Grants Management

Billy Fluck
Billy Fluck
  • Updated

Many arts organisations will be managing multiple grant applications and prospecting at the same time, so it’s helpful to store all of this information in Spektrix to prevent confusion in case of staff turnover or shifting responsibilities. If you’re a grant manager for one of these organisations, using Spektrix in this way should help you manage your workflow, keep on top of your deadlines for applications and reporting, and retain important relationship information for posterity.

This article is aimed at anyone who is managing grants and funding from trusts, foundations, and government bodies, and will go through the key aspects of prospecting, managing the application process, processing a gift, stewardship, and reporting - and in particular how Spektrix can be leveraged to simplify and keep track of this work.

We'll take you through the best practice process of handling a grant from start to finish using the Spektrix fundraising tools:

NOTE: this article assumes a basic knowledge of Spektrix and particularly the Opportunities Interface, but we’ve also linked out to relevant articles where possible so that you can investigate how to use each feature if you’re not familiar with it. Alternatively, you may want to check out these other articles for a more detailed explanation of Spektrix fundraising system concepts:

Prospecting

The first step to the process is always to identify prospects, and there are many places where you can look for grants from trusts, foundations, or government bodies. You could, for example, research organisations similar to yours to see who has awarded them grants in recent years, or go through documentation from where your organisation has received money in the past. Alternatively, you could search sites like the charities databases linked below for new ideas.

Whichever method(s) you choose, it’s important to ensure that you’re looking for grants that are a good fit for your organisation. Look for shared values, and the grant-giving capacity of - and applicant criteria outlined by - the grant-giving organisation.

Spektrix comes into play once you’ve found a prospect that’s a good fit for your organisation, as you’ll want to document it. If you do this in Spektrix you’ll not only be able to use the fundraising tools at your disposal to help you manage the whole life cycle of your grant, but you’ll also have a record of the grant and all of your actions that you can refer to in future when considering whether to approach the funder again.

Once you’ve identified a potential funder, you’ll need to create a record for the prospect by adding it to your system as an Organisation.

Adding prospects to Spektrix 
If you’re not familiar with how to create a customer record in Spektrix, read our article on Searching for, selecting and adding customer records before you go any further.

You can create a grant Organisation in exactly the same way as you would do an individual customer, either in the Sales Interface or via the People tab of the Opportunities Interface.

The purple note on the Organisation’s customer record is a great place to store information like their giving capacity, any criteria you must meet, the timeline for application submission and reporting, any guidelines they provide, and how best to get in touch. The more information you input at this stage, the easier the application process will be later. You might even include a link to their website for easy access.

Cultivation

As you cultivate and continue to research your prospects and narrow down which ones are the best to apply to, you will want to collect and store more information in Spektrix. The first thing to do is identify the key people at each organisation that you want to get in touch with. With those key contacts added into Spektrix you can connect them to the relevant Organisation using Relationships, and create Activities for specific people who will play a role in the life cycle of this grant - from the trustees to the grants manager and so forth. More on that next.

Adding and recording key contacts
You can add the contact(s) for the prospect to your database as you would any normal customer, and then link them to the grant Organisation via Relationships - check out our Customers and Relationships in Spektrix article for the details of how to do this. Assuming you have your Relationships set up, you can then set one contact as the Primary Contact for the Organisation.

You may want to create a new type of Relationship specific to these charities, if one doesn't already exist within your system. Here’s an example of what a Trustee Relationship would look like:

You may also want to create additional Relationships with these contacts if they have links to any existing individuals within your organisation. For example, if your Artistic Director (AD) is close to one of the trustees at this organisation, you could create a Relationship between your AD and the organisation to reflect the way they might be able to influence future conversations. This would help utilise the Relationship when it comes to cultivation as you would be able to easily see if there’s someone in particular who should be meeting with and contacting that organisation.

Each time you create a new contact, make sure that you include all of the necessary contact information so that you can get in touch with them when needed.

Linking prospects to Campaigns and Opportunities
The next step is to make sure each prospect is linked to a Campaign in Spektrix, for which you’ll need to have a Campaign and a new Opportunity. See the following articles for details of how to use those two pieces of Opportunities Interface functionality:

If you don’t already have a Campaign for the purposes of managing prospective trusts and foundations, it’s worth creating one now. We recommend having one overarching Campaign per financial year and then Sub-Campaigns under that for Individual Giving, Corporate Giving, Trusts and Foundations, etc. Get in touch with the Spektrix Support Team if you have questions about how to best structure your campaigns, or read our Campaign and Fund Structure Planning Guide.

Assuming you do have a Campaign in place, link each prospect to that Campaign by creating an Opportunity for them. At this point, it’s worth identifying which stage of the donor journey your prospect is in - most start in the Research or Cultivate stage, but here are some quick suggestions of what you might want to do:

  • If you already know a fair bit about the organisation, add them straight into the Cultivate stage
  • Alternatively, if you’re not familiar with the organisation then it’s best to start in Research. You can move them to the Cultivate stage once you’ve decided they’re a good fit for your organisation
  • Keeping organisations in the correct stage helps focus your attention on progressing them up the ladder. If you see at a certain point, for example, that most of your prospects are still in Research, maybe you need to make an effort to actively cultivate them earlier so they don’t get stuck there

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Managing Activities
Once you have an Opportunity for each prospect, you can continue adding notes to their customer records. More importantly, you can also add Activities to mark tasks that you or your team have accomplished, as well as those that still need to be done. Examples might include phone calls, invitations to events, reminders to submit your applications or reminders to write up your reports for the funding you received.

Read this article for details of how to create and manage Activities.

Having created an Activity, you can link an Organisation (and its Opportunity) to it to help you keep things organised. This will let you see not just what you need to accomplish overall, but what actions need doing for each prospect in particular.

You can also assign Activities to other users. For example, you might assign an Activity (such as Invite for Coffee) to a key communicator in your organisation (like the Artistic Director). By assigning Activities to certain users, those staff can easily look to see what tasks have been delegated to them and use their Activities as a to-do list, either in the system itself or in a report. See our guide on creating custom Activities tabs for more details.

NOTE: don’t forget to mark Activities as complete when you finish them. This way they aren’t clogging up your to-do list of tasks, but will still appear on the relevant Organisation’s record and in your list of completed actions.

Below are a few other things you might want to think about in terms of using Activities.

Upload attachments
You're likely to generate supporting documentation during the application process, such as completed grant applications, reporting guidelines, payment schedule documents, and acceptance or rejection letters. Upload these documents to each Activity as attachments to provide easier access to them for people within your organisation rather than keeping them stored on individual computers.

This helps mitigate the risk of any future turnover for your development staff, as new employees will easily be able to access their predecessors' documentation to gather information about past or ongoing funding relationships.

Automate
If you have a lot of email communication with prospects, use the Bcc Emails functionality to automatically record these conversations as Activities, helping you to save time and keep track of your key communications. Read this article for more information on how to set that up.

Make sure that everyone using the Opportunities Interface has their own personal Bcc email address so that Activities are created for the correct user. It’s useful to set up Bcc access for everyone in advance of the first time you want to use it.

Schedule and use reports
If you’re looking to report on your Activities, get in touch with the Spektrix Support team and let us know what you need so that we can help identify a suitable report for you.

Once you have a report that meets your team’s needs, schedule it to be delivered to your email inbox on a regular basis. For example, you might set up a Report Schedule including a report for the week’s due Activities every Monday. This will save you the time of running the report manually and also ensure that you don’t forget to run it. This article explains how Report Schedules work.

Use the Timeline
Use the Timeline feature to keep track of your planning and your schedule for a grant application - this is accessed via the organisation’s customer record in the Opportunities Interface. It provides a visual pathway for the Activities that you have completed and those that are still outstanding, to give you a clear picture of where you stand with that organisation.

The sample screenshot below gives a simplified idea of what a Timeline might look like (note that, in this example, we have successfully applied for funding, and are also planning to reapply once we’ve completely drawn down our current gift and submitted all necessary reports):

Applying for funding

Once you’ve decided that you have a good likelihood of securing a specific grant, the next step is to send in an application within the next application period. Make an Activity for your application and attach your completed application to it. We’d recommend that you create the Activity ahead of time to remind you of the due date for your application.

Alternatively, you might decide that a grant you’ve been investigating isn't the right match for your organisation. In that case, close the Opportunity - we recommend closing it at the stage that it’s in currently (whether that’s Research, Involve, Cultivate, etc.). This can help you when it comes to future solicitation, so you remember why you didn’t apply for a grant previously; you also might want to leave some comments on the organisation's purple note about why you decided against it.

Assuming you make an application, when you hear back from the grant you should be sure to record the outcome in Spektrix. Below are some suggestions for how to handle both successful and unsuccessful applications.

Managing successful applications
You’ll want to log that your application was successful in Spektrix, so create an Activity to record the full grant amount and when it was granted, making sure to attach guidelines for drawing down and reporting on the grant.

Then, create Pledges for the appropriate amount of time and instalments for the grant if it is not a one-time payment (for example, if you’re going to be receiving payments over a number of years in yearly increments). This article explains how to set up Pledges in the system and how to log payments - it’s important to remember to log the grant payments as instalments for their Pledge.

If the grant is going to be recognised across multiple financial years (and not only the year it was awarded in), and your Campaign Structure is set up by year, create Opportunities for each financial year it’s applicable to. Both our guide to Pledges and our article on Campaign and Fund Structure Planning Guide provide more information on how to go about doing this.

Managing unsuccessful applications
Even if an application wasn’t successful, it’s important to close the Opportunity and add in notes detailing the response along with information about why you weren’t successful. This may help if you apply to the same grant in the future as you can tailor your application to meet any feedback that you were given.

Looking back through unsuccessful applications may also allow you to identify whether these trusts and foundations had anything in common:

  • Perhaps your organisation is not a good fit for grants that focus on specific types of work or initiatives, such as education or accessibility
  • Do some of these grants specifically fund small organisations? Is your organisation too large to qualify for that funding?
  • Are any of these trusts continually over-committed? If so, it may be worth speaking directly with a trustee about the trust’s capacity before submitting another application

Be sure to check if the grant has guidelines for how long you have to wait before re-applying. You can then open a new Opportunity for the appropriate time in the future at which you can re-apply - open this right away, to help ensure you don’t forget about the grant or to apply again later down the road.

Stewardship

There are plenty of tools to help you continue to steward an organisation that gives a grant. You should continue updating and creating Activities, including communication with the grant organisation, any event invites you may send them, and funding reports you need to submit.

Record and track RSVPs and attendance using the Invitation Management tool within the Opportunities interface, which allows you to track event attendance via the individual employee’s record and the organisation record.  Read our Invitation Management article for more information.

Note that you can attach closed Opportunities to Activities, so there’s no need to keep an Opportunity open simply because you’re still stewarding the funder associated with it.

Reporting on progress
Use Spektrix reports to gather information related to the grant and help fulfil any reporting obligations. Among the suite of Standard Reports in Spektrix, the Campaign Summary and Opportunity Pipeline by Month reports may be helpful. These particular reports can help you keep track of your overall success on a campaign thus far, and reveal what still needs achieving.

  • The Campaign Summary report is run by Campaign and shows a summary row of the Campaign’s target amount, raised amount, pledged amount, etc. It also splits out each Campaign’s numbers with pie charts, visualisations, and item breakdowns
  • The Opportunity Pipeline by Month report shows your Opportunities with date and amount information. It can be run by all Opportunities, close date, Campaign date and close date, or Campaign

If you need specific information regarding Activities, Pledges and Legacies or Campaigns, get in touch with the Support Team to discuss whether it’s possible to create a custom report to give you the information you need.

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This article should provide some clarity on how to make the most out of Spektrix when raising money or managing gifts from trusts and foundations. If you have further questions about best practice for fundraisers or more technical queries, please get in touch with the Spektrix Support Team - we’re always interested to hear how you’re utilising the fundraising tools in Spektrix.

If you have any comments or suggestions about this article and anything you think it could do better, please fill in this form and let us know - all feedback is useful!

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