If preparing grant statistics for annual reports and grant-announcement press releases takes more than an hour, then it's probably time to invest in a better grants-management system. The work flow bottleneck for generating grant stats is undoubtedly getting the relevant numbers into a computer. Your staff really shouldn't have to re-type numbers which have already been entered into a computer, at least once, by a grant applicant. Your online grant application should collect the figures you need and store those figures in a database.
I make the case for switching to a paperless grant-application process in a separate article. You don't need to go totally paperless to overcome the data entry bottleneck. Perhaps your foundation isn't ready to take the plunge just yet. That's perfectly Ok, your trustees don't have to dive in headfirst. A traditional foundation can still reap the rewards I'll be describing in this article. You can move to an online grant summary page, without giving up the paper application.
It's common for foundations to use grant summary pages or cover sheets to capture the information later used for reporting and statistics. Chances are you already have a summary page if you have a paper application process. Moving even just this one tiny part of your grant application to an online form, which stores information directly into a database, can really simplify your grant making and reporting.
You can call it whatever you like: Online Letter of Inquiry, Notice of Intent to Apply, Application Cover Sheet, Grant Summary, or Executive Summary Application. Collect the basic grant application info through your website and store that information in a database. If you still want the paper grant summary, you can have applicants print the completed form off of the website. You get the same traditional grant application heft, only without the traditional data entry busywork.
With this simple enhancement granting statistics, grantee lists, fancy pie charts, and even entire annual reports can be created instantly. The data visualization possibilities are endless. National and International funders can see the geographic distribution of their investments on a map. Your grantee list, with funding amounts, and project summaries can be up on your website the moment the grant review meeting is over.
What's more, with data entry taken out of the picture your trustees can keep an eye on how their funding decisions will impact key grant-making metrics during the decision-making process. This represents a fundamental shift in how grant-makers use statistics and analysis, from after-the-fact reporting to on-the-fly philanthropic analytics.
If a particular grant-making strategy is in place, these tools can help trustees work to the plan. When there are many worthy causes, and tough decisions must be made, trustees can compare multiple funding scenarios before reaching a final decision. Perhaps the deciding factor for your trustees is projected impact, or diversity of population served, or regional impact, or a visual comparison of the curb appeal of competing agencies; you now have a way of making those comparisons instantly.
What information should you collect ? Organization name, EIN, contact info, address, brief mission statement, brief grant summary statement, annual budget, total project budget, grant request amount, and information about previous funding from/applications to your foundation would be a good place to start. From that information alone you can generate the most common grant-making statistics and easily generate a grant-cycle summary. You'll know what the average request, median organization operating size, and what percentage of new or repeat applicants were funded. If you care to, this data can be used to produce a detailed map of applicants and funded programs. You might consider asking for additional demographic information, which can be used to create even more detailed statistics. You might ask about the racial diversity and/or professional backgrounds of an applicant's board of directors, the number of people expected to benefit from the grant, or the racial diversity and geographic region served by the organization.
OpenSourcery specializes in building custom tools for empowering the future of grant-making, driving nonprofit missions, and supporting the growth of responsible businesses. If your foundation is looking for an innovative and easy-to-use grant-making solution , just drop us a line.