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PEAK Grantmaking

Grants Management Systems that Narrow the Power Gap

Designing and maintaining grants management systems that are accessible and user-friendly for your grantseekers, grantees, and staff is an important way to address the power gap proactively. Strong relationships begin with simple efforts to improve the way grantseekers interact with you and your organization.

Online application systems in particular have a huge impact on grantseekers, but not enough grantmakers or vendors actively consider usability from the grantseeker’s perspective. Instead, these systems are designed with the grantmaker in mind, focusing on features that increase efficiency for those accepting and reviewing applications. Improve the user experience and accessibility of your online application and reporting system, and you can make quick and meaningful headway in your grantseeker and grantee relationships.

With the recent release of the 2020 Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems, you now have the ability to compare and contrast 14 different systems across a variety of requirements.

As you dive into this, we offer the following recommendations to guide your decision-making process.

Consider the customer and consider accessibility

When you choose an online system, remember that there are two customers to consider, both equally important: you (the grantmaker) and your grantees. As you explore and establish your own system requirements, don’t forget to ask your grantseekers and grantees what is most important to them.

Think of technology as a tool, not a strategy

The technology you use is just one supporting element of your relationship-building effort: Grants management systems are not a substitute for personal interactions with grantees, and should be considered in the context of a complete engagement strategy. Approach the selection of an online system by considering how it will serve your overall approach to building strong relationships with your grantees.

There will be many long-term implications for the choice you make, so embrace this choice as a strategic decision, as important as what and who you fund.

Take your time to make the right choice

With the increasing functionality of grants management systems, especially their growing utility across departments and functions, your choice of systems is tied to your entire organizational strategy. There will be many long-term implications for the choice you make, so embrace this choice as a strategic decision, as important as what and who you fund.

Use our checklists

Our how-to guide, How to Design Accessible and User Friendly Online Systems is a great companion to the new digital version of the 2020 Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems. The guide, available to our Organization Members, is designed to help you create systems that narrow the power gap through strong and trusting relationships.

Melissa Sines

Melissa Sines is programs and knowledge director at PEAK Grantmaking.