Budgeting for Grants Software: Could a Grants Management Platform Increase Your Impact?

01/06/2020

It might feel like there’s no wiggle room when your organization is budgeting for grants software. In fact, it might sound downright extravagant. But it’s important not to jump to conclusions. Doing the math before you rule it out may yield surprising results—and using a grant review platform could very well save you a significant amount of time and money in the long run, while increasing both the quality and quantity of your applications. 

To determine if budgeting for grants software could ultimately benefit you and keep you in the black, ask the following questions:

  • How many of your employees spend time reviewing grants or engaging in grant-related administrative tasks? 
  • How long are these tasks taking, and how much are your employees being paid? 
  • What materials and resources does your team use to review grants, and how much do they cost? 
  • What other tasks could your employees engage in if they weren’t spending so much time on collecting, reviewing, and selecting grants? How could those other tasks help improve your organization’s mission and impact? 

After you’ve crunched the numbers, you might be surprised how much time and money you’re spending on grant review, as well as how much more you could accomplish if you had those resources back.

10 Things to Remember When Budgeting For Grants Software

Some organizations, like Ball State University and the Montana Department of Commerce ICED, have found that using grants software actually saves money and reduces the labor involved with the review process. Employees who spent hours reviewing grants or emailing with grantees suddenly had much more free time to focus on increasing their organization’s impact in other ways. 

When considering budgeting for grants software, here are ten ways you can save time (thereby also saving money) and increase your impact. 

1. It will shorten your training period

Since grants software is designed to be intuitive, training employees how to use it is a quick and easy process. According to a manager with the Montana Department of Commerce ICED, the training that is usually required when introducing new tools was greatly reduced.

Chances are, your organization has some employees who are tech savvy and some who aren’t, but with short training periods and a user-friendly experience, grants software, like Submittable’s platform, is designed to reduce your headaches—not give you more. Easier training means less time and money before you even get to work. 

2. It will simplify you submission periods

Organizations that accept grant applications often have to open and close submission periods in order to stagger the review process. When accepting applications via email, this makes sense because inboxes can become quickly flooded. However, with grants software, it’s possible to accept applications either all at once, or in fewer, more limited periods. Being able to view applications outside of your inbox and to review them in a timeframe that suits your staff’s availability means that your organization doesn’t have to spend extra time plotting out a calendar of staggered submissions and review periods. 

3. It will make reviewing much easier and faster 

Grants submission software can be customized to require applicants to fill out specific fields. If your organization awards different types or amounts of grants, making use of this feature will help you keep your applications organized by grant category. Additionally, using labels to differentiate sub-categories in your applications will help you quickly identify similar proposals. Applying filters can also help you sift through your applications, make comparisons between proposals, and identify the strongest applications. 

4. It will create a user-friendly capacity and interface

Grants submissions software, like Submittable, can accept over 50 different file types, a feature that makes the application process easier for applicants and reviewers alike. The software also allows for easy viewing online with no need for downloading or converting files.

As reported by Submittable users at the Montana Department of Commerce ICED, “Once folks saw they could access applications in real time, make changes, remotely communicate decisions and questions, perform reviews, and have one central place to access applications, they became comfortable with the process.”

5. It will streamline your review process

No matter how big or small your review team is, grants software allows you to assign specific applications or groups of applications to various team members. By breaking up your workload or having multiple people review batches of applications, you can customize your review process in a way that makes sense for your organization. The ability to provide notes, rate an application, and interact with other reviewers through the software’s platform makes the review process efficient and easy to track. 

6. It will increase the quantity of applications

Grants management software not only makes it easier for you to review grants, it also makes it easier for grant writers and grant seekers to apply for grants. When your grant application is easy to find online and a breeze to fill out, your reach will increase right along with your interested parties. With fewer barriers toward entry, you’ll have more opportunities to find the perfect fit for your funds.

7. It will increase the quality of applications

Grant management software also makes it possible for you to optimize your application form. Asking your grant seekers specific questions before your review process begins ensures that everyone who applies has already qualified for the grant in basic and straightforward ways. Those who don’t qualify will clearly understand that from the guidelines, or they won’t be able to turn in their application if they can’t complete your required fields.

8. It will eliminate printing and data transfer

For some organizations, the work-around for eliminating email review confusion has been to print massive stacks of grant applications for manual review. While this ensures that every application is read, printing even a limited number of grant applications can take a toll on your office supply budget. Since grants software allows you to review applications in real time, online, you can conserve your paper and toner budget for other things. 

9. It will set you up for instant reporting

When your entire review and collection process is in one place, it makes reporting on your grant selection process easier, which in turn makes it easier to improve your grant selection process in the future. Break down your applications by label or demographic, and even track your funding on your platform, while saying goodbye to entering data into spreadsheets.

When you’re budgeting for grants software, you’re also budgeting for better ways to report on your process and better ways to track funding. 

10. It will increase efficiency and save time at every step

Software developers want to make it easy on you. Using email to review grant applications opens the door to problems and inefficiencies—email was not designed to handle application submissions. Not only do you have to remember to share with all the right people, but you have to download files, upload files, and try to track who has reviewed which applications. This is messy, frustrating, and time consuming. Grants software, like Submittable, can help you speed up the review process while preventing lost applications and files. 

Remember: saving time = saving money

Saving time on grant application means that your organization can check other items off of your to-do list.

Paying employees to review grant applications for hours and hours can often feel counter-intuitive—rather, you want to allocate as much of your available funds to the awardees so they can accomplish their important work.

At Ball State University, they noted that, “In addition to cutting review time down by at least 10 percent, switching to Submittable saved the office’s student employee around 10 hours per week previously spent on manual processes.”

If that ten hours of paid work can be spent on things other than reviewing applications, you’ve saved money for your organization.  

Increasingly, organizations are tightening their budgets and trying to shrink their overhead. However, as laid out in Tackling the Overhead Myth, overhead isn’t always the budget-sucking behemoth it’s made out to be. Not only can grants software save you the headache of staggered submissions and complicated manual review processes, it can actually save your organization time and money. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Also, eliminating lost emails and huge files you may not be able to view? Priceless. 

Are you budgeting for grants software but not sure where to start? Find out if using Submittable’s grant management platform could save your organization money or increase your impact by talking with our team and trying our software for free. 

Emily Withnall

Emily Withnall is a freelance writer and editor. She also teaches poetry in public schools in the Missoula area as well as at the Missoula County Detention Center. Some of her work is available at emilywithnall.com.