How do you organize your information about grant deadlines, guidelines and contacts?
Back in the day, I worked for a nonprofit that hired a vendor to create a customized grant deadline tracking system. She customized Microsoft Access for us and it worked nicely enough.
In more recent years, I've relied on Microsoft Excel and Google Google Sheets/Drive to manage my prospecting information... with mixed results.
A spreadsheet is the perfect tool for corralling basic information about deadlines, funder contact information and the nonprofit project that you think could be a match for the funder.
But you hit the limitations of spreadsheets when you try to include lengthy information about a funder's:
- Giving history
- Financial resources
- Management/board structure
And as you know, that's the information that can really help you make the best grantseeking decisions!
You worked hard to dig up this prospecting information, and it's a shame to not have a really nice place to put this information -- a place that:
1) Has enough room in every information field for you to park a bunch of data, if needed. (This is where I hit a wall with Excel -- there are limits to how much text you can put into any one cell.)
2) Doesn't require much customization. Monkeying around with databases when you're not an expert can be a real time-sink. I recently tried using Evernoteto create my own "CRM" (customer relationship management) database for grant prospecting information... and while it was fun to build my Evernote skills, the result was unwieldy in terms of creating nice-looking reports that others could read. And that leads me to my next need...
3) Makes it easy to create nice-looking reports for your colleagues.
4) Is free, or very low-cost -- at least for a user with fewer than 100 or so funder records to manage. (The model of a cloud-based service like FreshBooks comes to mind -- it's basically free for a smaller-potatoes user, but you have to start paying for the "premium" option if you are a bigger organization or want access to all of the features.)
I'll just put it out there. I'm clamoring for the perfect cloud-based solution for grantseeking that meets the above four needs!
Grants professional extraordinaire Heather Stombaugh wrote about three leading providers of cloud-based grants management software -- PhilanTrack for Nonprofits by Philantech, the Raiser's Edge by Blackbaud, and eCivis Grants Management Software. They each sound quite appealing, but the barrier is that the organizations I've worked for in the past haven't been interested in investing in grants management software.
Please comment to let me know your thoughts on this! Do you have suggestions? A favorite product? I'd love to hear about your experience!