Creating a Cost-Effective Grant Management System - Exponent Philanthropy
A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

Creating a Cost-Effective Grant Management System

Photo by Kampus Production

You are not alone if you feel stuck administering grants for your small-staffed foundation using sticky notes, whiteboards, or spreadsheets. For many lean foundations, the high costs of implementing and maintaining a purpose-built grant management system (GMS) can be prohibitive. However, by leveraging the nonprofit license donation programs from industry-leading technology providers, you can create a unified GMS solution with minimal implementation costs and no ongoing license fees.

Salesforce’s Power of Us Program

The Power of Us Program provides Salesforce technology to foundations by donating ten free user licenses of the world’s #1 CRM platform. With Salesforce, you can effectively track and manage relationships, streamline grantmaking efforts, and gain valuable insights into your foundation’s activities.

Google’s Workspace for Nonprofits

Google for Nonprofits offers foundations access to popular tools like Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). The best part about Google for Nonprofits is that it is free, allowing your foundation to enhance operations at no cost. Google Workspace offers productivity tools like email, document collaboration, and cloud storage.

Integrating Google and Salesforce

By integrating Salesforce and Google Workspace, you can create a unified, intuitive online platform that supports and fosters:

  • Grant Lifecycle Management: Create a versatile system that caters to the diverse needs of lean and small-staffed foundations, supporting traditional grant lifecycles and trust-based grantmaking processes. Foundations need the flexibility to customize and adapt their GMS to align with their specific grantmaking practices.
  • Relationship Management (CRM): With Salesforce CRM, foundations can prioritize relationships with individuals and organizations. These connections foster collaboration, trust, and learning. Assessing alignment with potential grantees informs funding decisions, while ongoing engagement supports progress, guidance, and capacity building. Collaborative partnerships enable tailored support, resource leverage, and innovation. Insights from grantees enhance foundation strategies. By investing in relationships, foundations empower grantees and drive meaningful change.
  • Collaboration: Internal and external collaboration drives innovation, productivity, and problem-solving. Within your foundation, collaboration encourages teamwork, knowledge sharing, and synergy among decision-makers. Externally, collaboration brings together diverse skills, resources, and networks, enabling effective solutions. Collaborative partnerships allow for the leveraging of expertise. Collaboration is facilitated using both Salesforce and Google Workspace.

Evaluation and Implementation for Your Foundation

  1. Readiness: Before pursuing this project, identify an internal system administrator and a consulting partner to ensure you fully leverage the Google and Salesforce platforms for your foundation’s specific needs. Form a project team. This is not a do-it-yourself project.
  2. Eligibility: Your foundation must be tax-exempt under the U.S. Internal Revenue Codes as a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization. Apply for and be accepted into Google and Salesforce’s nonprofit license donation programs.
  3. Plan and Fund Your Implementation: Develop an implementation plan, including timelines, milestones, and responsibilities. Ensure the plan includes data migration, system configuration, and testing phases. Although no ongoing license fees exist, plan to spend between ten and fifteen thousand dollars for implementation consulting and configuration.
  4. System Configuration: Customize the GMS to fit your foundation’s processes and workflows. Set up user roles, permissions, and security settings.
  5. Training and Support: Plan training for all users, including directors, grant administrators, and managers.
  6. Go Live: If possible, roll out the GMS in phases to manage unforeseen issues. Monitor the system closely during the initial period and address any problems promptly.
  7. Evaluation and Continuous Improvement: Gather user feedback to identify improvement areas. Continuously update and refine the system based on user feedback and changing needs.

Have You Registered for Exponent’s Annual Conference?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

About the Author

John Licata has over 20 years of experience successfully implementing grant management solutions. He is the Co-founder of Sensible Philanthropy Support Systems. For more information about creating a cost-effective grant management system, visit

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *