As a grant-maker, your organization has a mission to help nonprofits do good. When foundations are particularly excited about the work of a nonprofit, they may want to develop a relationship with this group. Grant-making isn’t a one-way street; once you’ve delivered funds, your relationship with the nonprofit grantee doesn’t end there. According to Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, when grant-making foundations are more engaged with their grantees, they’re likely to see better results. The organization cited data from a study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy that found a clear connection between effective strategies of foundation leaders and higher levels of engagement from stakeholders.

However, without the right tools in place to make this mission a reality, you can find yourself floundering in a sea of paperwork, which makes it hard to effectively develop relationships with real people. That’s the way it’s been for years, and perhaps it’s been fine so far, but if you start to look around at what organizations are doing, you may be surprised at what you see.

Grant management software makes a difference

According to a survey from Technology Affinity Group, grant-making foundations are increasingly turning to technology to improve processes related to grant management. From applications to reporting, the software can help you keep grantee data organized throughout the grant cycle. Rather than spending additional hours on paperwork, you may find it easier to solicit feedback from grantees and strengthen the other processes that are worthwhile to your foundation.

However, the survey determined that many foundations still haven’t made the transition to digital processing, or aren’t entirely happy with the system they have. Only 14 percent of respondents indicated their grant management system allowed them to be completely paperless. While there has been growth in software-as-a-service platforms, the majority of foundations still use on-site servers to store data. While these are better than paper-based processing systems, they can still be intractable and hard to scale if that ever becomes necessary. Finally, only 29 percent of respondents believe foundation executives totally understood the benefits of technology.

To reap the full benefits of grant management systems, staff may have to inform executives of what makes these software platforms helpful, not only for managing applications and reports but also for building relationships with grantees.

Connect with grantees more effectively

Your grantees have to report back to you about the use of funds, but your relationship can go beyond that. Strengthening your network has a positive impact on the work that you and your grantees do, and it can also help you improve your own procedures for grant management. Without getting feedback from grantees, your foundation could be operating in a vacuum. According to GEO, reaching out to stakeholders, including grantees, peer organizations, and community members, to find out how your work could improve is a way to start. A good software platform can facilitate this process by improving the efficiency of communication between you and your stakeholders, especially grantees.