Guest post by Lindsey Linzer
Florida grants managers came together online and in person on Tuesday, August 13th for a webinar on the topic of grants management tools. In the past few years, a number of new tools have emerged that have shaken up the grants management landscape. Private foundations, corporate foundations, and community foundations are reviewing their options and in many cases switching to some of the new and more flexible, user-friendly tools. The webinar featured two Florida based grantmakers who shared their experiences migrating to and using some of the newer grants and project management systems.
Dan Schoenfeld, Director of Grants Management at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, discussed with the group how Fluxx has changed the entire grantmaking process at the Knight Foundation. Within 8 months of transitioning from MicroEdge GIFTS to Fluxx the Foundation has been able to significantly streamline internal operations and reduce the number of steps in the grantmaking process from over 25 to under 15. He noted that one of the best features of Fluxx is that it is cloud-based meaning all staff, and especially program directors who are constantly on the road, are able to manage their grants from anywhere there is an internet connection. Dan shared screen shots of Fluxx and explained how the customizable “dashboard” model has allowed Foundation staff to utilize and visualize important grant data in entirely new ways. Transitioning to a new tool is never without its hiccups and Dan reminded the group that Fluxx is still very new and many features are still being created but despite these challenges the move to Fluxx was overall a success for the Knight Foundation.
The grantmakers then heard from Sharon Wood, Program Officer/Office Manager at the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, who shared why the switch to Foundant Technologies from MicroEdge GIFTS was the right move for the small Foundation. In 2011, the Foundation migrated to Microsoft Office 2010 and moved to the cloud and unfortunately the GIFTS package they were using no longer worked. When presented with the cost of upgrading GIFTS, Sharon began to review the other options available. Her research included talking to local grantmakers and reviewing sector research such as Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems by Idealware. After spending many months reviewing the features of her various options, it was the one-on-one attention from the President of Foundant and the tool’s ease of use that really won her over. Sharon was able to easily migrate her data from GIFTS to Foundant and a year later is thrilled with how simple Foundant is to use and how happy her grantees have been with the switch. Foundant is also a cloud-based system and prides itself on its usability by even the least tech savy of grantmakers.
The speakers fielded many questions from Florida grantmakers that included inquiries about cost, license features, and overview usability. The topic was very well received and Dan and Sharon have made themselves available to Florida grantmakers for follow up inquiries about their respective tools. Grantmakers who wanted the opportunity to network with their peers after the webinar came together in person at the Broward Cultural Council in Ft. Lauderdale and at Allegany Franciscan Ministries in Tampa. The next Florida Chapter Grants Manager’s meeting will take place on November 15th with online and in person options available. Contact Erin Baird, Florida Chapter Regional Chair to learn more.