OmniStar Grants

Grantmaking Best Practices

OmniStar is an industry-leading, cloud-based, end-to-end grants management solution. Built in consultation with experts and grantmaking practitioners, OmniStar can be personalised to suit individual organisations’ objectives. It has been continuously improved over the past 15 years, on advice from grantmaking professionals.

OmniStar is based on grantmaking best practices, making it the gold standard solution to support grants management. OmniStar ensures grantmaking decisions are informed by real facts in real time.

With a grants management solution built on grantmaking best practices, grant managers like you, can expect improvements in several aspects of your grantmaking. These include productivity improvements from more efficient grant application and assessment processes, and better alignment of your grant programs with your organisation’s objectives.

The Importance of Best Practices in Grantmaking

Grantmaking is a complex process. Grantmaking organisations often tackle big problems such as alleviating poverty or improving the quality of women’s education in the world’s most vulnerable populations. When the scope is wide, defining how and what matters can be complicated. As a result, designing grant programs is never an easy job. Applying grantmaking best practices can help you to focus.

Even after you’ve designed your grant program, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating your program can present a number of challenges. Missing information or scattered data from poorly defined metrics are common risks that will leave you with little or no clue about how well your grantees are delivering, and whether or not they are making an impact.

Constrained resources often limit grantmaking organisations’ ability to make the best of their programs. Research shows that following grantmaking best practices can help you to produce optimal results.

Building on long-term industry experience, we summarise nine grantmaking best practices that every grantmaker should implement.

 

Nine Grantmaking Best Practices

  1. Establish A Clear Vision and Mission

One of the best practices in grantmaking, is to establish a clear vision and mission for your grants program. Spending time during your planning and design phase to flesh out your grants program’s vision and mission, will set a cornerstone for your success. It will help you to focus on the outcomes and impact you want from your funding, and your grantseekers to know whether or not your funding opportunity aligns with their values. As a grants program manager, you can review your  organisation’s strategic objectives and then think about how ‘giving’ can operationalise these objectives. This will then inform your grantmaking strategy.

 

  1. Determine the Funding Focus

One strategy for good grantmaking is to have a specific focus for your funding. Having a  funding focus can help you to develop your grant assessment guidelines, by defining “deal-makers” and “deal-breakers”.

“Deal-makers” might include grant applications that:
• Match your geographic or demographic area of focus
• Are from organisations with a strong network of community leaders who align with your niche community focus
• Come highly recommended by trusted colleagues.

On the other hand,
“Deal-breakers” might be grant applications from organisations that:
• Have a notable deficit in their financial report
• Lack project experience
• Don’t have an organisational sustainability plan
• Have biases and prejudices that conflict with your organisation’s values and objectives.

 

  1. Provide Clear, Transparent Guidelines for Grant Seekers

Once you know your focus, if you’re following grantmaking best practices you would then need to develop clear guidelines for your grant applications. Comprehensive submission guidelines would include:
• Clear details about eligibility
• Timelines outlining each stage of the application and evaluation processes
• Details about the information you will need from grantseekers at each stage of the grants lifecycle
• Evaluation criteria.

Remember to keep the guidelines succinct and make it easy for your grantseekers to understand their obligations.

 

  1. Ensure Expectations Are in Line with the Size of the Grant

It’s logical to anticipate that you’ll expect more from bigger grant programs. If you’re following grantmaking best practices, it’s important to make your expectations clear. Be specific about the level of detail you need in grant applications, and the evidence your grantseekers will need to provide when reporting. This will of course vary with the size of your grant. Providing clarity about what you expect will ensure your grantseekers are not unnecessarily overwhelmed with administration for small grants, but understand the need for larger grants to have more comprehensive requirements for reporting outcomes and impact.

 

  1. Streamline the Application Process as Much as Possible

When you start accepting applications, you can expect your administrative load to build. To keep on top of your workload and not lose sight of the big picture, you need to streamline your grant application process as much as possible. Savvy grants managers who are looking to follow grantmaking best practices, are benefitting from using Grant Management Software (GMS). GMS will reduce your manual workload with automated workflows and advanced record-keeping, and help you to better manage your grant applications.

 

  1. Rely on A Multi-Faceted, Efficient Platform Like OmniStar Grants

Not all grants management solutions are created equal. Your organisation may already have an existing solution in place, or perhaps use an online survey tool or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. These tools and systems may address some of your grants management pain, but unless they are built specifically for grants management, they may need costly development and customisation to meet your needs.

OmniStar Grants, one of the leading GMS solutions, is specifically designed for grants management. It will maximise your productivity with automated features such as notifications, workflow, dashboards and reporting. OmniStar Grants can adapt to meet your specific grantmaking processes.

 

  1. Design A Process that Will Filter Out Unfit Applicants

Best practice in grantmaking includes having a process to filter out unfit applicants. This starts with defining your eligibility criteria, and then excluding applicants who don’t meet your mandatory requirements, at the earliest possible stage of assessment. Many grantmakers use an online survey for this purpose, and then manually apply the results to their assessment process. With a purpose-built GMS you can incorporate this functionality so that it can automatically filter out unfit applicants at the outset, and email them to let them know that they’ve been unsuccessful. Less work for you!

 

  1. Set Reporting Requirements in Place

Once your grant program has rolled out, you and your grantee need to work together to keep track of the project’s progress. You can implement the following best practices in grantmaking reporting to ensure stewardship and accountability:
• Establish and reinforce performance measures based on the impact your grant program is trying to achieve
• Create a consistent reporting template to ensure you’ll have the data you need to have confidence in your grantees’ progress
• Establish checking mechanisms to make sure targets, milestones, and reporting deadlines are met.

 

  1. Use Data to Improve the Process for Next Time

A good reporting system will gather critical data to provide meaningful insights into your grants program. These data and insights will help you to measure the impact of your program and provide comparison data over time, and between programs. Having access to the right data will also help you to design and improve future programs. To have quality insights, you’ll need efficient ways to capture and report on your grants programs. Do you have the right system in place?

 

Implement Grantmaking Best Practices with OmniStar Grants

Grantmaking organisations often refrain from using a purpose-built grant management software (GMS) and rely instead on existing tools and inefficient manual processes. Some think their existing systems, like online survey tools or CRMs, are good enough, but GMS will ensure that your grant programs align with grantmaking best practices.

Grants management is complex. It makes sense to have a system to seamlessly manage the entire process from program development through to acquittal. More efficient administration means more money to give, and more time to focus on your grant funding strategy.

OmniStar Grants, an industry-leading, cloud-based, end-to-end grants management solution, is one of the leading GMS solutions. Its automated workflows will help you to reduce the time, cost, and effort of managing your grants programs. 

Implementing best practices in grantmaking is easy when you rely on OmniStar Grants. Book a demo with us today.

Zarthost Boman
Written by: Sarah Jordaan June 2021

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