establishment of International Grant Professionals Week March 16-20, 2015. Grant Professionals Week recognizes and celebrates the work of grant professionals, who serve as administrators, consultants, managers, grant-makers and writers.

Every day, grant professionals work diligently, usually behind the scenes, to seek grant opportunities, administer projects and implement important programs for the benefit of society’s disadvantaged and underserved people. These talented professionals are dedicated to providing the highest standard of ethics, quality program development, thoughtful project implementation and wise financial stewardship. Often, those standards extend beyond the mere financial and include capacity support, long term solutions to challenges, fundraising assistance, expert project management, sustainable programming and so much more.

Grant professionals do much more than write grants – we are community leaders! We are managers, administrators, consultants, grant-makers, and we write grant proposals!” stated Debbie DiVirgilio, President of GPA.

Monday through Friday of Grant Professionals Week will address different aspects of the grant profession.

  • Monday, March 16th – Grant Profession Education & Awareness Day
  • Tuesday, March 17th – GPA Chapter and Community Event Day
  • Wednesday, March 18th – International Event Day
  • Thursday, March 19th – Thank you! Grant Entrepreneurs, Partners and Volunteer Day
  • Friday, March 20th – Grant Professionals Appreciation Day


Grant Professionals Week is an important part of the month of March 2015. The Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) has launched a campaign to bring awareness to the Grant Professional Certified (GPC) credential. March 1, 2015 will launch the “31 Days of GPC”, showcasing a daily video of a GPC explaining the importance of the credential and how it has benefitted his/her career. In where there is no recognized academic degree, certification is the only authoritative, independent measure available by which to determine a person’s experience, skill and knowledge base.

“International Grant Professionals Week is a terrific complement to GPCI’s “31 Days of GPC” event. We are proud to be a part of recognizing the grant professionals whose experience, qualifications and skills are paramount to sustainable programming at non-profits word-wide,” declared Amanda Day, President of GPCI.

For more information about GPCI, the GPC credential and the 31 Days of GPC, please visit the GPCI website at www.grantcredential.org.

GPA is a professional organization that builds and supports a community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good. We have partnered in this effort with GPCI, the grant profession’s organization that is dedicated to promoting competency and ethical practices within the field of grantsmanship, and the Grant Professionals Foundation (GPF), the fundraising partner ensuring the resources are available to train, credential and advocate for all grant professionals.

For more information, visit the International Grant Professionals Week web page at: www.grantprofessionals.org/grantprofessionalsweek.

Contact for more information about IGPW:

Kelli Romero, Membership Director
Grant Professionals Association
(913) 788-3000


About Altum

Altum offers industry-leading grants management, performance management solutions, and strategic communications. Since 1997, Altum has provided innovative software products and services to philanthropic and government organizations. Altum’s products include proposalCENTRAL®, an online grantmaking website shared by many government, nonprofit, and private grantmaking organizations; Easygrants®, a highly configurable e-Grants solution that meets the unique needs of grantmaking organizations; PhilanTrack® for Grantmakers, web-based grants management software that streamlines the grantmaking process; PhilanTrack® for Grantseekers, web-based grants management software that helps grantseeking organizations manage everything from finding new funders to writing grant proposals and progress reports; Infor PM, the industry-leading performance management solution; and QlikView, the industry-leading, self-service, business intelligence solution. Altum is proud to have made the Inc. 5000 list four years in a row (2008–2011).

Founded in 1997, Altum is a privately held corporation headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, near Washington, DC, with an office in Rockville, Maryland.

About Grant Professionals Association

Grant Professionals Association, a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. GPA is THE place for grant issues. We provide professional development by way of an Annual Conference and Webinars, professional certification (GPC), Journal and E-Newsletter, local Chapters, member benefits and more! www.GrantProfessionals.org.

Topics: grant management, grant management for nonprofits

Please Take the Spring 2015 State of Grantseeking Survey

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Thu, Feb, 12, 2015 @ 13:02 PM


Twice a year, we (PhilanTech, and now Altum) partner with our friends at GrantStation to conduct a survey about the current state of grantseeking.  Each time, we gain valuable insights about what is and isn't working well for grantseekers, who is funding what, what challenges are most pressing for grantseeking organizations - and we are happy to share those insights with the grantseeking community to help inform grantseeking strategies.

We've just opened the Spring 2015 State of Grantseeking survey, and hope that you'll take a few minutes to take the survey.

This year, there are new questions about Federal funding and support. These free reports, which will be published in early May, can serve as a valuable benchmark for organizations to review their grantseeking efforts, and will provide leading-edge information months earlier than other annual surveys.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey before March 31.  Results will be published on both the Altum and GrantStation websites.  Survey respondents can request an advance copy of results when completing the survey.

If you haven't already, you can download the Fall 2014 State of Grantseeking Report here.

Happy grantseeking!


Topics: grantseeking, nonprofit grant management, state of grantseeking, nonprofit grant applications

What to Do When Technology Isn’t Your Problem

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Wed, Feb, 11, 2015 @ 17:02 PM

(Post by Robert Weiner.  Original post on Robert's blog)


Copyright P. S. Mueller http://www.psmueller.com/

Does it feel like you never find the right combination of technologies to just make things work? Do you lie awake at night and wonder how everything is going to get done, or why a new project was just dumped on your plate? If you technology decisions at your organization are driven by some of the following, we’d love to see you at NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference (aka the NTC):

  • We chose the system because we have a volunteer who knows it. Or “Our VISTA/New Sector volunteer is really smart. She’ll figure this out!”
  • Let’s get this tool. It worked great at my last (completely dissimilar) organization.
  • We should get the _____est thing.
  • Our board member, donor, or funder said to do or buy ________.
  • It’s not in our strategic/operating plan, but ___________.
  • Won’t it just tell us what to do?
  • It’s free, and that’s all we can afford.
  • Drop everything. We need to get this up and running in the next 3 weeks.

People and process problems frequently masquerade as technology problems. It may seem like the wrong tool was selected, it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do, or the instructions aren’t written clearly enough. In fact, in many cases, what seem like problems with a particular piece of technology are actually due to issues with people, processes, or overall technology strategy.

So how can you identify these types of problems and help your organization - and yourself - better use technology to meet your mission?

On Thursday, March 5 at 1:30 pm, Marc Baizman, Dahna Goldstein, Tracy Kronzak, and I will help you and your colleagues stop blaming the *$%!& technology for organizational problems. Come to this NTC session and talk about issues like:

  • Are technology decisions tied to your mission and strategic plan?
  • Have you prioritized your technology needs and projects, or are you responding to whoever screams the loudest?
  • Are you trying to solve a lack of strategy or broken processes by throwing software at the problem?
  • Have you looked at your business processes to make sure they’re efficient and effective?
  • If you’re struggling with your current systems, did you select systems that meet your real needs, and that you can afford and support?
  • Do you have the necessary funding, staff time, and understanding of your goals and needs to support the technology you’re adopting?
  • Do you have policies and procedures telling people how to use your systems consistently?
  • Have staff been trained on those policies and procedures? Do you have an ongoing training plan that includes time for mentorship and learning?
  • Is someone in charge of making sure that people actually do what they were trained to do, and that everything’s running smoothly?
    • Are they placed appropriately in your organization so they can focus on your mission rather than the needs of one department (or person)?
    • Has that person been trained on the systems they support, or are they making it up as they go along?
    • Do they understand how those systems support the organization’s mission and strategic plans?
    • Does this person play well with others?
  • Is there a help or service desk where someone is readily available to help when needed?
  • Is the help/service desk staffed by friendly people with good customer service skills? Do they understand the systems you’re using?

Come join us for a collaborative, interactive, therapeutic discussion at the NTC.

Thanks to Marc Baizman, Dahna Goldstein, and Tracy Kronzak for their collaboration on this post.


Topics: nonprofit technology

4 Myths about Applying to Family Foundations

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Thu, Aug, 28, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

There are over 80,000 foundations in the United States.  According to the Foundation Center, about half of those foundations are family foundations.  In 2011, there were 40,456 family foundations, and that number has increased since.  That same year, family foundations gave a total of $21,329,932,023 in grants, also nearly half of all grant funding.

private foundation grants

Family foundations are therefore both a prevalent part of the foundation funding world, and a critical source of funding.  The most recent State of Grantseeking report indicated that private foundations (which are not all family foundations, though they frequently are) were the most frequent grant funding source, with 78.5% of all nonprofits that received grants getting one or more grants from a private foundation.

So it's important for grantseekers to understand family foundations as a component of a grant portfolio and fundraising strategy.  Here are 4 myths about applying to family foundations:

  1. Family foundations only award grants to pre-selected organizations.  Many family foundations indicate that they do not accept unsolicited requests.  It's certainly the case that many foundations only give to pre-selected organizations.  But that's not the case across the board, even in some cases where the foundation indicates that it does not accept unsolicited requests.  If the foundation indicates that it does not accept unsolicited requests, do not send in a grant proposal.  But try to find out if the foundation's staff members (if the foundation has staff) or a board member would be open to a conversation to learn about your organization and how it would be a good fit for the foundation's grantmaking goals.  Not all foundations will be open to this, and by all means do not push it if the foundation does not want to meet with you, but in many cases, family foundations in particular simply do not have the bandwidth to handle a lot of unsolicited requests.  But they may well be interested in learning about new organizations, and may then invite an application or an LOI.  Be sure to follow whatever guidelines for communication the foundation prefers.
  2. Family foundations only award small grants.  Family foundations vary widely in terms of the size of their asset bases, and, in turn, the amount that they award in grants.  They also vary in terms of the number and size of grants they award.  Leaving aside the Gates Foundation, family foundations range from supporting one grantee to hundreds of grantees.  While some family foundations will give one large grant to one grantee, and others will give several small grants to a handful of grantees, the size and range of family foundations means that many of them are providing sizable grants.  The best way to find out what's possible with a particular foundation, if past grant information is not available on that foundation's website, is to look at the foundation's 990PF (the tax returns filed by private foundations) for the last two years to see how many grants the foundation awarded and the sizes of those grants.
  3. Family foundations only give locally.  Community foundations give locally - that's what they were designed to do.  In some cases, family foundations will be very dedicated to the community in which the donor or donor family grew up or currently resides.  But there are two trends that suggest that family foundations are increasingly giving nationally and internationally:
    • Donor interests are changing.  Foundations are able to determine their giving focus, and award grants to organizations that meet whatever criteria they set (and legal criteria, of course).  Family foundation interests and giving priorities are as varied as the interests of the donors who established the organizations.  It's not at all unusual for even a small family foundation to be making grants to organizations that are geographically distant from the foundation's office.
    • Family foundations are increasingly getting the next generation of family members (and sometimes even a third generation of family members) involved in determining the foundation's giving priorities.  Those second and third generation family members frequently don't live in the same area as the person or people who established the foundation.  In many cases, the foundation will still grant where it is located, and also grant to organizations that the next generation family members get to know where they live or where they have traveled.  Again, the best way to find out where a foundation grants, if it isn't listed on the foundation website, is to look at that foundation's giving history as reflected in its 990PF forms.
  4. With a small family foundation, it's easier to get a grant since the application process is less rigorous.  The fact that a family foundation is small doesn't mean that it's not sophisticated about its grantmaking, and it's a mistake to think so.  Some small family foundations are among the most engaged grantmakers, thinking strategically about how their giving, no matter how big or small, can have the greatest impact.  Thinking strategically doesn't necessarily mean having onerous requirements; some are very forward thinking in learning about potential grantees and developing relationships, and you can help them by doing your part to develop a good relationship.  Some family foundations have requirements that are not right-sized for the grants they are awarding, though the same is true for all types of foundations.  As with any grant pursuits, it's worth thinking about the net grant (the grant funding your organization will actually receive after the costs of applying for and managing the grant are taken into account). 

One common theme highlighted through the points above is that each foundation (whether family, corporate, community, or independent) is different.  It's incumbent upon the grantseeker to do research to find out about the specific foundation's giving priorities, preferences, requirements, etc. 

The other key theme that cannot be overstated is that building relationships is key to grantseeking success.  Regardless of the size of the foundation, who is on the board, and what the foundation's giving priorities are, building a relationship - and maintaining that relationship - is critical to getting a first grant, and to then getting subsequent grants.  Put yourself in the shoes of a family foundation board member or staff member.  Are you more likely to be receptive to a great proposal from an organization represented by someone who is a total stranger to you, or to a great proposal from an organization you've been hearing about because someone from that organization has taken the time and made the effort to engage with you about how the organization fits with your giving priorities and the foundation's grantmaking goals.  Relationships matter.  And your relationship-building responsibilities do not end once you have gotten the grant.  Keep building the relationship by keeping the funder in the loop throughout the life of the grant, and beyond.

Learn how PhilanTrack can help you build and manage relationships with family foundations and other funders. 

Request a demo


Image: Data from the Spring 2014 State of Grantseeking

Topics: grantwriting tips, grantseeking tips, family foundations

5 Signs Your Nonprofit Should Invest in Grants Management Software

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Thu, Aug, 07, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Your organization relies on grants as a source of funding.  You would like to get more grants.  It would be great if all of your grant-related information could be stored and accessed more efficiently to save you time so that you can find more grant opportunities and write more grant proposals.  But grants management software costs money.  How do you know when the time is right to spend money on grants management software?

signs you're ready for grants management software

Here are five signs your nonprofit should invest in grants management software:

  1. You missed a report deadline.  You received a grant over a year ago and dutifully sent a thank you letter to the funder, and proceeded to do great work with the grant funds.  Things got busy, as they always do, and you realized, too late, that you missed the deadline for the annual progress report the funder had requested.  It happens more often than nonprofits would like to admit (just ask a funder), and can jeopardize your organization's relationship with that funder and chances of getting another grant.  And it doesn't need to happen.  With online grants management software, you can enter progress report due dates as soon as you receive the grant, see those due dates on a calendar, and even receive automated email reminders prior to due dates to help ensure you never miss another deadline.
  2. It takes hours to find the information needed to answer a question from your board or ED about past grants.  Nonprofit boards and other stakeholders (e.g., your executive director, if you're not the ED yourself) may ask you for information about how many grants you've applied for this year versus last year, or how many you've received this year for each program that is supported by grants.  Most nonprofits use a combination of Word, Excel, their email and calendaring software to track grant information.  With that combination of tools, tracking down the answer to even a relatively simple question can take a lot of time.  With online grants management software, you can filter your list of grants or proposals to see what was submitted or awarded when and answer your board or ED's question.
  3. You contacted a foundation without realizing someone else in your organization had already reached out to that foundation.  You may have several people working in your development department.  Or you might say, "Department?  We don't have a development department!  We just have me!"  Either way, you may be in a position where more than one person from your organization is interacting with a funder.  Perhaps one of the program staff at your organization had a conversation with a foundation's program officer, but didn't tell you about it.  If you then talk to that program officer, wouldn't it be great to know that your colleague had already had a conversation?  With online grants management software, you can track all interactions with funders, from the time that they are prospective funders that you're thinking about approaching.  That way, anyone at your organization who is interacting with your funders can see a complete record of who said what when, avoiding potentially embarrassing situations with funders, and helping everyone stay on the same page.
  4. You spent hours trying to track down part of a past grant application that had the perfect phrasing for a proposal you were working writing.  So many grantwriters have this experience: you're working on a proposal.  You come across a question and think, "I had a great answer to a question like this when I wrote a different proposal.  Which proposal was it?  Was it the one I wrote last month?  Or the one six months ago?"  Then the grantwriter spends hours trying to track down the proposal that had that perfect language so that the answer can be copied and pasted into the current proposal.  Reusing responses from past proposals can be a great way to save time by not reinventing wheels with each new proposal, as well as a way to create some institutional memory in terms of how the organization positions programs, outcomes, etc.  But the process of tracking down that perfect response from a past proposal can be really time consuming.  That's where grants management software comes in.  With PhilanTrack, once you have answered a question once, you can easily reuse past responses by clicking a "find similar questions" button in the grant proposal you're working on, reviewing past responses, and clicking "use this answer" to use that perfect phrasing in the current proposal.
  5. You have an ugly grant tracking spreadsheet that only one person in your organization knows how to use.  It's ok.  Most nonprofit organizations have one - a spreadsheet (or several spreadsheets) that tracks which proposal was submitted when, who's responsible for the next task, what reports need to be submitted when, which requests were declined and maybe what to do differently next time, contact information for funders, etc.  The problem is that it's hard to use, and it's particularly hard for someone who isn't deeply steeped in it to use.  Excel wasn't designed to manage grants.  And if the one person who knows how you use that grant tracking spreadsheet leaves the organization, much of the organization's institutional knowledge about grants can leave with them.  Online grants management software provides exactly what you need to manage the whole grant process and track all of your grant-related information.  And when there is staff turnover, all of the organization's grant-related information is stored in a safe online location that a new grantwriter or development director can access.

Do you think your nonprofit might be ready for grants management software?  See how PhilanTrack can help your organization. 

Request a demo


Image adapted from https://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/3843456676/

Topics: grants management software for nonprofits, nonprofit grant management, grantwriting software, software for grant writing

"Best for Community Impact" - B Corporation Honor

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Wed, Jul, 23, 2014 @ 16:07 PM

Best for the World Community Impact 2014

PhilanTech is honored to have been named to the "Best for the World - Community Impact" list again for 2014.  We joined 85 other companies in 60 countries in being recognized as companies doing the most to improve the lives of our customers, suppliers, and neighbors.

Read the full press release here.

Receiving this honor for the second time, along with also being named to the "Best for the World - Overall Impact" list for the second time this year, means a lot to us.  We exist to help social sector organizations maximize the social impact of their programs by helping them redirect resources from grants administration to service delivery.  We care deeply about supporting organizations doing good work.  But we also care deeply about being an organization that does good work, and we believe in the power of businesses, not only nonprofits, to create positive social impact.  Our mission and our values align with those of our clients, and we're honored to have those values recognized through our inclusion in these "Best for the World" lists.

Learn more about how PhilanTech can help your organization increase its social impact through grantmaking or grantseeking.

Topics: grant management software, b corporations, b corps for nonprofits

16th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Tue, Jul, 15, 2014 @ 11:07 AM

This is a guest post from Kelli Romero, Membership Director at the Grant Professionals Association

GPA logo

“Building Bridges”…with other grant professionals at the 16th Annual Grant Professionals Association Conference!

GPA Portland

In October, the 16th Annual Grant Professionals Association* annual conference will be in Portland, Oregon (October 15-18, 2014). This year, the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) has cooked up a host of new and exciting workshop sessions and special professional levels of expertise to suit every non-profit and grant professional.

This is a must-attend event for anyone involved with grant proposal preparation and grant management. An extensive workshop list offers expert advice from some of the professions most successful and accomplished grant writers/managers. Workshop topics are wide ranging and are targeted to individuals with varying levels of experience of beginner, mid-level, and advanced.

Workshops will identify the skill track and SIG that aligns with the topic of the proposed presentation. Skill tracks include; Proposal Development – Planning, Grant Construction, Grant Management and Reporting, Communication Skills, Professional Ethics, Resource Knowledge/Grant Research, etc.

Workshops cover topics such as:

  • State of Grantseeking and Its Implications for Grant Professionals – presented by PhilanTech’s own Dahna Goldstein!
  • Overcoming Fear & Loathing of Online Grant Applications
  • Grant Proposal Fundamentals
  • The Power of Social Media for Grant Professionals
  • The Impact of Revised OMB Rules on Your Federal Program
  • Implementing Grant Compliance with Your Back Against a Wall
  • Practical Considerations of Direct vs. Indirect Costs

Several workshops focus on specific fields, such as education, human services, government and faith based organizations.

The conference will also feature some special experiences, which include the Night at the Museum held at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). This premiere special event will feature a trolley ride to OMSI, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a hands-on exhibit and networking with your colleagues. You don’t want to miss this event! This is a limited seating event. Please make sure you secure your seat today by registering online at the GPA website. Ticket prices are $60.00. To purchase tickets, go to: Night at the Museum.

This year’s conference will highlight some keynote and featured speakers as well as some wonderful sponsors and exhibitors, such as PhilanTech!

Who Should Attend:

Grant Writers, Grant Managers, Grant Consultants, Grants Officers, Grant Coordinators, Development Directors, Executive Directors, Government Relations Officers, Financial Officers. Any level of experience, beginner to expert.

In today’s extremely competitive world for grant awards, the organization that invests in the professional development of its grant professional increases its odds of receiving grant funding tremendously. The opportunity to meet and learn from this caliber of presenters will not be matched at any other venue. 

Registration for this conference is a small investment for the return of knowledge and increased competency that will be realized after attendance at this premier event. To find our more information about the conference or register go to: 16th Annual GPA Conference

*The Grant Professionals Association (GPA), a nonprofit membership association, builds and supports an international community of grant professionals committed to serving the greater public good by practicing the highest ethical and professional standards. Founded in 1997, GPA has grown to close to 2,000 active members representing all 50 states and internationally. More than 50 chapters have formed in the past five years.

GPA logo and Portland photograph are owned or licensed by GPA and used with permission.

Topics: grantseeking, grantseekers

GuideStar Partnership - Grant Management Software

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Wed, Jul, 09, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

GuideStar logo

PhilanTech is delighted to announce that we have partnered with GuideStar to offer discounted access to PhilanTrack® online grants management software for nonprofits to GuideStar Exchange Gold and Silver participants. 

The GuideStar Exchange provides an opportunity for nonprofit organizations to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and share information with potential donors.  Nonprofits can claim and update their reports to provide program and mission information, financial information beyond the information in the organization's 990, and more.  By providing more information, nonprofits can become Bronze, Silver or Gold participants, and receive increasing benefits for providing more information.

With PhilanTrack, GuideStar Exchange Gold and Silver participants can:

  • Find funders: Search currently-available funding opportunities, research past grants awarded by potential funders, and research contacts in the funding organization.
  • Write proposals efficiently: Easily reuse content from past proposals when writing new grant requests and avoid reinventing wheels in each new grant proposal.
  • Manage funder relationships: Track contact information and interactions with funders and prospective funders to build relationships and institutional memory.
  • Track deadlines and requirements: Track deadlines for proposals and progress reports and receive automated email reminders about them.
  • Store grant-related documents: Store your organization's 501(c)(3) determination letter, audited financial statements, annual reports, and other documents requested by funders in PhilanTrack's document library.
  • And more!

GuideStar Exchange Silver and Gold participants can access discounted access to PhilanTrack by going to their "Manage Nonprofit Reports" page, then logging in and clicking "Benefits" to access the relevant discount code for Silver or Gold participants.

Learn more about the GuideStar Exchange.

Learn more about PhilanTrack for grantseekers.


GuideStar and the GuideStar logo are registered trademarks of GuideStar, used with permission.

Topics: online grant management, grant management for nonprofits, grant management software, grantwriting software

What Grantseekers Can Learn from the World Cup

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Tue, Jul, 01, 2014 @ 11:07 AM

I admit it.  I didn't really care about soccer before June 12, and I now have World Cup fever.  And I'm not even American (or a citizen of any of the other countries actually represented in the World Cup).  But it's been exciting to watch and follow, and to witness (on TV and social media) the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

What Grantseekers Can Learn from the World Cup

What's been most exciting has been the upsets, the underdog stories of those countries that should not have made it through to the round of 16, but have prevailed nonetheless.  Those stories, and the World Cup in general, offer some valuable lessons for grantseekers.

  • Learn the rules, and follow them.  For the uninitiated, soccer's stoppage time can be confusing, as can corner kicks vs. goal kicks.  Once you learn the language of soccer, once you learn the rules, it's much easier to follow.  The same is true of grantwriting.  There are good practices to follow, and many grantmakers will have their own rules.  Grantseekers that don't play by the rules set by a funder they're approaching have little chance of success.
  • You have to play the full 90 minutes (plus stoppage time).  When games are frequently decided by a goal, teams that only play hard for part of the game aren't likely to prevail.  The same is true for grantwriting in two ways: don't wait until the last minute to put together the grant proposal.  Things can go wrong at the last minute (a bad bounce in soccer, or the inability to reach the one person in your organization who knows the answer to a key question for the grant proposal), so it's best to work on grant proposals progressively.  The other way in which the need to play the full game is true in grantwriting is that every part of your grant proposal needs to be equally strong.  If you write a great needs statement but have a weak budget, your proposal is unlikely to be funded by many grantmakers.  A proposal that is consistent and compelling throughout will go much further.
  • But don't give up if you're down a goal near the end of the match. There have been several great stories of games that came down to the wire - games that were tied until the very end, or games where one team was down and then rallied in the last minute or two of play, or even into the stoppage time.  In grantwriting, if a grant seems just out of reach, stretch to go just a bit further to reach your goal.
  • Don't write off the underdogs.  It's true that a lot of grant funding goes to larger organizations - to hospitals, universities, or national organizations.  If your organization isn't one of those larger organizations, you may consider yourself an underdog in terms of grant funding.  This World Cup - and even the US team - has shown that the underdog should never be counted out.  If your organization meets a funder's guidelines and your programs fit with that funder's mission, think about going after the grant even if you're the underdog.
  • Winning outright isn't the only way to move forward.  The US team lost to Germany and still advanced to the round of 16 because it had the same number of points as Portugal, but a better goal differential.  The lesson learned here for grantseekers is that getting the big grant isn't the only way to win in grantseeking.  Of course, getting grant funding is the ultimate goal, but grants - particularly first-time grants - that are awarded are frequently smaller than the amount requested.  While that may not feel like a win, a) some grant funding is better than no grant funding, and b) getting a small grant, doing great work, cultivating the relationship with the funder, and submitting stellar progress reports about how the grant funds were used to help both your organization's and the grantmaker's missions can lead to larger grants in the future.

What do you think?  What other grantseeking lessons can be learned from the World Cup?


Photo: watching the US vs. Germany match in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

Topics: grant writing software, grantwriting tips, grantwriting software, grantseeking tips

6 Signs Your Foundation Should Invest in Grants Management Software

Posted by Dahna Goldstein on Tue, Jun, 17, 2014 @ 15:06 PM

5 signs your foundation is ready for grants management software

If you've been thinking about whether or not grants management software is a worthwhile investment for your foundation, you may be weighing the cost and benefits of buying or licensing software versus just sticking with the status quo, whether that's using a spreadsheet to track applicants, getting proposals in on paper or via email, or something else.

Here are six signs that your foundation should invest in grants management software:

  1. Your grant documents are kept in binders or in filing cabinets.  If your foundation has been accepting paper grant applications or applications via email that are then printed and stored, you may have binders or filing cabinets full of paper grant applications and progress reports.  With paper copies of grant applications and progress, it can be difficult to find the information you need about your grantees when you need it.  Do you find yourself flipping through piles of paper to find information?  Or typing in – or copying and pasting - grantee contact information from applications so that you’re able to keep all of your grantee contact information in one place?  Online grants management software will help you move your application and reporting processes into the cloud and store all grant- and grantee-related information in one centralized online location for easy access and so that you don’t have to manually enter any grant information.
  2. You have at least one board member who does not live in the same city as the foundation's office.  You may even have staff members who work remotely.  Or perhaps you like to work from home every now and then, or you think it would be nice to be able to access your grant information without having to go into the office.  That’s where online grants management software comes in.  Remote staff or board members can easily log into the grants management system to access any needed information.  Whether you’re on a site visit or sitting at your kitchen table, all you need is a web browser and internet access to securely access all of your foundation’s grant information.
  3. The application packets you receive from grant applicants are more than an inch thick.  Or on paper altogether.  Think of the trees!  Many foundations still ask their grant applicants to submit many paper copies of grant applications so that board packets can be compiled.  Increasingly, however, board members, particularly those who are next generation family members, prefer to access information online, rather than paper copies in the mail.  With online grants management software, applicants only need to enter information once, and everyone at the foundation who needs to read or review an application can easily do so.
  4. It takes you hours or days to compile information on the grants awarded by your foundation in the past year or two.  How well is your foundation meeting its mission?  You want to know.  Your board wants to know.  How do you find out?  You see what your grantees are doing with your granted funds that help pursue your mission.  With paper or email applications, you might spend hours or days trying to find that information by looking in different documents and extracting pieces of information to try to put together a comprehensive picture.  With online grant management software, you can collect quantitative information from grantees and easily display visualizations of the outcomes your grant dollars are achieving, and you can compile narrative information at a couple of button clicks to help tell the stories of your grants, rather than spending copious amounts of time manually aggregating that information.
  5. Producing a board book requires lots of copying and pasting, or making many copies.  Putting together a board book can take a day or more.  It requires compiling information from many different documents, then making copies of each board member, and putting those copies in the mail.  Think of all of the time you can save – not to mention the better information you can provide – by compiling a board book in a matter of minutes by clicking a few buttons.  What if you have a board member or two who still prefer to get board books on paper?  You can still print the board book and send it to those board members while your other board members access their information online.  Everyone is able to look at the same thing at the same time, and you’re able to provide richer information with much less effort.
  6. You ask for the same documents from grantees each time they apply, even though you already have copies of those documents somewhere in your files.   Most foundations ask their applicants to submit a copy of their 501(c)(3) determination letter, their audited financials, and other information.  That’s a good practice.  But what happens to those documents once they’ve been submitted?  Do you ask your applicants to submit the same documents each time they apply for a grant, even if you’ve funded them before and even if you have requested those documents before?  With an online grants management system, you can store grantee-uploaded documents so that you can easily access documents submitted last year or for a prior grant application, and you don’t have to require your applicants to keep re-submitting the same information.

You might think, “but wait!  It doesn’t cost my foundation anything to get grant applications in the mail, or by email, and grants management software will cost my foundation money!”  Yes, there is a licensing cost to grants management software, but there are time costs to everything listed above – not only for your foundation, but also for your grantees.  Did you know that 13% of every foundation grant dollar is spent administering the grants (Center for Effective Philanthropy)?  While only 1.5% of that cost is borne by the foundation, 11.5% is borne by your grantees.  Think about how much further your grant dollars will go towards meeting your mission and your grantees’ missions by helping your grantees apply to your foundation more easily, without having to produce multiple paper copies or re-enter information unnecessarily each time they submit a new grant application.

Do you think your foundation may be ready for grants management software?  See how PhilanTrack can help streamline your grants management processes.

Request a demo


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Topics: online grant management, grant management software, online grant management for foundations

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