GRANTMAKING: Top Grantmaking Foundation and Software Solutions

Grantmaker

It’s a week before the deadline for your nonprofit’s grant application, and you’re not sure what information one item actually requires. Do you feel at ease contacting your grantmaker for clarification?
You can build a useful relationship with your grantmaker if you have the necessary tools and software to portray the best version of yourself and your nonprofit’s mission. And asking questions will be simple and natural!
Asking questions about application materials, timelines, and grant scope can not only make your nonprofit’s application more competitive but will also demonstrate to your grantmaker that you want to ensure that this relationship is a good fit. Let’s learn about grantmaking and see the top 5 grantmaking foundation and software in this post.

What is a Grantmaker?

A grantmaker is a non-profit organization that funds philanthropic initiatives for the greater good. So, grantmakers are frequently established with endowment funds donated by individuals, families, or companies. They usually offer grants or run programs with the money they make from investing endowments.
MCF frequently refers to our member foundations as “grantmakers.” The word refers to a broader category that includes corporate giving programs that also make grants but are not officially “grantmakers.”

What Are the Various Types of Grantmaker?

Grantmaking foundations are classified into three types:

#1. Independent Grantmaker

The most prevalent sort of private grantmaker is the independent grantmaker. They are usually started by an individual, a family, or a group of people. They may also be run by the donor or members of the donor’s family, in which case they are referred to as “family foundations” or “family grantmakers.”

Because family grantmakers have distinct needs, MCF frequently distinguishes between Private Independent and Private Family Grantmakers.

#2. Corporation Grantmaker

Companies establish and fund corporate grantmakers as independent legal entities that are run by a board of directors that is typically made up of company officials. Corporations can fund private foundations through endowments, make periodic contributions from revenues, or combine the two techniques to fund foundations.

Some businesses run in-house corporate giving programs, which, unlike corporate foundations, are completely in the company’s control and are not required by law to follow the same IRS restrictions. Many businesses have both a foundation and a corporate giving program.

#3. Community/Public Grantmakers

Community and other public foundations are foundations that are funded by the government and run by and for the benefit of a specific community or geographic region. They are funded by a range of individual donors and serve as a vehicle for donors to establish endowed funds without paying the expenditures associated with establishing a foundation. A governing board or distribution committee representing community interests governs community/public foundations.

An operating foundation is a type of foundation that does not often give grants. The majority of the monies raised by an operational foundation are used to support its own charity projects.

What Are the Grantmakers’ Grantmaking Regulations?

Some grantmakers have a lot of leeways when it comes to deciding which charitable causes to support with their money. Others are severely constrained, often legally, by the founding donor’s mandate. Some grantmakers must limit their grantmaking to specific causes, while others must limit their grantmaking to a specific geographic area.

How is Grantmaking governed?

Grantmakers are subject to tougher controls than public charities, which often seek funds from the general public to run institutions or programs. Although both grantmakers and public charities use the term “foundation” in their titles, the regulations that apply to each are substantially different. According to the IRS, independent and corporate foundations must:

  • Pay out at least 5% of the value of their investment assets on an annual basis.
  • They must pay a 1% or 2% excise tax on their earnings.
  • With a few exceptions, only give money to other 501(c)(3) organizations.

The IRS considers nearly all community/public grantmakers to be public charities. As a result, they are exempt from the same legal requirements as independent and corporate foundations.

Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS)

The Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) is a global network of over 100 philanthropy associations and support organizations whose mission is to improve, promote, and lead the development of philanthropy and social investment. WINGS members and network participants collectively represent over 100,000 philanthropic organizations from all areas, mobilizing billions of funds.

In 1998, the International Meeting of Associations Serving Grantmakers (IMAG) in Oaxaca, Mexico, brought together philanthropy professionals from 25 nations to participate in skill-building programming. The meeting resulted in conversations about forming a single network to serve as an advocate, information broker, convener, and advisor to grantmaker associations and support groups, eventually leading to the founding of WINGS.

Vision & Mission

WINGS is a worldwide network of grantmaker organizations and philanthropic support groups. WINGS supports, strengthens, and leads the development of philanthropy and social investment around the world. So, WINGS gives voice to the diverse cultures of giving and provides information, knowledge, and peer exchange to its members and other participants. Their mission is of a powerful global philanthropic community that works to create more egalitarian and just communities around the world.

Values

Their efforts are guided by seven core ideals and principles:

  • Interdependence and peer support
  • a global viewpoint
  • Collaboration
  • Respect for diversity and inclusivity
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Integrity
  • Innovation

WINGS’ core members are grantmaker networks and associations, as well as prominent philanthropy support and resource organizations. Members are collaborating with WINGS to create a broader, more inclusive philanthropic movement that connects traditional foundations with community foundations, development grantmakers, business, and corporate social investors, venture philanthropists, philanthropy advisers and professionals, and private philanthropists.

10 Tips for a Better Grantmaking

Here are the most effective methods for streamlining grant practices.

  1. Intentional, non-redundant application requirements: Do your grantees a favor by refining the ambiguous, removing the redundant, and removing the bizarre.
  2. Questions that can be downloaded and attached to the online grantmaking system: Anyone who has done an online application knows how daunting it is to dive into the unknown without a plan.
  3. An anonymous survey to solicit feedback: There is just one good approach to gather honest feedback from your grantees on how your grantmaking process works.
  4. Each year, one report is issued: Reduce your formal written reporting requirements to once a year, and replace them with a more manageable and/or flexible set of needs.
  5. Consider giving the gift of a mid-point phone conversation that you document to substitute a report.
  6. A pliable budget form (or none at all): Allow your grantees to avoid the misery of fitting their budget into your template by accepting financial information in their preferred format.
  7. A final report that also serves as a renewal request: Your grantees will appreciate the convenience of providing a single item that performs two functions.
  8. Quick turnaround: If you’re unsure how long your process will take, now is the time to track it. Then cut it down.
  9. Information that is crystal clear: Check that your application instructions can be understood by someone who does not work for your foundation.
  10. True cost-coverage funds: Ideally, with all-around operational support.

How can I Establish a Grantmaking Foundation?

A foundation, in broad terms, is a non-profit business or charitable trust that gives contributions to organizations, institutions, or individuals for benevolent objectives such as science, education, culture, and religion. Please keep in mind that the phrase “foundation” is not a legal term. If an organization has the term “grants” in its name, don’t assume it makes them.

Types of Grantmaking Foundations.

Private foundations and grantmaking public charities are the two types of grantmaking foundations.

The funds for a private foundation are donated by a family, a person, or a corporation. The Ford Foundation is an example of a private foundation. Private foundations must meet an annual “payout requirement,” which means they must give away at least 5% of their assets’ market value. As a result, when you search for possible donors in our databases, Foundation Maps, and Foundation Directory, the private foundations you see are all active grantmakers. Because you can search up which foundations are giving to specific issues or locations, using these tools can help you uncover possible foundation peers who may serve as informal advisors.

A grantmaking public charity (sometimes known as a “public foundation”) receives funding from a variety of sources, including foundations, individuals, and government bodies. The Save the Children Federation is an example of a grantmaking public charity. The majority of community foundations are also public charities that make grants. Candid’s Foundation Maps and Foundation Directory databases also cover grantmaking public nonprofits.

If you aim to gather funds from the general public rather than beginning with your own endowment from which to make gifts, you will almost probably be founding a public charity rather than a private foundation.

Starting Grantmaking Foundations: Resources

The majority of people who use Candid tools are grantseekers linked with public charities, but we occasionally get approached by persons who want to start their own grantmaking foundation. You might want to contact the Council on Foundations, a national nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporate benefactors, for further information on this topic.

There may be a regional grantmaker organization on your part that can provide information on establishing a foundation. You can hunt for a more local resource on the website of the United Philanthropy Forum.

Organizations such as Exponent Philanthropy and the National Center for Family Philanthropy may also provide grantmaking foundation information and services.

Alternatives to Establishing a Grantmaking Foundation

You might also wish to look into alternatives to establishing your own grantmaker foundation. Many community foundations, for example, assist individuals in establishing donor-advised funds to support philanthropic organizations. A donor-advised fund allows the individual to propose which charity groups should receive gifts or grants from the fund, while the community foundation manages the fund. More information can be found in Kiplinger’s article, “Do Good with a Donor-Advised Fund.” You can use the Community Foundation Locator on the Council on Foundations’ website to find a community foundation near you.

Consult a financial advisor or an attorney to learn about additional options for establishing a fund to distribute charity gifts or awards.

Top 5 Grantmaking Foundation

According to Donating USA’s annual report, foundations in the United States raised their giving by 2.5 percent in 2019, a proportion that has increased in nine of the previous ten years at the time of the report. Many of these foundations use discretionary grantmaking to distribute given monies.

West Virginia has a number of grantmaking foundations, including independent, family, business, and community foundations. By giving grants for programs such as health care, education, economic development, and community beautification, these organizations play a vital role in enhancing the lives of West Virginians.

West Virginia Executive opted to profile the state’s top 5 grantmaking foundations determined by their annual grantmaking in the Mountain State in order to highlight some of the outstanding work these organizations are doing. These pillars are transforming the way West Virginians live, study, heal and grow.

#1. The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation

It was founded in 1944.

Total grantmaking in 2019: $10,338,628

In 1944, Michael and Sarah Benedum founded the Claude Worthington Benedum Grantmaking Foundation as a private family foundation. It was named after their only son, Claude Worthington, who died tragically during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. Michael, who made his fortune in oil and gas exploration, was one of the 100 wealthiest men of his generation and was inspired to give back to the people and places of his chosen state and city, Pittsburgh, PA.

“The Benedum grantmaking Foundation has touched all 55 counties in West Virginia with a diverse variety of gifts totaling more than $500 million dollars,” says President Jen Giovannitti. “As a result, the Benedum Foundation is one of the state’s largest and most consistent private charitable investors.”

Trustees of the organization include included West Virginia Governors Hulett Smith and Gaston Caperton, Senator Jennings Randolph, and Judge Robert Maxwell.

Benedum has worked closely with West Virginia’s colleges, advanced state legislative initiatives, funded public assets such as the Clay Center, and encouraged the establishment of community organizations and intermediaries. It collaborates closely with other foundations, including The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF), a grantee, partner, and peer. Benedum has given TGKVF about $1.5 million to date to help develop critical projects and initiatives in Mountain State.

Thousands of projects in health and human services, community and economic development, education, and the arts have benefited from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation nearly 80 years of grantmaking.

Giovannitti foresees only continual expansion and innovation for the foundation in the future.

#2. The Greater Kanawha Valley Grantmaking Foundation

It was founded in 1962.
Total grantmaking in 2019: $9,956,933

The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF), founded by Robert Spilman, Ned Chilton, and Stanley Loewenstein, began operations with the creation of a single fund: the Frank A. Knight Memorial Fund. In its six-county core region of Boone, Clay, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, and Putnam, it has since enabled a plethora of community achievements in areas like as arts and culture, health and human services, economic development, education, and recreation. TGKVF is now one of the top 100 largest community foundations in the United States, as well as the largest in Central Appalachia.

Foster is also pleased with the foundation’s participation in the West Virginia Health Right dental project, which aims to reduce cost and transportation obstacles to dental treatment through an on-site dental clinic in Charleston and a mobile dental unit in Boone and Clay counties.

While the foundation gives out hundreds of scholarships each year, it is more than just a financing source. It also provides opportunities for professional and organizational development.

Read Also: SAFER GRANT: 2022 Eligibility, Awards, Requirements & How-to Guide

“In 2020, we took advantage of the virtual learning opportunity Zoom provided during the COVID-19 epidemic,” Foster explains. “We presented two criminal justice grant information workshops, two program evaluation sessions, a session on NGOs surviving the recession, and a session on grant application strategies for understaffed organizations.” Each event drew an average of 30 nonprofit leaders and included time for peer-to-peer development.”

In addition, TGKVF gave moreover $12.6 million in grants across all grantmaking programs in 2020 and granted $830,155 in 370 statewide scholarships. The foundation’s purpose as it approaches its 60th anniversary is to continue making smart and proactive investments that build the various forms of wealth required for its communities to prosper.

#3. West Virginia Encova Grantmaking Foundation

Established in 2012

Total grantmaking in 2019: $3,249,733.

The Encova Foundation of West Virginia, which began as the BrickStreet Foundation in 2012, is the philanthropy arm of Encova Insurance.

“At the time, our board, particularly Tom Flaherty and Marty Becker, had the vision that we should establish a foundation with a focus on giving back to the communities where we live and work,” says Greg Burton, executive chairman of Encova Insurance.

The foundation prioritizes education, health care, and child welfare. It has contributed more than $8 million since 2015 to fund a range of endowed scholarships at many of West Virginia’s two- and four-year schools and universities.

“It’s amazing how many students are unable to return to school for the next semester because they owe $1,000 or $2,500,” Burton adds. “We wanted to focus on assisting as many of those kids as possible to ensure that $1,000 or $2,500 did not prevent them from continuing their education.” These scholarships will be available in perpetuity because they are endowed at the institutions, something we are very pleased with. I can’t think of anything more vital than assisting someone in paying for their education so that they don’t graduate with a significant amount of debt.”

While the foundation’s traditional concentration has been on educational initiatives, it, like many other foundations, shifted its focus to basic needs during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

#4. West Virginia United Methodist Grantmaking Foundation

It was founded in 1974.

In 2019, total grantmaking was $2,344,211.

In 1974, the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church established the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia, Inc. as a separate and independent legal corporation. The foundation, then known as United Methodist Charities, was a permanent charitable organization that could solicit and handle grants. It has always placed a strong emphasis on United Methodist congregations and concerns.

The United Methodist Foundation, renamed in 1992, has always had the purpose of creating a culture of philanthropy that transforms the world.

The foundation has supported several notable missions, including the Upper Big Branch mining catastrophe response in 2010.

“Following the Montcoal mine catastrophe, we became the administrator of funds raised by the West Virginia Council of Churches to assist the families of the miners who were killed or gravely injured,” Taylor explains. “Thousands of donations were received from people all throughout the country who felt compelled to respond in some manner, ranging in value from cents to tens of thousands of dollars.” We distributed approximately $1 million to those 29 families on the six-month anniversary. It could never compensate for their tragic personal losses, but at least they knew they weren’t alone. They were being remembered, prayed for, and cared for. It was amazing to play a small part in being present with people in their pain.”

The foundation did not have the luxury of undesignated cash until recently. Taylor’s goal is to be a good steward as unfettered donations continue to climb.

“I see the foundation stepping up to sponsor more initiatives and programs,” he says. “I also like to see the foundation work more collaboratively with other funders to address social problems.” We’ve realized that collaborating with others allows us to do so much more.”

#5. Parkersburg Area Community Grantmaking Foundation & Regional Affiliates

It was founded in 1963.

Total 2019 grantmaking: $2,298,314

In 1963, five Parkersburg, West Virginia, residents gathered to debate insufficient support for their community’s charity organizations. They established the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF) with Edwin Dils, a local business owner, as the first governing board chair, determined to construct a brighter future.

“While much has changed in nearly 60 years, much work has to be done,” says Executive Director Judy Sjostedt Ritchie. “From $2,000 per year in 1963 to more than $2.75 million in the Fiscal Year 2020, PACF’s yearly donations to the community have expanded from $2,000 per year to more than $2.75 million in the Fiscal Year 2020.” The fact that PACF does so much good now is owed in great part to the excellent people who came before, stepped up, and did their part for the causes they cared about.”

PACF’s primary mission is to create long-term charity resources, but it also provides leadership initiatives for the benefit of its service region as a whole.

Another important project, Give Local MOV, was started in 2014 and lets locals make online donations to their favorite NGOs. It has raised moreover $2 million since its start, with community enthusiasm growing year after year.

“Give Local MOV has come to represent a means for PACF, our region’s NGOs, and all of our contributors to collaborate to expand the resources available for the common good,” Ritchie adds. “On May 4, 2021, $505,000 was raised in under 24 hours to support the 59 participating causes.”

PACF’s total grantmaking in 2020 was $2,753,236.

Grantmaker Software for Funders

Non-profit organizations mostly utilize grantmaker software to aid grantmakers and grantseekers in managing grant requests. They help users with grant discovery, drafting, and final proposal submission. Grantmaker software can also assist users in applying for, collecting, and researching various grants. Although these programs are generally utilized by non-profits, they are also valuable for government agencies, scientific research groups, and research universities.

The success of non-profit organizations is heavily reliant on public funding (i.e. grants). For organizations that rely on grant money, having a platform that allows them to centralize all of their grant bids and aid them throughout the process is quite beneficial.

Grantmaker software, in addition to handling current grant submissions, assists in locating available grant opportunities that meet the organization’s criteria. Some functionalities of grantmaker software may overlap with those of non-profit fundraising software.

Grantmaker software packages also provide all of the tools required to assist with grant preparation and submission. Communication between grant-seekers and grantmakers, as well as document attachment portals, are examples of this. Grantmaker software is frequently required to maintain track of and expand a grant portfolio for any organization that relies on grants to conduct its operations efficiently.

Features of Grantmaker Software

The following features are commonly found in grantmaker software applications:

  • Compliance Management.
  • Contract administration
  • Document administration
  • Accounting and financial reporting
  • Management of grant applications
  • Tracking of grant awards
  • Make a discovery grant
  • Proposal Creation
  • Reminders for tasks

Comparison of Grantmaker Software

Consider the following critical aspects before selecting a grantmaker or nonprofit fundraising software:

  • Organization size: Before making a purchase of a garntmaker software, consider the size of your organization. Whether you are a small, medium, or large non-profit or other types of institution may influence which vendor is most suited to your organization’s needs. Smaller non-profits, for example, may apply for fewer grants each year than huge research institutions or colleges.
  • Ease of Use: End-users benefit from software applications that are simple to use and comprehend. Certain products may be easier and faster for users to use than others, saving time during the grant application process. This efficiency should be considered before selecting a vendor.
  • Pricing Specifics: The cost of grant administration software varies depending on the product. Prices are often based on the number of grants and constituents you intend to hold within your application. They can be purchased alone or as part of a fundraising software bundle.

Though most grantmaker software manufacturers do not publish their actual rates, you should anticipate paying between $55 and $500 every month. Some applications accept yearly payments rather than monthly fees. Certain suppliers also provide a free trial version of their software.

Top Grantmaker Software

#1. Salesforce for Nonprofits

Salesforce for Nonprofits, often known as the Salesforce.org Nonprofit Cloud, is a nonprofit constituent relationship management platform that facilitates constituent interaction, fundraising, and grants.

#2. Blackbaud Grantmaker

Blackbaud Grantmaking (formerly GIFTS Online) is a component of Blackbaud’s wide range of innovative software, services, data intelligence, and expertise that drives social good.

#3. CSRconnect

CSRconnect is a SaaS-based platform that is completely hosted and managed to engage employees in volunteering, donating, and sustainability efforts, as well as to assist grants administrators in managing corporate and foundation philanthropic programs.

#4. Grant Lifecycle Manager

Users can use Foundant GLM to design, launch, and receive online applications and grant reports, manage online proposal evaluations, and administer grants and information from a single, integrated solution from any location with an internet connection.

#5. WizeHive Zengine

Wizehive provides Zengine, a cloud-based submission management platform for grants, awards, scholarships, and other types of award and application submissions. Zengine may be used to track customers, job candidates, projects, and more, and it can be used to replace paper processes, outgrown spreadsheets, and generic software.

#6. Submittable

Submittable, based in Missoula, Montana, provides a submissions management system for developing application workflows and forms, as well as enabling grant requests, corporate donations, and other types of application forms with a custom review process, workflow automation, and other capabilities.

#7. Fluxx Grantmaker.

Fluxx Grantmaker is software that is hosted in the cloud. It serves small, medium, and big charitable organizations, government agencies, and corporations. Grant and application management, budget and finance management, relationship management, donor monitoring, data and workflow management, and reporting are the primary functions.

Fluxx Grantmaker software has grant, user, and relationship management capabilities. It gives customers the ability to automate forms and workflows, track audit trails, and regulate session timeouts. Fluxx Grantmaker also has project management, contact management, contract and scholarship management, and award management capabilities.

Integrations are available for Foundation Center, GuideStar, DocuSign, Salesforce, NetSuite, Intacct, QuickBooks, Lexis/Nexis Bridger, MailChimp, Google, Microsoft Office, and more programs. Fluxx has mobile apps available for both Android and iOS devices.

#8. FIMS by Blackbaud (formerly MicroEdge)

Blackbaud welcomes users to adopt Blackbaud FIMS, a single, configurable foundation management software solution, to manage and optimize their funding and giving processes. It is built on the previous MicroEdge FIMS solution.

#9. SurveyMonkey Apply

SurveyMonkey Apply (previously FluidReview) is meant to handle grant and scholarship applications, with an emphasis on application organization and tools to facilitate their rigorous assessment, as well as a customizable workflow to ease applicants’ labor and a customizable dashboard.

#10. SmartSimple GMS360

SmartSimple in Toronto provides GMS360, their flagship grants lifecycle management technology, which includes comprehensive pre-screening tools and configurable application forms, templated document creation, meeting management with guests or invitees,s and agenda management, and other tools to help.

Grantmaker FAQ’s

How do you find a Grantmaker?

If your group plans to apply for government assistance, it should create an account on Grants.gov. This site can be used to search for grant programs, and it also serves as the portal via which many grant applications must be filed.

What is a grant making institution?

A grantmaking public charity (sometimes known as a “public foundation”) receives funding from a variety of sources, including foundations, individuals, and government bodies. The Save the Children Federation is an example of a grantmaking public charity. The majority of community foundations are also public charities that make grants.

Where does grant money come from?

Unlike loans, most types of grants are sources of free money that do not have to be repaid. Grants may be awarded by the federal government, your state government, your college or career school, or a private or nonprofit organization.

How does grant money work?

A grant, in its broadest form, is money granted to a person, business, government, or other organization for a specific purpose that does not have to be repaid. This is in contrast to a contribution, which is money provided for broad use with no restrictions on how it must be used.

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