As anyone who works at a foundation knows, the grants review process can take up a significant amount of time. Once all the applicants have submitted their materials, the long hours of reviewing applications begins, and it can be tough. There’s a lot at stake when you’re selecting an organization for a grants, and you have to answer to many people. If your paperwork isn’t in order, you could encounter setbacks that take additional hours to correct. This is a familiar scenario to many granting institutions. So why is it that so many are still using the same old methods to go through the grant review process?

Grant management software opens doors

You’ve been putting in 80-hour weeks looking over candidate organizations and scoring them on a rubric, and you just want it to be over with, but you also want to be sure you’re making the right choice. You are assigned to a dozen or more applications, and you have to score them based on specific criteria, which can be comprehensive. A document from North Carolina Biotechnology Center outlines just a few of the rating areas for its grants, which include citing necessary evidence, communicating fitness for the grants in question and the construction of an effective plan for the funds. After all this, you have to make your score available to other raters.

That’s an awful lot of documents to shuffle through, but it’s all part of the process. To get through it, you concentrate on your end goal: distributing funds that will allow the recipient to enact positive change. But that doesn’t always make it easy to work late nights and deal with the eye strain of looking over hundreds of documents.

How can you speed up the process and make it more efficient? Digital solutions can help you accomplish this. Imagine being able to look at all your applicants side by side and easily see which still need review, which ones are complete and what scores other raters have given them. Doesn’t that sound way easier than entering this data into spreadsheets? A digital system can be transformative for foundations that still rely on a combination of word processing, databases and spreadsheets to evaluate potential grants recipients.

Process improvement increases flexibility

A guide from Homeland Security and Emergency Services makes an additional point about grant management procedures. It’s important to think about staff and volunteers when designing processes for grant review. For instance, how easy is it for newcomers to acclimate themselves to your review processes? Depending on what combination of spreadsheets, word documents and databases you use, learning the new system could be very difficult. As staff members come and go, processes tend to evolve as well. How easy is it to revise grant review procedures under your current system? Often, a change in workflow brings about additional hours of staff and employee time as these individuals go through spreadsheets and make adjustments by hand.