In the world of philanthropy, there is significant movement toward more effective reporting and transparency into decision-making and collaboration. Some foundations are banding together to promise more analytical reporting and greater insight into their successes and failures in grantmaking. For instance, the website Glasspockets has sprung up as a resource for philanthropists to gain information and share ideas about achieving greater transparency. These moves are made more effective through the use of grant management software and other available technologies.

More diverse reporting that is able to be made available to a wider audience can potentially attract nonprofits whose projects are a better fit for your foundation purpose. In addition, thorough reporting can help your foundation determine what’s working and what’s not, which can provide the valuable information you need when detailing your plans for growth.

A Good story

According to a blog from Ashley Good, CEO and Founder of Fail Forward for Glass Pockets, there are good reasons why grantmakers should share their failures along with their successes. In the end, we often learn more from failure than success, as long as we take a moment to analyze why things went wrong. The author wrote about an experience working on an agriculture project in Ghana, which had been funded by the United Nations. After a while, Good and her team began to see many flaws in the program design. When an evaluator from the UN came to assess the project, her team members remained quiet about the problems. However, after some reflection, they realized the mistakes the project designers made were doomed to be repeated because they hadn’t been reported effectively.

Thorough reporting doesn’t just help you advance your own cause and maintain compliance, it can also help your grantees create better projects and write better proposals. However, without the right technology, proper reporting can be difficult.

Collaborate more effectively with tools

With collaborative tools like CommunityForce’s grant management software, foundations can keep better track of which projects they are funding and when. In addition, once the grant cycle is over, the reporting process is made easier with the use of multiple reporting tools, including a full-scale business intelligence tool that mines data from throughout the platform to deliver deep-diving visualizations and analytics. When grant makers have a better handle on the projects they’ve funded, it is far easier to examine every project more thoroughly and ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of each.

These tools are also becoming increasingly imperative for grant makers as the philanthropic landscape becomes more collaborative in nature. According to Foundation Center, it’s becoming more common for foundations to pool resources and fund projects collaboratively. A 2012 survey from the organization found that more than half of the 1,077 survey respondents had collaborated with another funder. Of these, 23 percent had pooled funds and 44 percent had created strategic partnerships.

For philanthropists to work together efficiently, they need good digital tools that allow collaborative visibility into one another’s processes. It’s also important to be able to see where funds are going using more sophisticated methods than databases and spreadsheets, which can cause data to become soiled on-site. In the 21st century, foundations need to utilize the tools available to them in order to make these kinds of strategies possible.