These days, I'm thinking a lot about software to manage grant making processes. We’re working on a large project – including a survey, many interviews, and vendor research – to create a “consumer’s guide” to grants management software and an overview of gaps and issues in the market.
(By the way, do you work for an organization that MAKES grants? Please take our survey, to help in the research: http://www.performanceleaders.com/?grantsmgt
One of the initial stages for us is to try to get a sense of what’s out there. There’s far more research to come, but here’s my initial impressions of what grant management software is out there. This software is designed to help foundations manage and review incoming grant applications, track reporting requirements and outgoing payments for grantees, and create the many communications and reports needed throughout the process.MicroEdge GIFTS
is the 800 lb gorilla in the space, with a huge majority of the market share among large foundations. There's several levels, but all are powerful, expensive and complex installed packages, designed for organizations that have dedicated grants management staff that do much of the data entry and reporting from the system.
There are several web-based tools, also geared towards the large foundation space. Cybergrants
, and FoundationSource
are all in this space, but these tools put together have only a small fraction of GIFTS’ market share.
It’s not as clear what’s available for smaller foundations. Bromelkamp
offers several levels of their Pearl products, geared to suit a gamut of small to large foundations. These products are installed applications. PhilanTrack
offers a small foundation solution, though they are very new, and it’s unclear how many foundations, if any, are using it. Community TechKnowledge (CTK)
also offers a package in this realm, which has some uptake among United Ways.
Some of the packages cater to particular audiences. For instance, JK Group
works with corporate grant makers (Cybergrants
is mostly focused on this space as well).
Community foundations have a large set of additional needs, which means that most need specialized grants management software. In addition to paying out grants, community foundations need to fundraise
themselves. Often, money raised is devoted to restricted funds, which makes for very complicated tracking and accounting requirements to manage both money in and money out of dozens or even hundreds of funds. There’s a set of packages geared towards these needs: MicroEdge
) and Foundation Power; Bromelkamp
makes Community Pearl. I believe that FusionLab's GrantedGE
is also geared towards community foundations.
There’s a few people beginning to use Salesforce
in the grants management space. It’s an interesting fit – Salesforce
is a fairly powerful hosted tool geared towards companies who manage sales to other companies. It’s quite configurable, however, and has gotten a substantial amount of traction in the nonprofit world (thanks in no small part to the fact that Salesforce
donates up to 10 licenses for free to nonprofits). As grants management is, at least superficially, about managing data and workflow
around organizations, just as corporate sales are, my initial instinct is that it might work very well. Foundations would need to customize it, but this would be offset by the lack of license fees.
There’s a lot of additional packages, but I don’t have a good sense yet as to how they fit into the space. For instance, there’s ChesterCAP
, Foundant Technologies
, Bamboo Solutions
, and Grantium (formerly Infoterra)
This long list is particularly puzzling as a number of those we’ve
interviewed have told us there are very few packages available – that MicroEdge
(with GIFTS and FIMS
) has nearly a monopoly hold on the market. Are many of these packages used by very few foundations (and if so, how are they still in business)? Or are there perhaps different silos of the foundation world that don’t have much software cross-pollination, and we’ve
been talking to people within a single silo? There’s a lot more research yet to be done!
Do you have thoughts or insight into the world of grants management software? I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments here or at email@example.com