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A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems 2016

May 1, 2016

This report has been released by Grants Managers Network (GMN) and Technology Affinity Group (TAG), with research conducted by Idealware. The report compares 29 grants management systems across 174 requirements criteria, looks at what each system does, and compares the strengths and weaknesses of each system available to grantmakers. The report looks at how they stack up against high-level categories and details the functionality of each system against specific criteria important to the grant-making community.

Nonprofit Performance Management: Using Data to Measure and Improve Programs

August 7, 2014

Tracking and measuring data can give nonprofits a better understanding of the populations they serve and how they serve them. It can also help them identify areas they can improve to boost the reach and effectiveness of their programs. But many organizations struggle with the idea of using data.How do successful nonprofits go about the process of implementing their data practices? What software do they use? What are the obstacles they face, and how do they overcome them? To find out, we reached out to our network of experts and consultants for examples of organizations that were successfully using data to improve and direct their work, and narrowed their list of recommendations down to 10 nonprofits of different sizes, missions, and locations.We talked to staffers at each who were involved with data and analyzed the information we gathered for common themes, best practices, and any patterns that might be useful. We also asked them for advice for other organizations looking to replicate their successes and learn from their mistakes.From those 10 organizations, we chose seven for case studies about the different ways they were using data. This report is built around those case studies and the additional conversations we had.

The Reality of Measuring Human Service Programs: Results of a Survey

January 28, 2014

In the summer of 2013, Idealware created and distributed a survey to learn how human service organizations from their own mailing list are actually using technology to measure and evaluate the outcomes of their programs. The suvey looked at a general overview of outcomes measurement and program evaluation topics, from how frequently they look at data and how much time they spend doing so to what types of metrics the organizations were tracking. To further understand the realities of measuring program effectiveness, Idealware conducted a site visit and interview of three human service organizations in Portland, Maine. The results clearly show that the respondents are struggling to measure their programs.

A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems

November 11, 2013

This in-depth report has been expanded to look at the features and processes used by 28 grants management systems to help private foundations accept and review applications and track grants throughout their life cycles. This report compares the strengths and weaknesses of these different grants management packages to see how they stack up against 19 high-level categories and details the functionality of each against more than 180 specific criteria. For the first time, this edition also includes survey data collected from nonprofit and foundation staff members who use these systems regarding their experience with the training, support, and implementation services offered by the vendors.The grants management software marketplace has never had a better set of options to support efficient and effective grantmaking, and we designed this report to help grantmakers understand how all these options compare.Download the report for free from any of the three partners websites: (, (, or ( edition reviews the following systems: Altum Easygrants, Altum proposalCENTRAL, Bromelkamp, Bromelkamp First Pearl, Closerware GrantMaker, Cybergrants, DonationXchange, Dulles Technology Partners WebGrants, Foundant Grant Lifecyle Manager, FluidReview, FusionLabs GE/Spectrum, Good Done Great Grant Management System, GrantStream GrantRight™, JK Group EasyMatch, MicroEdge GIFTS, MicroEdge GIFTS Alta, MicroEdge, GIFTS Online, MOSAIC GEMS, NPower FoundationConnect, Oceanpeak Inc., Common Grant Application, PhilanTech PhilanTrack, PowerOFFICE Software Systems Inc.PowerOffice, SmartSimple GMS360°, Solpath Fluxx, Versaic Grants, WESTAF GrantsOnline™, Wizehive, and ZoomGrants.

A Practical Guide to Integrated Communications: A Workbook for Nonprofits

October 1, 2013

Integrating your organization's communications can be difficult. You've likely given some thought to what you want to say, and new resources are always talking about defining the story, messaging, and call to action. This is important stuff, but it doesn't help with the tactical questions that users likely struggle with every day. How do you coordinate communications -- which might include email, direct mail, websites, social media, and other channels -- so they all feel like they're coming from the same organization without duplicating messages or bombarding people with requests for money and time? How do you try to integrate communications about your campaigns and the things you need with ongoing community building, putting out useful content, and curating the work of others? And how do you schedule it all so you can know what to do -- and when -- without ittaking over your life?Those are a lot of questions, and that's exactly why we created this workbook. This interactive guide is designed to serve as your blueprint as you work to bring together the many different channels you use to communicate with constituents, and the manydifferent ways you communicate with them. As you complete the worksheets, they'll walk you through an audit of what you're currently doing, teach you to think through what you should be doing, and help you create a tactical plan and schedule to organize your approach to what you're communicating, when, and through which channels. When you've finished, you'll understand how to create a cohesive integrated communications plan to keep people in the loop about your organization and the amazing things it accomplishes, to ask for money or other support, and to consistently engage supporters and keep them fired up about your cause.There are a couple of different ways to use this workbook. One is to plow through it from start to finish entirely by yourselfas a way to think through your own plan and the possibilities for your organization. Or you could consider it a thinking toolto help you work together with all the people involved in communications at your organization to come up with a plan. Inaddition, there are a number of worksheets that might be useful as standalone exercises -- don't feel you need to complete theentire guide if you can get value from individual worksheets.

Understanding Software for Program Evaluation

August 30, 2013

This best practice outlines the aspects of successful program management and evaluation, with a focus on the types of software that can facilitate them. It breaks program evaluation data collection, use, and reporting down into five discrete elements (central program data hub, auxiliary data systems, proactive data gathering, existing data gathering, and reporting/visualization) and delves into the tools used by various organization types for each category.

Data At a Foundation's Fingertips: Creating and Building Dashboards

March 5, 2013

Explains how a foundation can benefit from dashboards, and includes eight case studies from foundations that created their own: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Energy Foundation, Ford Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

A Consumers Guide to Software for Volunteer Management

May 1, 2011

Volunteer-based organizations have to keep track of a lot of data—for example, contact info, schedules, time sheets and job sites—and the right software can help, freeing time for managing volunteers. There are a number of products out there, but it's surprisingly hard to find information about them.We hope this report remedies that. We designed it to serve as an introduction to volunteer management software: what's out there, what to expect and how the different solutions compare.

Streamlining Online Grant Applications: A Review of Vendors

November 1, 2010

In this report different vendors are evaluated against Project Streamline's Essential and Gold Standard features for online applications and reporting.

Do You Need a New Donor Management System? A Step-by-step Decision Making Workbook

February 1, 2010

Workbook provides guidance when considering a switch to a new donor management system. Worksheets and questionnaires help you assess your needs, compare them with what you have, and pinpoint the benefits and costs of migrating to a new system. Includes resources for more information.