The Corporate Grantmaker's Guide to Data

By Andy Cummings, Director, Client Solutions
Jan 25, 2016 1:25 PM ET
Blog

Can you track your grants with just an Excel worksheet? If the answer is no, you’ve moved to a point where grantmaking needs a grants management system.

Data is how you measure your impact, but access and interpretation are the only way you can make those measurements. The options to put this data to work are growing. What do you need? Here’s the corporate grantmaker’s guide to data.

What your data needs to do

Two basic things:

  1. You need to store data and access it.
  2. The format of that data should let you track, interpret, and forecast.

Your grants management system should give you the ability to do this without an army of IT professionals. A useful system should also allow you to upload documents for grantmaking packages. You don’t want to have to re-key everything.

In-house or online?

In the past, most grants management systems lived with you on-premise. It was a straightforward purchase with a steep price tag up front. These systems often were Windows-based. Compatibility with Macs or any other operating system was a headache.

The in-house approach also means that your organization handles data backups and software updates. Customization opportunities often came at the sacrifice of online data collection. These systems tend not to be well networked with the Internet.

There’s a growing number of grants management systems hosted online. Your organization contracts to use the software as a service. Your data and the system itself is online with the vendor.

This approach means your organization isn’t responsible for hardware to run the software. Your staff can access the program and your data anywhere there’s an Internet connection. These systems are more friendly to online data collection because the foundation of the system encourages online access. Applications, reviews and reports are created this way.

Keeping up with the back office

Mailings, accounting, payment processing and tax preparation get done by your back office. The data from an online or an in-house grants management system must flow to these functions. If you’re searching for a system now, be sure to pay attention to options for this critical integration.

Stop killing trees!

Grantmakers are moving away from the rule that applications must be on paper. Online proposals do more than save trees—they streamline operations. Not all software systems are moving toward this target at the same rate. So the more accessible and sharable your data is, the better for all areas of your organization.

Preflight checklist

Even simple applications require gathering and reviewing a whole lot of data. Grants management software helps you to manage this process and shrink its scope. The most innovative systems create checklists. Intelligent queries help you to be sure you’ve got all the information you need to consider a grant.

Payments

It’s not just writing a check. Setting up a payment schedule for a grant is often like setting up the original grant requirements. Payments might be incremental. Some are manual while others are direct wires. The beauty of many grants management software packages is that they feature a scheduling module that allows you to automate the payment process.

Your data is your lifeblood

As you consider grants management packages, there’s one thing you should make paramount. Whether it’s on-premises or hosted as SaaS in the cloud, your data is your property. It should be easily sharable, but you need to be able to access it at any time. The hallmark of a quality system is the ability to export your data without relying on the vendor.

Versaic is the only online solution for grants, sponsorship & donation management that works precisely the way you want. With our software and expertise, you’ll save time, gain insights, increase your impact and build your brand. Request your free demo today.