When awarded a grant, does your organization receive every dollar pledged? For many, the answer is “no.”
Organizations we surveyed lost 5% of awarded funds because they were not drawn down during their allotted timeframe. Incompliance, missed deadlines and unorganized processes are usually to blame.
When a grant is awarded, a set of guidelines comes with it. This includes where money needs to be allocated, how long the process should take, and reporting deadlines. If these stipulations aren’t met, your organization risks forfeiting funding.
Why settle for less than the amount awarded? Grant management software can help your organization receive the full amount of every awarded grant.
1. Clear Eyes. Clean Calendars.
Often times, a deadline is missed simply because there isn’t a system in place to track progress and remind you of important actions and dates. Eliminate the guessing game and map out a concrete plan to meet grant deadlines and allocation calendars.
Grant management software offers features such as built-in calendars, automated reminders and full lifecycle reporting. These features help eliminate missed deadlines; ensuring the full grant is drawn down.
2. Stick to the Agenda
Another common way you may not receive the full potential of a grant is if you allocate money to items that weren’t outlined in the grant parameters.
Grant management software allows you to track every penny of a grant through all phases of the cycle. This way, you can guarantee that money is being spent in an appropriate and approved manner. Keep all relevant documents in one central location, including approved budgets, receipts and timesheets for easy ongoing tracking.
3. Continuously Keep Track
The third way in which organizations often forfeit grant money is by losing track of documents, receipts and expenses. Without the ability to prove that money was allocated appropriately, the grantor has no choice but to withhold a percentage of the award.
Put the processes in place to track every expense applicable to the grant. Monitor activity ongoing, compare to set goals and allocate funds as approved. This ensures that all money is available for drawdown.
Don’t forfeit money that has already been awarded to your organization. Implement grant management software, and help your organization drawdown every penny you worked so hard to earn.
For more on the ROI of grant management software, read our ebook.
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Nonprofits are made up of many moving parts that need to work together seamlessly for the organization to function efficiently and effectively.
However, when silos arise within organizations, a once well-oiled machine may unravel. Below, we outline two types of silos that nonprofits may experience, and tips for overcoming them.
Little can be accomplished when internal communication efforts are derailed. Siloed communications result in slow internal processes, confusion over responsibilities and unanswered questions throughout your nonprofit. To identify if your organization is suffering from them, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you find out about projects after they are already in progress?
- Do team and board members regularly miss deadlines?
- Are goals and agenda items prioritized differently amongst team members?
- Is information lost in transit?
- Do you take time out of your day just to find files and organize information?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, your organization may suffer from communication silos. So, what can you do to combat them?
Start by looking for ways to bridge the communication gaps between internal departments, teams and stakeholders, and facilitate more productive conversations. Technology solutions can be a substantial asset in this process. Below are two examples:
Grant Management Software
Features such as integrated calendars, reminders and delegation capabilities enhance communication throughout the grant management process. This leads to more timely turn around of materials, met deadlines and better efficiency.
Putting all board members on the same communication platform allows for everyone to be aware of information, activities and responsibilities. The better information is shared, the more engaged board members are.
Technology silos are another challenge for many nonprofits. Disjointed systems lead to redundant administrative tasks, potential data discrepancies and inconsistent processes. When deciphering if technology silos are a concern for your organization, ask yourself these questions:
- Does data and information need to be input into multiple systems?
- Is it difficult to get a firm pulse on overall organizational effectiveness and financials?
- Is the lack of integration between technologies creating more work for employees?
- Do you ever wish that specific technologies could just “talk” to each other?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, silos likely exist in your organization’s technology infrastructure. To combat this, look for technology solutions with open APIs or built-in integrations, so that you can connect disparate systems together. While a developer is usually needed for initial set up, the investment is worthwhile.
Connected technologies enable information sharing between platforms, and remove administrative and reporting burdens from your staff.
As an example, our grant management software, AmpliFund, can successfully integrate with your donor database, financial system, human resource technology, etc. through its open API. This provides a 360-degree view of all the moving parts of the organization and how they interact together, thus giving you detailed insight into how money is flowing in and out of the organization for more effective management.
The disruptive and uncooperative nature of silos leaves organizations unproductive, inefficient and ineffective. Has your organization suffered from unattended to silos? What steps have you taken to alleviate them?
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You understand your organization’s flaws, shortcomings and forgone opportunities when it comes to grant management.
You even now understand how technology can help your organization increase capacity, efficiency and effectiveness.
The last piece of the puzzle is to convince your executives of the value in grant management technology. This post outlines four steps toward gaining executive buy-in.
1. Assess Your Organization’s Grant Management Needs
Before speaking with your executive, be able to identify where your organization is falling short with grant management and where it is excelling.
Use the Grant Management Software Evaluation guide to help you map current processes, define your future state, and plan your implementation timeline and budget.
This planning will allow for more knowledgeable conversations about the software features you need/want, and give you a high-level snapshot of your organization’s unique situation. The resource will also help prepare you to answer potential questions from your executive, such as:
- How will current processes be affected and improved upon?
- Which vendor do you recommend and why?
- How long will the solution take to implement?
- How much will it cost? What is the payback?
2. Always Be Concise, Quantified and Fact Driven
Most executives are fact-driven individuals. They do not act on whims or gut suggestions. To prove the value of grant management software, show them factual information and quantified research, and present it in a clear and concise manner.
When discussing why grant management software is a good fit for your organization, there are numerous studies you could call upon.
The “Grant Administration: What Is It Costing Your Organization? Report Overview” is a great resource to pull information in order to show the cost of inefficient grant management. The report outlines where an average grant management officer’s time is distributed, and how that time can be cut and reallocated toward revenue-generating tasks with the implementation of grant management software.
"The Complex State of Grant Management: Adopting New Strategies for Success" can also help aid a high-level overview of where similar sized organizations are and how they are making strides to implement the same technologies.
Pair these studies with insight into your own current processes to better forecast the amount of time and money that could be saved with technology implementation.
3. Provide a 360-Degree View
Be sure to provide an all-encompassing view of how this solution will touch upon various elements of the organization. Since some grant management software has the ability to pull from multiple systems such as HR, finance and donor databases through APIs, the right solution could help increase efficiencies across the organization.
4. Understand Industry Trends
Executives are very interested in future-proofing their organizations. Grant management technology can help them do just that.
With compliance changes expected to come down the pike as a result of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), nonprofits will be forced to become more transparent in how federal funding is used. With grant management software, your organization gains greater reporting capabilities. This gives you the tools and insight your organization needs to stay compliant into the future.
A Winning Solution
Wrap up your discussion by acknowledging the cost of the solution but antedating with the payback: increased time for revenue-generating tasks, improved efficiencies, and consolidation of important data hubs and communications.
Grant management solutions are a necessary investment for the future of your organization. Presented correctly, executives will see the true value in a system that increases revenue, generates capacity and ensures compliance.
What have you done to sway your executives toward a grant management software solution? Share your strategies below.
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Purchasing a grant management software solution for your organization is a big decision that takes careful deliberation and planning.
Though the software can help maintain compliance, generate revenue and increase capacity in organizations, many decision makers get initial sticker shock or become weary of how much time will be needed to facilitate adoption and integration.
In order to take all deciding factors into account and make a smart decision for your organization, it helps to have a thorough understanding of your current processes and needs, and an understanding of the overall value software can provide. Simplify purchasing with these four steps.
1. Understand Your Grant Management Software Needs
Understanding your organization’s needs is the first step to assessing what solution will best benefit your processes.
Map your current workflow to identify where your system prospers and where it is being held together with ad hoc quick fixes. Then, list the pros and cons of your current processes to better understand what solution will be a good fit for your unique needs.
When mapping out your processes, it is common to see weaknesses, redundancies and inefficiencies. Once you have identified these flaws, you can focus on what your future management process will look like.
When brainstorming solutions to these faults, focus on goals rather than specific software functionalities. For example: “Our future grant management process will eliminate paper records to streamline communication and mitigate the risk of data loss.”
When mapping your current and future processes, include details on stakeholders and ancillary systems that may impact, or be affected by, changes.
2. Set a Timeline
Adoption of software solutions does not happen overnight; it is a process that requires planning and patience. Realistic goals and timelines are essential for a seamless transition. Speak with a representative when purchasing to better gauge the average amount of time it takes to configure/set-up the software, train your staff and integrate processes into daily tasks.
3. Budget for Grant Management
Budgeting is essential for an accurate understanding of your potential return on investment when adopting a software solution. We found that when organizations adopt grant management software, they reduce administrative time by an average of 72%. What revenue generating tasks can be tended to with the freed up time that unnecessary administrating once monopolized?
4. Compare Grant Management Software Options
Not all grant management software solutions are created equally or to the same caliber. Refer back to when you mapped out your current process and use that as a tool to decide what features are most important to you and what you need in order for this purchase to pay for itself. Compare options by taking notes on what features each vendor offers compared to the core features your organization needs.
Keep in mind that even the most ideal software may not be a fit if it’s the wrong partner. In addition to features, take into account financial stability, reputation, security and support when choosing your final solution.
For a more detailed look at how to prepare for a grant management software purchase, please download our Grant Management Software Purchase Evaluation Guide.
The lack of relevant and timely communication among board members leads to inefficiencies and decreases the overall effectiveness of your board.
To combat, a board portal can better connect your board, centralize communication, keep members informed, and hold individuals responsible for deliverables.
However, not all board portals are created equal. Therefore, it is important to understand your board’s specific needs when considering which to purchase.
Map Your Current Communication Processes
The first step to assessing what board portal solution is right for your organization is to understand the communication processes currently in place. Break down current procedures to more clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of your day-to-day communication and activity.
A board’s processes can vary based on a number of factors, such as industry or board size. Some boards meet twice a month, while others may only meet once a quarter. In this example, boards meeting once a quarter may need more in-depth communication systems to stay updated during the stretches of time away from the boardroom.
Similarly, boards with a sizable amount of members may find improved communication processes beneficial. For larger boards, it can be tedious and time consuming to keep up with board member responsibilities and keep members informed. With a board portal, this task is minimized, and transparency and engagement increase.
When mapping your board’s current processes, ask yourself:
What is my board’s main mode of communication? To this question, many answer “email.” However, email threads between board members can become overwhelming and disorganized. If this is a problem for your board, a board portal with centralized communication is ideal.
Does my board struggle with meeting deadlines? Communication silos, ambiguous ownership and unclear requests are often the reasons behind consistently missed deadlines. A built-in calendar function with automated reminders can eliminate missed deadlines by improving overall communication and reminding board members of their responsibilities.
Is my board well informed? Being well informed as a board member is vital to performing efficiently. Portals containing features that allow for engaged communication encourage board members to express ideas, learn what others are doing, and stay in the loop. Consider document-sharing, voting and polling functionality, and more.
Encourage Your Board to Adopt
One obstacle you may face when implementing a board portal is an unwillingness of your board to warm up to a new system. No matter which portal option you pick, the software will not make a viable impact on the board’s efficiency if the members are not onboard.
When deciding among portals, understand the makeup of your board and how tech savvy they are. You will want to choose a platform that is easily navigable and intuitive, so that all members can quickly learn it. This provides an easier transition for members and reduces resistance to adopt. In addition, the best vendors also provide helpful support options to further simplify the adoption process.
We’ve found that the above steps and considerations help ensure a seamless transition and viable board portal implementation. What other tips would you add?
To learn more about the benefits of StreamLink Software’s BoardMax and Virtual Boardroom, schedule a demo today!
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As a result of the sequestration, there is a greater demand for nonprofit services, as public programs are reduced and American income is impacted by furloughs and job cuts.
Simultaneously, government funding is down and it is increasingly competitive to obtain. As a result, organizations are forced to do more with both less time and money.
The big question at hand is: how can you optimize processes to ensure that resources are being used best? Grantees that streamline their processes can add both capacity and revenue.
1. Increased Time Efficiency
With ad-hoc grant management solutions (e.g. Excel and Word documents), time is often wasted on inefficient communication with team members, and disorganized, manual information filing. To determine if you’re organization is using its time inadequately, ask yourself:
- What is not getting done?
- What tasks are unnecessarily time consuming?
- How is the loss of time impacting business goals?
Then, ask yourself: What could you do with increased capacity within your grant department? Lucky for you, grant management software can add that capacity, as it makes information more readily available and increases operational efficiency.
Those who have adopted a more streamlined grant management solution have saved an average of 72% in administrative time. This means less time spent on grant administration and more time put toward revenue-generating activities.
2. Improved Use of Current Funds
Grant management software allows you to track every penny of a grant through all phases of the cycle—from receipt to post-award reporting. This lets you easily track activities against goals, properly allocate funds according to grant parameters, and ensure that money is available for draw down.
Organizations that switch to a software management solution increase their grant revenue by an average of 15%. This increase is a result of cutting the cost of audits and evaluations, as well as reducing funding that does not get drawn down.
3. Better Return on Pre-Award Efforts
In a survey we conducted on the cost of grant administration, we found that on average, nonprofits raise $2,177 per hour of grant writing/pre-award activity. However, a large portion of this time goes toward administrative activities. That said, if all of the employees’ time and effort were to be directed toward revenue-generating activities, the dollar amount would be $1,567,440 per hour on average.
When optimizing processes for increased capacity, it is important to not only see how these changes save money, but also where they can boost revenue potential. Eliminating wasted time on tasks that do not create revenue will allow you to focus your time and energy on more productive responsibilities.
The best way to increase nonprofit impact is more effective use of time and money. Grant management software results in more efficient time management, optimized revenue impact and a streamlined set of processes to guide your tasks.
What do you do to ensure your organization is running at optimized capacity?
Wondering how much grant management software could impact your organization in terms of time and revenue? Set up an assessment today!
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Higher education is a staple in American cultural values. Government entities, both at the state and local level, recognize this by funding various educational institutions.
Over the past 25 years, state and local governments increased financial support for higher education by more than 166%. However, with the 2008 recession and subsequent end of the education stimulus package in 2012, grants are more competitive and regulatory compliance measures are stricter than ever. This forces higher education grant managers to remain efficient, transparent and compliant to win funds.
In this post, we highlight three steps toward more effective grant management in higher education. They are designed to ensure the proper allocation of current funds and the winning of future monies through greater reporting capabilities.
1. Understand Your Needs
Funding and grant management needs vary among institutions based on structure and operations—e.g. community colleges versus state universities. Grant management solutions, however, are flexible enough to meet the needs of each individualized case within higher education funding models.
For both state universities and individual university institutions, offices are often centralized but may lack in operational efficiency. Decentralized operations can lead to mismanaged grants, leaving you vulnerable to non-compliance with funders’ regulations. For these institutions, grant management software can aid by centralizing operations, increasing efficiency, and decreasing time allocated to grant application and management.
Community colleges tend to have different needs for grant management. Grants awarded to community college are often short-term (3-4 year) consortia grants with sub-recipients. These sub-recipients tend to complicate grant management processes because each usually has independent financial and performance reporting systems. Comprehensive grant management software can help streamline complex allocation of funds and goals to multiple sub-recipients.
2. Map Your Current Workflow
Many organizations dealing with grant applications and management use the tools they have at hand to piece together a grant management workflow. These workflows are often comprised of word processing documents and spreadsheets cluttering a server. In order to delegate work, and remind employees of responsibilities, grant managers send emails.
Does this sound like a process you currently have in place? If so, you are probably spending more time organizing and communicating data than you are managing it.
A consolidated system comprised of all documents, deadlines, delegated tasks and progress can expedite workflows, save time and ensure compliance.
3. Accept the Challenge of Change
Humans are creatures of habit. Whether those habits are harmful or helpful seems not to matter as long as they are consistent. To evolve, we must embrace change and see the benefit of the end goal despite the time it might take to achieve it. Those that adopt grant management software reduce administrative time by an average of 72%, and have quick access to finance and performance metrics for compliance assurance.
Grant management software solutions are tailored to your organization’s specific needs, meaning that implementation can only help you. However, like any period of change, make sure you stay communicative and available to you team as you roll out these tools to ensure success from day one.
What grant management solution does your higher education funding office use? If you’re like most, it is probably an ad-hoc solution. Contact a StreamLink Software representative today to see how your office can expedite processes.
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Congratulations! You just purchased your first grant management software!
You’re probably feeling excited to start seeing your grant management process become more effective and efficient. However, like any new technology adoption, you also may feel a little overwhelmed with the implementation.
If you’re like 97% of the people we surveyed, your previous workflow was a duct-tape version of Word documents and Excel sheets. Now that grant management software is an implementable solution, it is time to take full advantage of all it has to offer. This starts with ensuring a smooth transition for you and your team.
1. Bridge the Tech Divide
A common reason for hesitation to adopt new technology is often due to fear of an inability to adapt. It’s true that once a new technology is introduced, there is an acclimation period in which those within your organization must learn the ins and outs of the new software, and put it into practice. Don’t let this scare you!
You’ve hopefully selected a grant management solution that offers intuitive and consolidated features, as well as a helpful support team. Tap into these resources. Host internal training sessions to answer questions, walk users through the application and appease concerns. Then, let your team know where they can turn for ongoing support on a daily basis, should they run into issues.
With a bit of education and hands-on training, even the least tech-savvy will be power users.
2. Your Previous Workflow Vs. Your New Workflow
Comparing your previous workflow with your new workflow will allow you and your team to understand the change of processes, and where the most education may be needed to gain organizational adoption.
It will also help you pinpoint where efficiencies will be achieved. Educate your team on these benefits in order to gain buy-in and support prior to roll out.
For example, if you were using emails as your main way of communicating deadlines and tasks, you will begin to see a large decrease in your inbox due to the built-in calendar and task assignment tools within your new grant management software.
Time will be saved with all your documents and applications stored in one central, consolidated location. Finally, calendar reminders and task delegation help with compliance, as well as keep your team well informed of responsibilities.
Overall, you’ll notice a trend toward more efficient processes and reduced resource waste, giving you more time for strategic activities.
3. Account for Added Capacity
Now that you have made the decision to integrate a grant management solution, it is time to see how that decision will pay off.
Pay attention to where your time is going throughout the day. Before adoption, it’s possible that the majority of your time was spent communicating tasks with team members, locating Word documents and Excel sheets, and attempting to fit imperative information in an organized manner within those documents.
With grant management software in place, you should see added capacity in your schedule. But, what do you do with this extra time?
Post-adoption time allocation should be seen going more toward revenue-generating activities, such as applying for new grants and higher-level strategy. Give your team direction and guidance on how to properly execute these initiatives to ensure added capacity is put to good use.
How have your processes and workflows evolved since adopting a grant management software solution?
For more on the grant management process, download our ebook, The Complex State of Grant Management: Adopting New Strategies for Success.
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Grant management software can help you expedite grant management processes, drive efficiency, and eliminate wasted resources.
But, is it a fit for your organization? Below are some organizational characteristics that may make you a prime candidate.
Use of Ad-Hoc Grant Management Tools
Ninety-percent of organizations we surveyed manage grants with spreadsheets, word processing documents and shared files. This process is time intensive and prone to error, as it is not fully integrated.
On the other hand, grant management software consolidates documents, information and applications, eliminating loose files. It also automates data collection and report creation, cutting down the amount of time needed.
The result is an average 72% reduction in administrative time.
Complex Grant Reporting Requirements
As grant requirements become more complex, organizations need to manage grants more transparently to ensure compliance. This is especially important for organizations that receive federal funds or are in highly regulated sectors.
Slice and dice data however you need with a grant management solution. Easily track time and effort certification, performance reporting across sub-recipients, project results and more. This ensures money is allocated properly and funds are fully utilized.
Numerous Grant Stakeholders
Grant management is even more intense when multiple people are involved in the process. This may include your development and grant offices, those executing the grant, sub-recipients and vendors.
With ad-hoc systems in place, you and your team are constantly swapping Excel and Word documents over servers and emails, and sending follow up reminders for information. Improve communication with file consolidation, project calendars, timesheets and task delegation capabilities.
If your organization has a need to manage multiple grants, ad-hoc tools can be even more cluttered and inefficient with the amount of information you’re responsible for reporting.
Grant management software can consolidate your documents and organize processes and procedures by specific grant to keep your workflows confusion-free. Integrated deadline calendars and to-do delegation allow you to seamlessly keep your team up to date and current with tasks.
Working For You
While the factors above may accelerate your need for adoption, any organization that receives or awards grants is an appropriate candidate for grant management software. Educational institutions, government entities, nonprofits and even funders can benefit from the robust features available.
Take a look at your current workflow and individualized needs. How could grant management software make your organization more efficient and effective?
For more on the benefits of grant management software, download our whitepaper, "The Complex State of Grant Management: Adopting New Strategies for Success."
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I have seen in discussion groups hosted by BoardSource as well as the Philanthropy Network the question of how to engage board members. This is clearly a need and challenge in that often the potential board candidates you want on your board are by definition, very successful and thus very busy individuals that are committed to many activities. There are three areas that we found in our product research that board members feel are critical to more individual engagement with the organization.
1. What Board Members Want:
They want to understand what is expected of them and what, in return, is expected of the organization they serve with.
Typically organizations may take the time to set expectations for the members and then maybe even orient them to the board and the role that the organization plays. Rarely, however, do organizations track and consistently measure the expectations and almost never do organizations track and measure the member's goals for their experience, mission alignment/engagement, or the organizations commitment to the member. In providing a tool to help organizations manage these areas we have found significant additional engagement.
2. What Board Members Want:
They want to feel that their commitment is valued and that they are accomplishing goals and objectives from meeting to meeting.
Members primarily engage through meetings; consequently, it is critical that meetings are productive and are moving in a direction towards a common strategic goal. The most common concern that we have heard from Board Members is that "it often feels that we just meet to meet and we cover the same ground from meeting to meeting.” In order to address this issue it is critical that organizations have goals for their boards and committees and measure action items from meetings in order to relate these items back to the goals. Then, as the organization tracks the completion of action items, the members can see the completion of the goal.
3. What Board Members Want:
Board members want consistent, accurate, timely, and accessible communication.
Board Members often feel that accessing and tracking information is too difficult and they are not getting the information they need in a timely fashion. The reality is this may not be the organization’s fault, but it is their problem. Consequently, organizations need to provide better and more varied ways to access mission critical material for their members and provide tools for them to respond and communicate more efficiently. One challenge to a possible solution is not all members will respond in the same way, so managing these varied styles requires a system and process that is not only of high quality but flexible as well.
Engaged board members are an organizations most critical asset. After all, the three most important words in fundraising are "Come join me!" and the only one who can say this is an actively engaged leadership volunteer.