The Big Picture: Finding A Perfect Grants Management System

Welcome to “The Big Picture: Finding A Perfect Grants Management System” blog series! I hope you’re all as excited about this blog series! Before we get started, I need to know more about you: please complete this one-question survey.

I’m starting this blog series because I’ve been having the same conversations with different colleagues trying to figure out “what’s the best grants management system that will allow us to work more efficiently and manage our grants better?” As I’ve engaged in these conversations, I started Googling “grants management technology” or “best tools and practices for grants management,” etc. and my results were…nothing! Okay, that’s not true, I did get results. Only the results were links to vendors of grants management software, Project Streamline and other useful resources from partner organizations. These are all great resources, yet, they’re not the results I was expecting.

My next step was searching the GMN community portal for endless hours. I found great conversations but I quickly realized the information was piecemeal and I could spend hours trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It took me a year– yes, a year — to realize the information was scattered and there was no resource out there that compiled this knowledge in a neat way. Then it hit me: the reason for this content not being organized was that no one had publicly created the content for the internet. There is no “go-to” place to find checklists, templates, best practices, and resources when analyzing technology that supports our work.

So, I had an “aha!” moment: if the sector can have LearnPhilanthropy as a knowledge resource, then grants managers should have a similar resource for this important part of our jobs. So, I decided it was time to create and organize this content and I figured “there is no better time than the present.”

As I write this blog series I hope you will join me on this journey and contribute to the conversation. Your comments and feedback will help me address and learn about things like:

  • “What grants management/technology issues are keeping us up at night?”
  • “It would have been great to have a checklists or templates for…(e.g. selecting a vendor, testing a system, etc.)”
  • “Okay, I have this great tool, now, how do I get colleagues to start using it?”
  • “How do I know what grants management system is right for our foundation?”
  • “It would be really cool, if….Now where do I find/build that?”

With your help, I hope we can have this content become a living resource that documents our grants management technology conversations for our evolving field; because let’s be honest — there is no better resource than ourselves.

My hope is that this will become a place for seasoned grants managers to share their grants management/tech knowledge and also be a resource for those of us that are just getting started. Chances are that in 10 years the tools and products will have changed, but the best practices will remain the same. This blog is not here to evaluate vendors because at the end of the day vendors and products come and go. The purpose of this blog is to have a living and evolving resource that helps us figure out what grants management system works for each of us at our respective foundation.

Please remember to complete the one-question survey to help me learn what you most want to gain from this blog series.

Nadia Alia

Nadia Alia is manager of grants and communications at The Tow Foundation where her responsibilities include: managing grantee relations; playing a leadership role as the system administrator for their online database; and, implementing The Foundation’s communication strategy. She is a member of Grants Managers Network and currently serves on the New York Chapter’s program committee.

4 Responses

  1. Kathleen McCarthy says:

    Thank you Nadia! As I spent yesterday working from home due
    to the snow, I found that the conditions outside were far more hospitable than inside as I tried to shovel my way out of the grants management system selection storm. Today’s emerging market is filled with everything from the practical to the pretty making it harder to right size a decision. And while there is no doubt that Idealware’s Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems is a must read, having a resource where those in our field can turn to identify best practices and find templates and checklists
    will be invaluable.

  2. Allison Gister says:

    A great post to frame a really big project – both in terms of the blog series, but also in terms of any grants manager/organization considering a database shift. The change management keeps me up at night – not just getting my colleagues to adopt a new tool, but to shift my own expectations of process, functionality and ways of working. Looking forward to this series!

  3. Beth Jarrard says:

    Thanks for starting this blog, Nadia. We are just beginning our task of finding a database that is the right fit for our foundation. It may very well be that it is the one we currently have, but we won’t know until we’ve investigated what’s out there. The first resource we consulted was the Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems. A daunting publication in volume of information but, as Kathleen said, it is “a must read.” Looking forward to more posts!

  4. […] For more information, see the first blog in this series. […]

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