A Grant Manager’s Needs
Picture this: You’ve just established a new funding round. You have applications flying in (hopefully), but many have missing sections. Some applicants have forgotten to attach their proposed project budgets for example. Now you’re chasing up those documents while more applications pile in. You can spend a lot of time searching through inboxes while also reaching back out for amendments or reviewing proposals. Updated information requires manual entry on your end as you add their data to your file management system or spreadsheet – and that’s another chance for human error. This is only the application stage – then there is assessing, awarding and reporting as well.
Structure and automation to support the grant administration team
With high volumes of data, constantly changing information, multiple stakeholders and many more moving parts, grant management is a complex process that requires dedicated end-to-end systems to ensure full oversight and informed decision making.
Whether you’re providing grants as a not-for-profit organisation, foundation, corporate or local government organisation, it’s crucial that your grant management is collaborative, efficient and hassle-free, for you, your applicants and colleagues. That means you need a digital, preferably cloud-based, grants management system first and foremost. From there you’ll be looking for efficiency enhancing features that streamline reporting and communication while remaining configurable and adaptive to change. Only then will you begin to experience the full benefits of a modern grant management system.
Enquire is one such solution, which provides organisations with a platform to manage the entire grant funding process from start to finish. For those looking to simplify the end-to-end grant lifecycle, let’s discuss six key features to look for in truly impactful grants management software.
1. Online application capabilities
Applications are the essential starting point of any grant project. The best grant management software will allow granting organisations to set up funding objectives, configure online forms and manage all grant applications online. While many platforms offer an online grant application tool, features that help propel your funding objectives include:
- The ability to create application forms from templates.
- Automated functions for managing grant application start and close dates.
- A mobile-responsive, user-friendly and configurable client portal.
- Open grant rounds to the public or by-invitation.
2. Reporting functionalities
As reporting and transparency become more important to stakeholders, investors and funders, accurate and detailed reporting is essential for all organisations. When selecting a grant management system, find a platform that offers a clear overview of your day-to-day operations, financials, goals, and results.
Platforms like Enquire allow you to track performance from the top down with its hierarchical reporting structure. See every delivery agent, milestone, and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) across your portfolio, down to programs and individual grant projects for a better understanding of your overall impact. Quality and accuracy of data are crucial in reporting. Today, it’s possible to both communicate impact and improve future decision-making processes — in one system.
With dedicated grants management software, grant reporting is:
- Built on reliable, comparable data.
- Accessible from anywhere, anytime.
- Scheduled and automated, if desired.
- Vertically structured to aggregate outcome reporting.
- Customised to your stakeholders.
3. Simplified communication tools
Staying in touch with external audiences and your grants network ensures that your organisation is properly communicating with your grant seekers and partners. This includes relaying information before grant application open dates, through registration and submission, with notifications all the way throughout the assessment process.
The best grants management systems not only offer simplified lines of communication but also provide alerts and notification tools throughout the grant lifecycle. For example, grant recipients can receive notifications regarding payments, contract milestones, contract schedules, funding opportunities, grant discovery opportunities and key date information. During the reporting stage of the grant lifecycle, funders may need to collect information from a grantee to give insight on performance and milestones. Enhanced communication and collaboration features make this process easier to collect the needed information. A grant management with built in communication tools can help your organisation to:
- Reduce errors by having all information and correspondence in one place.
- Save time, with all approved information automatically saved against the project record.
- Manage reporting and contracting with comment-enabled workflows.
- Stay on task and avoid missing important dates with automation tools.
- Manage variations to in-flight grants and request project updates from recipients.
4. Configurability features
A grant management system that puts administrators in the driver’s seat of their grant process means you can get funding into the field faster and easier. A configurable system enables modifications to in-flight processes and allows you to collect data and assess against reporting indicators suited to your program needs, even when they change. Configurability is crucial to distributing grants funds efficiently.
For a system to be truly configurable there should be no programmer required. Configure key aspects of the grant management process using an out-of-the-box platform to meet your fund management needs.
Here are some key features you will want to be able to configure in a grants management system:
- Client portal: Add your organisation’s branding to the client portal and fully configure funding round data.
- Forms and other documents: Tailor application and reporting forms, contracts, and email messages from templates to meet your needs and save time.
- Business Process Workflows: For assessment, reporting and document management processes, such as contracting.
- Reporting indicators: Configurable indicators to measure project outcomes and delivery agent performance across any program.
A configurable grants management platform can more easily pivot with in-flight projects and scale with your portfolio. Configurability gives you the flexibility and adaptability to get programs off the ground faster, while ensuring processes run smoothly.
5. Project payment efficiency
Accounting for the flow of funding and tying financial activity to a grant program’s performance can be streamlined. It’s important for your organisation to keep track of due dates in order to ensure on-time delivery, reporting and processing. With so many moving parts involved throughout the lifecycle of a grant project, your grant management software should offer features that help make all payment exchanges more efficient and that means reducing complexity by maintaining complete oversight.
You should look for a grants software that enables your team to track both grant fund inflows and outflows in the one system. With our cloud-based platform, you have access to payment history information at any time and greater transparency into grant funding activity and outcomes. Grant administrators can track payment records against milestones and performance indicators. Enquire users can also integrate the system with their existing financial management tools.
6. External portal for collaboration and stakeholder engagement
Streamline collaboration between the grant administration team, applicants, and external stakeholders from a centralised system to reduce cumbersome manual information gathering, collating, recording and communication. An external portal is a secure, customisable way to maximise the grant management process. A client portal extends the system to applicants, contractors, and reviewers to reduce the administrative burden while improving information sharing. This makes finding and applying for grants easier than ever before – ensuring a larger applicant pool for you to quickly assess with workflows and ultimately award funds to the best projects available.
Applicants, contractors, reviewers and other stakeholders can easily complete their tasks in a self-service external client portal that allows them to:
- Quickly register, start, continue or amend their applications, assessments or reports.
- Review submitted work or download in-flight applications.
- Track changes made in a report or document using workflows and comments.
- Online access to notes, workflows, forms making it easy to collaborate anywhere, anytime.
Managing the Grant Lifecycle with Enquire
Investing in a quality grant management software is a big decision, and it is very important to find an all-encompassing software solution that works for all stakeholders’ needs. When it comes to key features your organisation needs to continue making an impact, a comprehensive management system, such as Enquire, should support you on every front. With tools to help configure applications unique to your needs and features to simplify workflows and reporting, Enquire is equipped to manage everything from grant programs to scholarships to research funding.
Enquire’s top features
- Online Application Capabilities – Online form builders, full grant round configuration, application management and workflows for managing amendments and update requests.
- Reporting Functionalities – Generate one-click, automated and scheduled reports on grant data, search, sort and filter features, create your own reporting indicators to track project specific progress.
- Simplified Communication Tools – Central repository for all communication data, client updates automatically reconcile against project records, notifications, emails and alerts to keep teams on track.
- Self-Configurability – Configure workflows, forms, document generation and more without the involvement of IT staff
- Project Payment Efficiency – Milestones and scheduling features, financial system integrations and batch processing of invoices.
- External Portal for Collaboration and Stakeholder Engagement – Self-service registration for external users to submit applications, assessments, reports and more.