Grant Management | Case study
Enhancing flexibility for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown (DLR) County Council is the authority responsible for local government in the Irish county of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown. It is part of the Dublin Region in the province of Leinster. As a county council, it serves a population of approximately 206,260 and is responsible for several areas of civil administration in the area.
The DLR Grant Scheme provides financial assistance to individuals, groups and organisations engaged in projects events or developments for the community and business organisations at the local or county level within Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown County.
“Previously, our Community Grant forms were available as downloads on our website,” recalled Ronan Herron, Digital Strategy Officer for DLR County Council. “The completed forms were then emailed to the relevant Grant Manager and shared among the appropriate teams for assessment.”
The Grant Managers used Excel spreadsheets to score and track applications, which became very difficult to manage as it resulted in massive email chains between staff.
“It was just a very labour intensive process,” said Ronan, “which meant our financial resources were not used to the maximum benefit of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown community.”
Satisfying multiple stakeholders
Various departments administer the Community Grants within the Council. As Ronan notes, “Each department has its own Grant Manager, so we needed to work with each department individually to collectively standardise workflows.”
In addition to senior management, there were eight departments involved, each consisting of a Grant Manager and one to three staff members. The total number of Admin users required on the Submit platform was 22 users with restricted permissions set for each user per their role.
Using Submit means Grant Managers retain control over their grant while staff members can only access information that pertains to them. Staff members enjoy an uncluttered view and only carry out actions within the platform based on their role.
As an Enterprise client, Ronan collaborated with our Senior Solutions Specialist, Neil O’Driscoll and leveraged his expertise in designing forms that met the needs of every stakeholder.
“We have been impressed with the entire Submit team,” said Ronan. Their demo immediately answered all the Grant Managers’ questions.” And, as part of the onboarding process, the Grant Managers engaged in training sessions with the Customer Success team. “Sarah and Amy have been fantastic. I know our Grant Managers have found them to be very efficient and knowledgeable.”
A unique challenge
The most challenging part of the DLR County Council workflow was ensuring that each organisation would have a unique identifier. Unique identifiers are used in databases to distinguish between different fields. This step was necessary to ensure that reports could be generated based on the grant-seeking organisation’s grant history.
“This was particularly challenging because different committee members may apply for a grant on behalf of an organisation in different years. The committee members often register with separate email addresses and don’t always spell the name of their organisation in the same way!” said Ronan.
Now, where more than one person from an organisation applies, DLR County Council can easily find duplicates and ensure that time is not wasted in processing a duplicate application.
This work is continuing, with ongoing integration with Irish nonprofit database, Benefacts. Benefacts is a database of civil society organisations in Ireland. Besides charities, this includes philanthropies, sports bodies, political, human rights and advocacy organisations, business and trade associations.
Benefacts lists more than 20,000 organisations. These organisations are separate from the private sector and government and work towards social, cultural or environmental good.
Standardising application forms also meant standardising reporting for each department. Ronan wanted a deeper understanding of the everyday data DLR was collecting and explore how they could use it to further their goals.
“Submit worked with us to understand the types of reports that we needed to generate and customised the platform to ensure that they could be created by admins easily.
Some compromise was required to make this work, but we ended up with a solution that ensures each department can generate suitable reports,” recalled Ronan.
“We can even compare metrics between departments and make strategic decisions as a result.”
Submit.com’s reporting features have significantly enhanced the DLR staff’s ability to analyse their grant-giving. Their County Councillors have also benefitted With Ronan noting how “communication with Councillors has dramatically improved by adding auto-tags to applications based on electoral ward. Our staff can now generate custom reports for each councillor.” As a result, DLR’s County Councillors are better informed and can make smarter decisions that benefit the Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown community.
Key Features Used
Data security and privacy was also a severe concern for Ronan. Breaches of GDPR can result in significant fines but beyond this DLR want to ensure the integrity of all the data they process. “It’s fantastic having a system like Submit.com, we can rest easy knowing we’re compliant,” said Ronan.
For DLR County Council, using Submit.com means:
- All candidates explicitly agree to have their data processed and controlled under DLR County Council’s privacy statement.
- Only verified users can access historic applications by other members of their organisation.
- Data is deleted under DLR County Council policies.
- Access to all grant applications by DLR County Council staff is under control and password protected.
Ronan’s main concern about rolling out Submit.com was facilitating the Community Groups who apply for grants.
“We thought our applicants might be too used to paper-based applications and would find the use of an online system difficult.
This fear proved to be unfounded – our application numbers actually increased, and feedback from applicants was overwhelmingly positive,” said Ronan.
Furthermore, once DLR award a grant, candidates are asked to submit a post-grant feedback form. Tied to the initial grant application, DLR staff use this multiphase approach to measure the success of a project. Candidates can even upload photos and videos where appropriate.
As the Digital Strategy Officer for DLR County Council, Ronan is keenly aware of the problems associated with having multiple tech solutions. “I’ve been impressed with Submit’s flexibility. It’s so much than a grant management solution,” said Ronan.
The DLR’s experience with Submit has been so positive that Ronan is exploring other ways his team can use the system saying how DLR is, “are exploring how we can leverage the platform to address other data collection challenges within the organisation.”
“We have been impressed with the entire Submit.com team. Their demo immediately answered all of our Grant Managers’ questions. Sarah and Amy [Submit’s Customer Success Team] have been fantastic. I know our Grant Managers have found them to be very efficient and knowledgeable.”
Get started today
If you think it’s time to streamline your grant submission process or you’re interested in more ways to modernise your current workflow and review process, talk to one of our senior solutions specialists today.