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EVEN WITH A SHOE FULL OF SLUSH: Spring Cleaning Your Grants Management

Spring is beginning to reveal itself in many parts of the country, and after the winter we had in Montana it may take weeks before we see the ground. As journalist Doug Larson quipped, “Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.” While this time of year is often associated with cleaning your house and removing clutter, it is also a great time to spring clean your work life. Auditing and cleaning up your GLM/SLM site will help you focus on items that need your attention and allow you to work more efficiently. 

Before you audit your GLM/SLM site, ask yourself what you would like to accomplish and think about having a big picture view of your most recent grant/scholarship cycle. 

Have you fielded too many questions from applicants and want to change your messaging around the application process?
Is the data you have been collecting useful in decision making and reporting? 
Are you using the data from all the questions you are asking on your application? 
Do you have yellow stages in your processes that need decisions or configuration to be confident the notifications and emails are functioning as you intend? 
Have you reviewed recent releases to make sure you are using the newer features that have been added to software?  

Checklist for auditing your site:

  • Merge Duplicate Organizations and consider turning on the duplicate tax ID warning in your site. (Information that will be merged: contacts, request history, past Charity Check, Organization comments and Organization documents.)
    • Note: There may be duplicate organizations in your site using the same “umbrella” tax ID, such as university departments, medical or hospital divisions, or organizations with multiple locations you would not want to merge. Your CSM can share best practices in regard to these types of organizations. 
  • Toggle off and archive processes.
    • Active processes show on the apply page even if the end date has passed. If there is no end date, new applications can be started.
    • Deactivated processes are no longer visible on the apply page and no new grants can be started. Once a Request (LOI or Application form) is started by an applicant -- even as a draft in your Draft workload page, this request will be on your dashboard until you take action on it.
    • It is best practice to archive processes when the full grant cycle has ended and all payments and follow-ups are completed. Forms attached to that process will also be archived. Administrators can archive a Process even before payment and follow up forms are submitted. Requests live on Dashboard until closed by the administrator whether or not a process is archived.
  • Review Site Attributes available to Administrators including updating your logon page.
  • Review Installments and Follow-Ups configuration and make any updates to auto-due dates, automatic emails and installment numbers as needed. 
  • Review current release notes and adapt the features that will benefit your grantmaking.
    • Google Translate
    • Custom Columns for standard and advanced clients
    • Collaborator
    • Reviewer Experience Dashboard
    • Enable Tabbed Applicant Dashboard
    • Add GuideStar questions to your applications
  • Review and clean-up any unused Saved Reports and Data Sets.
  • Update email templates and add merge fields within the form to personalize correspondence. 
  • Make sure to copy processes forward to set up a new process and then edit the forms and documents associated with the new process.
  • Deactivate users, both for your grantees and your own internal organization users.
  • Abandon/Deny pending drafts - Abandoning is for applicants who did not submit on time for the deadline or who would like to withdraw their request. Denying is a decision indicating the applicant did not meet requirements or is not eligible.
  • Close ‘Open Approvals’ that are complete. After all follow-ups have been marked complete and all payments have been entered for a request, and no more work needs to be done in the system by either the foundation or the grantee, it is a best practice to “Close” the request. When you close a Request, it is removed from your dashboard but is still accessible in the Organization’s Request Summary tab. The closed request is also available for reporting purposes.  
  • Review shared documents, email templates, merge templates. In these areas of your site, it is recommended you keep these lists up-to-date. Be advised that deleting any of these items will permanently erase them. You can archive email templates that are not actively tied to a process to use in the future.   
  • Review all your forms to see if adding instructions would help your applicants thoroughly complete the forms and alleviate their needing clarification from you. 
    • Increase necessary word or character count limits on text questions. 
  •  Review evaluation, decision and follow-up form configuration and edit forms where necessary. 

Reach out to schedule a time to meet with your CSM about any bottlenecks in your workflow process or any questions you have after reviewing the above checklist. Foundant has many features that may increase your productivity or make it easier on your applicants to apply to your processes  - such as Copy for administrators and applicants, Question Branching in applications and follow-up forms, preconfiguring installments, internal follow-ups, etc. - and your CSM will be happy to review and share those features with you.
The audit is a worthwhile exercise that takes patience and time to dig into all the aspects of your giving, but the results are beneficial to not only the performance of your site but your peace of mind that all the details of your giving are in order. It can improve performance, streamline your workflow, and identify opportunities to improve the way you serve grantees/applicants. 

Hopefully, this checklist will help you “wade through the slush” and spring clean your grant process effectively. After all, that slush in your shoes is great for bringing on beautiful spring flowers!

About the Author

As a certified SAFe Agile Scrum Master and SAFe Program Consultant, Nicole coaches three internal teams at Foundant. As a Scrum Master, she is a servant leader who facilitates teams to self-organize and work cross-functionally to meet their delivery goals. She also educates the team in Scrum processes and the SAFe framework. Her role assists the teams in creating high value products and services, identifying and eliminating impediments, and fostering an environment for high-performing team dynamics, continuous flow, and relentless improvement. Nicole has volunteered in philanthropy for several decades, investing in people, projects, and communities to make our world a better place. She has also served on the Board of Directors for both the Greater South Fork Community Foundation and the Bozeman Area Community Foundation. Nicole loves to be outdoors as much as she can; gardening, hiking, cross-country skiing or just enjoying the sunshine.

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