2021: Our Year in Review


Last year, around this time, I wrote a 2020 summary post for Submittable, and got to use fun words like dumpster fire and $%#&-storm. 

This year (as our card above illustrates), it feels a little bit more like a time-warp. Did we launch Impact Reports three weeks ago, or six months ago? I showed up at an old friend’s the other day to meet her baby, and instead I was greeted by a child that could speak in sentences. 

Suffice it to say, it’s a strange feeling. The reality is, although the shock and tumultuousness of 2020 has worn off, exhaustion has, for many of us, set in. That’s part of why pausing to take stock of 2021 feels important. 

Luckily, at Submittable, we have front row seats to a lot of the good that has come out of this year. We continue to be inspired and encouraged by the way our customers use our platform to help others. To call out just a few great initiatives, our customers have:

  • Provided relief funds to refugees and undocumented persons who didn’t qualify for the federal stimulus. 
  • Invested in the businesses and mentorship of real estate developers of color to help them shape the future of housing in their own communities. 
  • Supported Black social media content creators to spark community, elevate their vision, and empower them to build successful networks. 

So let’s take a moment at year’s end to celebrate this good work. And we’ll let you know what we’ve been up to at Submittable, too. 

Innovating for the future

Our technology is part of what powers all this good work. Here’s how the product has evolved in the last year. 

Brand spanking new stuff

Let’s begin with a quick roundup of the brand new, game-changing features we released in 2021.

Funds Distribution

Early in 2021, we launched Funds Distribution, a new capability that brings the full life-cycle of funding programs into one platform. After making an award, a simple click of the Send Funds Now button puts the wheels in motion—through our partnerships with financial institutions, awardees can receive electronic payment in as little as 48 hours

Automated Review

More and more of our clients are running big, ambitious programs that receive tens of thousands of applications. With that high volume comes a big human toll on review teams—and an increase in the risk of human error, fraud, and the misappropriation of funds. Automated Review lets smart tech take care of data extraction, validation, and correlation, as well as application analysis and scoring based on custom-defined business logic. It all helps organizations run better, faster, more objective review processes with fewer staff. 

Impact Reporting

Assessing a program’s impact is essential. It’s how organizations measure to see if they’re on track to meet their goals. It helps identify learning that builds stronger programs in the future. And it demonstrates results to stakeholders to ensure future investment. Submittable’s Impact Reports aggregates quantitative and qualitative data to help tell the full story of your program impact

DocuSign Integration

Many of our clients require signatures on grant agreements, NDAs, or other contracts. Now, they can seamlessly trigger a DocuSign from within Submittable, as well as automatically pull Submittable data into DocuSign templates, such as submitter name, client organization, or program.

Iterate ‘til you make it

We didn’t stop at inventing new things. Our product development team spent a ton of time last year on more subtle improvements—the kinds of little changes that make a big difference. A few top enhancements include: 

  • A form field designed to securely collect and validate banking details 
  • A new word and character counter to improve the applicant experience
  • The removal of ableist language from the product in favor of the term concealed
  • The ability to add an attachment to Additional Forms, for agreements and other documents
  • Sharing customer Account IDs to provide better, faster service across our teams
  • Adding 118 currencies to the number field in the form builder

The end of an upgrade era

This one was a huge milestone—in 2021, we successfully upgraded every single Submittable customer to our new form engine. 

We’re so happy that all Submittable clients are now enjoying the very best that Submittable has to offer, and that we will be able to provide clearer guidance and advice in our Help Center and across our customer success teams (i.e. one set of instructions for everyone). Sunsetting the legacy platform also frees up our product development resources to focus on innovating, as we work to build the new features that will power the social impact programs of the future.

As for us…

Beyond the evolution of our product, 2021 has been a year of growth for us as a company. 

Expanding our capacity 

Our team grew. We are now 130 strong and we’re thrilled to supplement our Missoula, MT headquarters with a satellite office in Bellevue, Washington, where more and more of our teammates find themselves. We’ve been excited to see a lot of that expansion spearheaded by our colleagues’ professional growth, with 29 internal promotions, as well as so many new faces to welcome into the Submittable family.

Evolving the conversation

As a member of the marketing team myself, I’d be remiss not to mention that we innovated, too: we launched a podcast, Impact Audio. Impact Audio features short conversations (and a few longer ones) with social impact experts and practitioners, covering the worlds of philanthropy, nonprofits, corporate citizenship, and social change. 

To highlight just a bit of Season One, we featured:

It’s all designed to help organizations discover smarter ways to work, strategies to further equity, and actionable advice on the journey to positive change. We can’t wait to see you for Season Two. 

Renewing our commitment

2021 was the year that we crystallized our corporate purpose: to accelerate mission-driven work. And it extends beyond our product. 

For instance, we recognize Submittable’s unique position to influence best practices among our clients. Impact Audio is just the latest example of our continued work to help clients reduce bias and increase equality across the myriad kinds of opportunities offered through the platform. From a webinar with our clients Artists Trust about strategies for grantmakers to practice anti-racism, to our deep dive and practical advice on giving unrestricted funds, we’re doing our part to help push the industry forward for a better tomorrow.

We launched an employee volunteering program and have been proud to partner with local food banks in both the Missoula and Seattle area. 

We have also seeded a community investment program, to grant four nonprofits with unrestricted funds early in 2022.

Corporate social responsibility is evolving and improving—and we are committed to showing up for our community, employees, customers, and investors in every way that we can, now and into the future. 

Onward and upward

As I write, visiting family at my childhood home, I’m crossing my fingers I can make it back home to Missoula without bringing Omicron along. That we are still facing a lot of challenges as a global society is front of mind, to say the least. 

But I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to reflect and appreciate the good work that so many of Submittable’s customers are doing. It touches millions of people in communities around the world, and makes a difference. I’m proud of it. And if you’re a part of it, I hope you’re proud too. If you want to join us, come on in. We’re expecting great things in 2022.

Natalya Taylor

Natalya is the director of product marketing at Submittable and is focused on helping organizations get a ton of value out of the platform. She is a bookworm, adventure enthusiast and card-carrying cat lady as well as a writer and yogi.