Grantmaking is a ‘learn on the fly’ endeavour, and unless you’ve been doing it for decades, you likely rely on trial and error methods to get the work done.

But building the grant is only half the battle. When the applications roll in, what does your management process look like? Is the team fully equipped to handle large volumes of applications without much prep work? 

What about bias in the review process—is your grant fair and available to everyone who might qualify or are you unknowingly closing the door on potential winners?

Philanthropy has proven itself to be one of the most powerful ways to work towards a more fair and equitable society, and with that, comes responsibility.

We’ve put together five of the biggest areas grantmakers self-sabotage their impact, and how to remedy it.

  1. Team members have their own systems

In a perfect world, every organisation would have a meticulous system for managing submissions, handling deadlines and reviewing grantees. 

In the real world, too many organisations have messy processes. Those systems are often manual and they’re rarely productive. Staff members have their own ways for organising grant applications, teams go in and out of the same spreadsheets, replacing a colleague’s edits with their own, sourcing materials over again and checking for inaccuracies in whichever way they feel is best.

Essentially, everyone relies on their methods to get the work done.

The problem with this is obvious: a heap of time gets wasted on duplicate tasks like data entry, the opportunities for errors to seep in are ripe, and applications get reviewed based on personal preference and working style, rather than against clear criteria. 

  1. High volume of submissions cause panic

When the submissions come rolling in, what’s your capacity?

If your grant bringing in more submissions than expected sends you into an administrative nightmare, you have a problem on your hands. Often, organisations prepare for the minimum and find themselves scrambling to stretch their resources to accommodate a higher number of applications.

Does it cause the team to lose track of important grantee information? Does it become difficult to consolidate grants and keep them organised and ready for review?

If the answer’s yes, you could be doing your grant a huge disservice. If you want to maximise your grant’s impact, it’s important for your research program to grow—that means managing grants with ease, regardless of how many come in.

  1. You contact grantees manually

When you’re managing large volumes of grant applications, do you contact submitters manually—over the phone, or by email? How often do you do so? What periodic updates do you send them, if any?

Reviewing grant applications takes time and focus. Don’t take that away from the most important task by allocating it for repetitive tasks that a management tool can easily do for you (and with fewer mistakes).

During the application and review process, there will be several status updates and reminders you’ll need to send applicants. From incomplete application reminders and progress updates to requesting additional documents, keeping open lines of communication with grantees is essential to your grant’s success and your reputation. 

The more submissions you receive, the more messages you’ll need to send out. By automating repetitive tasks and freeing up time for more pressing jobs, you’ll be doing your team and yourself a favour.

  1. You can’t keep track of the grant lifecycle

Grant management has lots of moving parts.

From the initial call to submission right through to announcing the winners, there are several jobs that need to be done, by different people, and at different times, and they all tie together to create a seamless, traceable review. 

You should be able to easily store all your files in the same, easy to access place, track all activities with a few clicks, assign review items, and manage all grant activities.

So how can you do that? Well, there shouldn’t be any confusion about where a document is stored, or how to move parts along as that only slows you down and weakens the impact of your grant.

You need a centralised location to store, manage and track all the moving parts so you can easily and quickly administer applications from start to finish. 

  1. You spot trends in winning grantees

Assuming you record data and track previous grants (which you really should be doing), have you noticed any trends among the winning grantees? 

Perhaps you notice that all the previous winners belong to the same demographic group or were all male, or all had an acutely similar professional or personal background. 

Implicit bias plays a huge role in philanthropy, and without conscious systems in place to minimise and eliminate it, it can easily seep into a review process. 

If your grant is only reaching a particular group of people, you’re in trouble. Not only are you closing yourself off from more talent, skill and reach, but you’ll also be contributing to an unjust system that favours certain groups over others. 

Be the fair grant giver and analyse your data to ensure you’re staying on top of implicit bias. It’s the right thing to do.

Making a bigger impact with a grants management platform

Regardless of the size of your organisation or the grant you’ve built, you’ll know it’s getting increasingly harder without technology.

There are simply too many manual tasks that are repetitive and are prone to errors when someone has to do it every day, day in, day out. That’s why the most impactful grants in the world have all used a grant management platform to help them out and focus on the human side of philanthropy. 

It’s no secret—technology makes life easier and lets you get on with more important parts of the job. From admin organisation and responsive on-brand forms all the way to data reports and analytics, you instantly get heaps more time to focus on what matters most—reviewing grants and making an impact on society.

If you’re building a grant and need some help bringing it all together for a smoother process, request a demo of Submit and quickly see how much easier grants management can be. 

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