Top Five Challenges for Grantmakers and How to Fix Them

Awarding grants is a complex process. “Every step – from the creation of the grant application to monitoring and tracking of results – must be well thought out,” says Haifa Staiti, Project Manager, Philanthropic Solutions at SmartSimple.*
Haifa Staiti (@haifa_staiti)


Haifa speaks from experience. She’s a grant-making professional with nearly 10 years of experience in managing grant programs. Her areas of expertise include funding medical research, community health promotion, women’s education and empowerment, peace building and human rights, so she understands the challenges facing today’s research and granting organizations intimately.


What are the issues around creating, awarding and managing a grant? Haifa shares her top five challenges of the grants management process:


  1. Developing an application process that is user friendly. If your potential grantees can’t understand what you’re asking for, or find the process too complex or costly – needing to make multiple copies of proposals and shipping them – you may lose out on some great proposals. An online solution like SmartSimple can really make things easier for your applicants.


  1. Screening submitted applications. It’s not unusual for organizations to need to screen a high volume of applications in a short amount of time. With a paper-based system, it means going through each application one-by-one to check every single section before manually entering information into Excel or another database. Again, this is where a good online system can help by alerting applicants if their information is incomplete or inaccurate before they submit.


  1. Managing the review process. The biggest challenge is recruiting reviewers if you have an external review process. The other major pain point is quickly and accurately consolidating feedback and scores from multiple reviewers, then distilling that into summary information used to rank applications and inform funding decisions.

    Online platforms can offer options to make it easy for reviewers to participate in the process. With SmartSimple, for example, reviewers log in through their own portal, where they can share individual rankings, see consolidated scores and provide comments. This saves a lot of time and can shorten the review process considerably.


  1. Tracking payments and reports. Typically, grants are paid in multiple installments and grantees are required to submit progress reports. Often, grant payments are tied to these reports. That means future payments are not made until a progress report from the previous period has been submitted and approved. Tracking all of this information can be very challenging if you don’t have a sophisticated grants management system.


  1. Showing impact. There’s an increasing focus on impact from donors and the public. We no longer measure the quality of a non-profit by how well they control expenses. Grantmakers want to know exactly how their funding is driving change.

    Monitoring grants post-award that show a concrete impact is a major pain point. A good grants management system with strong post-award monitoring functionality that provides very detailed and comprehensive information is invaluable.


These challenges can all solved with the right grants management system (GMS), processes and professionals. The SmartSimple team has experts from the grants and research management sectors that will work closely with you to create a configured system that fits the way you work. Save time, reduce expenses and cut down on paper with a centralized system that provides everything for your entire community in one location.

Request a demo today to see SmartSimple’s endlessly configurable cloud-based solution in action!


*Haifa is currently Manager, Client Services at GrantBook.

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