Go to Grants.gov, and you’ll find over 1,000 different federal grant programs that award more than $500 billion annually. Add to that the numerous foundational grants offered by corporations and other independent organizations, and you’re looking at a sizeable source of needed funding if your nonprofit wants to claim it.
If you can claim it, that is.
Even if your nonprofit manages to find the perfect grant opportunity, meets the grant’s rigorous requirements and turns in every needed form and figure before the deadline, there’s still no guarantee of success. According to nonprofit software vendor Blackbaud, only 37 percent of all grant applications were approved in 2016.
It’s an exhausting process to go through when you have limited resources, which is why, if you’re tired of handling the rigors of grant management manually, your nonprofit should consider investing in a dedicated grant management system.
If you’ve never researched grant management software before, that’s OK. The Buyer’s Guide below answers common questions and offers more information about this type of software to aid in your vendor vetting and give you more confidence in your final purchase decision.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Grant management systems are software applications designed to assist nonprofits with each facet of the grant fundraising process, from grant discovery and application through regulatory compliance and financial tracking.
Software can be deployed either on-premise (where the software lives on your own servers) or, as has become more popular, through the cloud (where the software lives on the vendor’s servers and is accessed by clients through a web browser).
Grant management software systems can include any or all of the following functions to assist users:
|Grant discovery||Automatically searches grant sources and alerts users when applicable grant opportunities appear.|
|Proposal creation||Maintain a library of common responses and attachments to use in grant applications.|
|Pipeline management||Submit grant proposals and track their progress.|
|Document management||Store all of your proposals and forms digitally in a central and searchable repository.|
|Compliance management||Monitor nonprofit compliance with ongoing grant requirements.|
|Task/deadline reminders||Assign grant-related tasks to individual users and receive notifications for upcoming deadlines.|
|Financial reporting||Analyze your grant win percentage and how much funding your nonprofit receives from grants.|
Many nonprofits rely on emails, spreadsheets, constituent relationship management (CRM) software or plain old pen and paper to manage all of their grant processes. Dedicated grant management systems offer a number of benefits over these nondedicated methods, including:
Figuring out how much a certain grant management system is going to cost is a tricky endeavor, as many software vendors don’t list all of their pricing information outright on their websites. The ownership cost can range anywhere from less than $1,000 a year up to $200,000 a year or more depending on the capabilities of the system and its intended audience.
Your payment schedule is also going to differ depending on whether the grant management system is sold with perpetual or subscription licensing.
A perpetual license involves paying one large fee upfront to use the software indefinitely. Subscription licensing, on the other hand, involves paying smaller recurring fees on a monthly or annual basis. Though the cost of each license type tends to equal out over time, it’s important to know what to expect, so you can budget accordingly.
You must also account for any additional charges for things such as implementation, training and support.
If you’re not sure how much money to set aside for a system like this, Nonprofit Technology Network’s annual survey reveals that the median technology budget for nonprofits in 2015 was:
If your nonprofit has decided to pull the trigger on a grant management system, here are some next steps you can take to aid your research and find the exact right platform for your needs:
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