Which Vendor? Simplifying Online Grant Applications

Does anyone actually enjoy the grant writing process (aka the most frustrating, time consuming, and essential activity virtually every arts organization must go through at least once a year)? To those of you who enjoy all the paperwork, I salute you. For everyone else, I’m sure you will agree that the development of online grant systems have been a tremendous asset over the past several years.  Unfortunately, they do not always simplify the process. Passwords are forgotten, the grantee cannot preview the full application, every year the same information must be reentered, supplemental files are unable to attach, and heaven forbid there are not enough opportunities to save work.  Grantmakers, on the other hand, have to deal with potential duplicates in the database, an inability to format or customize applications, interim reports that are not integrated with the original application, and hundreds of applications from organizations and individuals who are not even eligible for their funding.

With all of these potential hassles and multiple vendors to choose from, how can grant makers possibly ensure they select the online grant application system that will work best for them?

Thanks to another informative report from Idealware, vendor selection does no longer have to be such a completely overwhelming process. 

“Streamlining Online Grant Applications: A Review of Vendors” is a collaborative effort between Idealware, Project Streamline and the Grants Managers Network to assist grant makers in comparing various systems against the same criteria.

Vendors reviewed in the report include:

  • EasyGrant by Altum
  • eGrant* by Bromelkamp
  • WebGrants by Dulles Technology Partners
  • Grant Lifecycle Manager by Foundant Technologies
  • IGAM by MicroEdge
  • Common Grant Application by Ocean Peak
  • PhilanTrack by PhilanTech

It is important to note that the review’s main focus was not every specific functionality of each vendor, but rather those features which best reduced the administrative burden, such as:

  • Getting Started: Ease for Applicant
  • Getting Started: Reuse of Information
  • Overall Ease of Use
  • Good Form Design: Self Service
  • Flexibility of Forms
  • Support for Multiple Stages
  • Information Sharing: Collaboration
  • Information Sharing: Data Export/ Access
  • Product Background

I would not recommend making a decision based on just the paragraph summaries of each system, which did not always compare the same criteria.  Instead, take the time to look through the complete report wherein each system is evaluated in the above categories through various “essential standards” and “gold standards.”   These include elements as simple as required fields and word counter to things as complex as branch logic and extranet capabilities. Additionally, further information is included in the full report, such as costs, technical setup, technical support, current number of clients, and product history.

Although the systems reviewed in this report are not the only tools available, this report is a great starting point and resource for all grantmakers looking to simplify their grant application process.

For more detailed information, download the full report from Idealware for free!

*eGrant began as a product of the Center for Arts Management and Technology, home of this blog