Grant management software is a program or application that assists fund-seeking organizations such as non-profits and universities in administering and automating the grant process. Functions can include grant discovery, budget planning, peer collaboration, regulatory compliance, proposal submission, administrative reporting and project tracking. Available as self-hosted programs that are installed on the organization's servers, or as web-based cloud applications that are hosted on the provider's servers, grant management software helps grant managers, principal investigators, researchers and other individuals ease grant-related administrative burdens.
A grant manager (or grant administrator) can be responsible for many tasks—from grant writing to regulatory compliance. He or she can also be responsible for identifying grant project teams and ensuring teams are communicating effectively. These tasks are often time consuming. Grant management software is designed to reduce the time spent on these activities by automating functions such as opportunity discovery, peer collaboration and workflow tracking. Additionally grants management software can streamline granting activities relating to confirming the tax-exempt status of a not-for-profit as well as cross checking applicants against various terrorist watch lists such as OFAC.
Other roles include applicants (both individuals and organizations), researchers, reviewers and any other party that may need to be involved in the grant making processes.
Grant management software comes in multiple variations, and each offers its own set of tools to help streamline the management of the pre- and post-award processes.
The pre-award process encompasses everything done before a grant is awarded, such as searching for specific grant types open for application, writing and submitting the grant application, and receiving the rejection or denial letter from the potential grantor. The post-award process encompasses tasks after an award is won, such as purchasing research equipment, tracking and certifying research efforts, accounting tasks, and reporting to the grantor or grantors.
Some software variants provide features for the entire lifecycle of a grant. Other solutions offer comprehensive and targeted services for the pre-award process. Others focus on the grant discovery part of the pre-award process, yet others offer some post-award services.
More comprehensive solutions offer functionality that addresses all of the above aspects.
Most grant management solutions are available as a hosted service. Under this model, customers pay vendors for online access to the software. Commonly called SaaS (software as a service) or a cloud service, hosted software is available as an application that is run at vendors’ own facilities. One of the benefits of hosted software is that customers often need little or no internal IT support. Despite some concern over security, hosted services are usually more secure than nonprofits’ own IT systems.
Many nonprofits, schools and universities rely on grant funding. Each year, all U.S. grant sources give an estimated $1 trillion in grant money. The federal government alone spent $489 billion in grant funding in fiscal 2006. there is often confusion regarding the term Grant management in that many Grant managers control the disbursement of grant funds while other grant managers control the usage of received grant funds. this is an important distinction when deciding on the correct software for your organisation.
Grant management software companies operate in the information-management market.
Grant management software can help customers find grants by automatically searching known funding sources and alerting users when applicable grant opportunities are available. One site that grant discovery solutions can search is Grants.gov, which lists opportunities from 26 federal grant-making organizations. Other funding sources that can be included are foundations. There are hundreds of foundations in the United States, the top three being the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation and J. Paul Getty Trust, which have combined assets of $54.1 billion. In addition, some discovery solutions search for grants that are offered at the state level.
Preparing for award submissions, finding funding opportunities, and managing grant projects takes considerable collaboration. Some grant management software offer collaboration solutions to make this process easier. Collaboration solutions can help users review grant opportunities, vote on opportunities to apply for, and communicate with other project peers.
A select few software vendors deploy social-media applications to simplify collaboration, which help limit the sometimes cumbersome serial communications process of emails. Increasingly, researchers and others involved in the grant process are adept in modern technologies such as social media. Older professionals are using social media, too; according to a 2010 Pew Research Center poll, 47 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 used sites such as Facebook. As a result, social media tools are increasingly being used for business communications purposes, including the business of managing the grant process.
Organizations that receive funding often have to track grant-related activity and report results to grantors. These tasks can include creating and maintaining award documentation, preparing budgets, and ensuring fund use is within grantor compliance. Grant management software can offer solutions for these tasks. It can record who participates and manage grant-related documents such as letter templates as well as export data to programs such as Excel for easier reporting.
In addition to reporting for internal purposes, organizations such as the Foundation Center allow grant makers to export their reports in order to provide analysis on grant making activity on both a micro and macro level
Grant management software is designed to facilitate best practice grants management and ensure transparency in managing government funded program. the greatest challenge for these tools at present is to present the detailed and strategic views of the KPI's associated with the objectives of the Grant giving organisation. More and more government agencies are asked "how do you know you are making a difference" so the need for KPI reporting is critical.