Do you have a holistic view of your grantmaking activities? Here's why you should.

March 5, 2018 Annie Rhodes

In today’s grantmaking world, foundations and grantees are being asked to provide in-depth detail about their grantmaking, at a level previously unseen. External pressure like new federal regulations are driving some of this shift, but internal stakeholders (like board members) at foundations are also pushing for this level of insight, and for good reason. Guidestar’s 2017 Guide to Good Practices in Foundation Operations listed transparency as key to eliminating foundation inefficiencies. They also noted that transparency can result in more responsive grantmaking. So why, according to a recent study done by IssueLab, are less than half of foundations evaluating their activity? Even crazier? Of those that do perform evaluations, 45% don’t share their learnings (externally as thought leaders or internally as guidance for future efforts).

Although we don’t know for sure, a possible explanation for the shortage of both evaluation activities and the sharing of such findings, is technology. To perform a true evaluation of your foundation’s grants activity and subsequent impact, you need access to a plethora of data points, from multiple sources and across several areas. To then craft the story of your overarching influence requires the involvement of different areas of your organization, including grants management, finance, donor relationships, and communications. In order to produce an accurate evaluation of your work, you need to have a holistic view of your organization and its activities.

At Blackbaud, we have known about this shift towards grantmaking as an organization-wide initiative, and anticipated the new demands on your grants management software that would result. With more accountability being requested from all areas of your foundation, we prioritized the creation of a clear workflow process that supports open communication between internal and external stakeholders. Grantees are encouraged to submit metrics on the outcomes of initiatives, and that data can be connected to other evaluation details from additional sources like public research or information from other grantees in that area. The result is clear reporting that can be filtered depending on the role of the user. One source of data means every stakeholder can be on the same page, whether it is regarding the status of a grant application or the behavior of your donors in the Northeast in the summer.

A total solution takes inputs from multiple areas of your organization, and combines them into digestible action steps, results, and analytics. It also connects you to total transparency at all levels of your foundation, an area shown to have measurable benefits. Learn more about what a total solution can mean for your organization here.

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