How to Choose the Right Grant Management Software for Nonprofits

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December 2, 2021

Last Updated:

November 15, 2022

The grant process can be daunting – from searching for funders and completing applications to recording expenditures and managing reporting requirements. That’s why many nonprofits, big and small, use a grant management software system

Grant management software takes the administrative grunt work out of the grants process, allowing nonprofit personnel more time to focus on their mission and the patrons they serve. 

This is why we decided to write this comprehensive article that will help you learn:

  • When investing in grant management software is a smart business decision
  • The criteria you should take into consideration when choosing a grant management software
  • The differences between grant management software solutions for nonprofits available on the market

If you’re looking for a comprehensive grants management software comparison, we’ve got you covered as well.

How to Break Free From Grant Spreadsheets: 5 Simple Steps

Instrumentl is a grant management software that also lets you easily track grants and effectively do grant prospecting. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to see it in action.

What is the Main Benefit of Investing in Grant Management Software?

As part of establishing a diversified revenue stream, most nonprofits have some reliance on grant funding, and if they do not currently, aspire to have at least some grant funding in the future.

The main benefit of investing in grant management software is that it administers the entire grant process—from recording grant applications and their outcomes to setting up the necessary information for grant reporting requirements. Here’s some high-level information you need to know:

  • Most grant management software have features such as grant matching, expenditure recording, and collecting project outcome data.
  • You can either purchase the grant management software or subscribe to a cloud-based service.
  • Many software are easy to implement and they can be used both by organizations and individuals.
  • Some grant management software have integrations that are compatible with a nonprofit’s existing CRM or donor management system.

Now let’s take a closer look at the ways grant management software can help nonprofits.

How Does Grant Management Software Help Nonprofits?

Many small-to-mid-sized nonprofits don’t have dedicated people whose sole job would be to pursue and manage grants. Often this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Executive Director or CEO, or on a Program Manager. Even if a nonprofit has a Development Director, this person is often in charge of all revenue campaigns, not just grant management.

Because the grant funding process involves many steps, it is helpful to have a software system to manage it all. By cutting the administrative hours necessary to pursue and acquire a grant, you get more time to cultivate relationships with funders which is so crucial to nonprofit work.

Having an integrated grants management system allows an organization to easily retrieve data, assess past applications and plan for future applications, and retrieve reports. It helps your nonprofit collect accurate data on expenses and project impact, instilling confidence in grantmakers that your organization will be successful stewards of future grant awards.

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Does Your Nonprofit Need Grant Management Software?

Here are the two most common scenarios that nonprofits find themselves in before realizing they need to invest in grant management software. Read them through and then try to think whether the challenges and pain points sound familiar.

Nonprofit #1

Nonprofit #1 is a mature, mid-sized nonprofit that is well-recognized in the community and has been in existence for twelve years.

For the first decade, the organization had received much of its funding from a municipal contract, individual donors, and a yearly community breakfast event. However, when COVID restricted in-person events, and municipal budgets were redirected to essential services, the organization turned its focus on acquiring grant funding. 

The Development Director was savvy with event planning and donor campaigns but had little experience with grants. Therefore, they had trouble finding matches, completing applications, and gathering the requested information.

The Value Nonprofit #1 Found in Grant Management Software Solution

Here’s what the grant management software did for Nonprofit #1:

  • Identified potential grant opportunities and clearly stated their deadlines
  • Integrated seamlessly with the nonprofit’s existing CRM system
  • Tracked accurate reports on how much revenue they were generating from all sources 

The organization planned to focus on grant applications to make up for lost event revenue.

The grant management software enabled them to gather necessary information on their organization, such as financials, annual reports, and impact data, which they recorded in the system, and then used for all applications going forward.

Nonprofit #2

Nonprofit #2 is a young but fast-growing nonprofit that recently acquired two substantial general operating grants awards to expand its organization’s capacity. They also have several small grants that were used to start their organization which still have reporting requirements. 

Last year, Nonprofit #2 also received a three-year project-based grant whose funds are restricted to a specific initiative. 

The new Executive Director is responsible for the grants process and recently nearly missed a mid-year reporting deadline on a grant that was awarded before they took the position.

The Value Nonprofit #2 Found in Grant Management Software Solution

The Nonprofit #2 invested in grant management software which allowed them to:

  • Input all their past and current grant information, award amounts, and reporting requirements
  • Sets up reminders for reporting and keep track of expenses for both general operating grants and those which are project specific
  • See the progress on grants and projects so far, accurately report to the Board, and plan for future initiatives

Did you know? Instrumentl has been announced as the Fall leader in G2 Reviews. See how we help nonprofits find, manage, and track all things grants.

What Should You Consider When Looking for Grant Management Software?

Many nonprofits, particularly those with limited budgets, hesitate when faced with another subscription or cost, especially when they may be managing just a few grants or when they have been administering grants the “old-fashioned way”.

If you’ve been squinting your eyes at Excel spreadsheets, you know what we mean.

Below you can find the table with the main criteria you should look for when evaluating different grant management software.

Criteria Why it matters
Cost As a nonprofit, you need to ensure your grant management software fits into your budget. Getting buy-in from the Board members and key decision-makers is not always easy, so make sure to do a cost analysis and estimate return on investment before subscribing to grant management software.
Features What does this grant management software allow you to do? How does it compare to other solutions on the market? To what plan would you need to subscribe in order to get all the features you want?

Does this grant management software for nonprofits have integrations available? For example, does it integrate with Salesforce or some other tool that’s an essential part of your tech stack?

User-friendliness Do you need extensive documentation do understand how to use the grant management software? Is it intuitive? Does it come with educational materials about the product?
Customer support

How good is their customer support? Does their customer success team go the extra mile to help you maximize the use of the grant management software for your nonprofit? How responsive are they?

User reviews

User reviews can help you understand the pros and cons of using a certain grant management software. The main sources include G2, Capterra, and selected testimonials on vendors’ websites. For example, you can browse through various Instrumentl’s reviews to evaluate how useful this grant management software may be to your nonprofit.

How Much Does Grant Management Software Cost?

Grant management software prices vary widely and are dependent on multiple factors including the size of the organization and the available features. Small to mid-sized nonprofits can expect to pay about $2,500 - $4,000 per year or about $200 - $350 per month

Grant management software is helpful to all, and except for very small, very new, or financially destitute organizations, the benefits of grant management software generally outweigh the costs.

As a matter of fact, $200 per month can easily be absorbed on the merits of increased efficiency, less administrative time, and more opportunities for acquiring grant funding.

Did you know? Instrumentl is a grant management software that has a proven return on investment. Every year, we measure the impact of our software by directly surveying our customers. Instrumentl users raise $200K more in new grants on average within just one year.

What Features Should You Look for When Looking at Different Grant Management Software for Nonprofits?

To be worthwhile, even the most basic of software systems should include a few essentials:

  • A grant matching system or database
  • Templates for applications and reports 
  • Application progress tracking 
  • Email reminders for deadlines
  • Options for multiple users and collaborators
  • Document storage (990s and other financial documents)

Additional features include tools to forecast expenditures or report on project progress.

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What Type of Integrations Should You Look for In a Grant Management Software?

Many nonprofits already use programs to pay bills and track staff hours (such as QuickBooks) or communicate with patrons through a CRM platform (such as Salesforce). 

When choosing grants management software for your nonprofit, look for a platform that integrates with your current tools. This will help avoid time-consuming backtracking and re-uploading of information to the new grants management platform.

When Should Your Nonprofit Get Grant Management Software?

Grant management software is beneficial for most 501c3 nonprofits with a stable budget, regardless of size, and an annual operating income of 90k or more.

Even if organizations do not yet have a lot of grants to manage, they will benefit from simply having the tools at their disposal to discover more opportunities. It’s easier to find a match and then complete the application.

New organizations that have the budget will immediately see the benefits of implementing grant management software. It helps them avoid backtracking and retrace steps as they grow in financial, personnel, and program capacity.

Which Grant Management Software Should Your Organization Choose?

Our goal is to help you make the right choice for your nonprofit—not to convince you that our grant management software is the best (although we’re pretty proud of it). This is why we are continuously working on the content series called Grant Software Buying Guides that will help you compare different Instrumentl alternatives to one another, and understand the value they could bring to you.

In the meantime, you can check 8 things that only Instrumentl can do and go through these useful resources that compare grant management software for nonprofits:

Our advice would be to go through what each of the grant management solutions has to offer, take into account the potential return on investment, and really focus on those six criteria—cost, features, integrations, user friendliness, customer support, and user reviews. 

Another framework you can use to pick the best grant management software for your nonprofit is to breakdown the features by using three different lists:

  • Must-have features: Features you cannot live without, they have to be included in the product you’re considering.
  • Conditional features: Features that are not critical, but do provide business value such as increased productivity or help your team work better.
  • Nice-to-have features: Features that are neither must-have nor conditional, but they could be useful if included in the product.

Is Instrumentl the Right Grant Management Software for Your Nonprofit?

Instrumentl is a great grant management software that brings grant discovery, research, and tracking to one place. We call it the institutional fundraising platform.

We offer Basic, Plus, and custom plans to suit all needs and organizational budgets with prices starting at $149/ month when paid annually. You can also check Instrumentl pricing in more detail.

By the way, do you know about Instrumentl’s Guarantee program?

We’re sure of the quality and value of our product. With an NPS score over 70, our customers vouch for our grant management software as well.

So, how do you evaluate if Instumentl is the right grant management software for you? Here’s a useful checklist below:

✓ My nonprofit organization has an annual operating budget of 90K or above

✓ At the moment, I am wasting too much time on finding good founder matches

✓ I want to spend more time writing grants and less time searching for them

✓ I want the ability to collaborate with my team within a single platform, assign tasks, and clearly divide ownership

✓ I want a clear bird’s-eye view of all the past grants, current grants, and grants we plan to apply for

✓ I want the ability to store all my grant-related documents and reports in a single library

✓ I want to get reminded about deadlines and have greater control over my application cycle

What Does Instrumentl Have to Offer as Grant Management Software?

Instrumentl’s plans offer comprehensive grant management tools to assist throughout the grant process. You can see the features included in all plans in the table below:

Feature How it helps your nonprofit
Smart Grant Matching Tell us about your organization or program area and see active funding opportunities that match. Each week, you'll get an email with new matching opportunities. Now, the opportunities come to you!
Foundation Profiles Access rich foundation profiles with links to Form 990s and specific grant programs and deadlines. No more sifting through endless 990s: you get visually pleasing snapshots.
Grant Tracker

Add opportunities from Instrumentl’s large database as well as opportunities found elsewhere. Organize your submission requests by year, application stage, and project. Update the status on submissions as you make progress and hear funder responses.

Automatic Deadline Reminders Instrumentl's intelligent deadline system magically stays up-to-date. Automatically get weekly emails with all your upcoming deadlines. Receive email notifications when funders update the priority or deadline of any opportunity you have saved.

Create tasks for your custom milestones, such as reporting deadlines or draft due dates, to keep you (and your team) on track.

Document Library

Keep all your grant documents stored, organized, and easily accessible in one place so your team has a single source of truth.

CSV and PDF Reports

Export your saved grants pipeline into an easy-to-read PDF or CSV, and impress your board members and colleagues. No more wasting a ton of time on crunching numbers and gathering data.

Additional information such as Personalized Support & Training, Foundation Discovery, Advanced Funder Insights, and Recipient Profiles are part of more advanced plans. 

Taking the Next Step: Giving Instrumentl a Try

Most nonprofits are built on a passion for helping causes and communities but are not necessarily best suited for the administrative work required to do so.

With the help of a grant management software system, nonprofits can spend more time devoted to their mission and patrons, and less time on behind-the-scenes desk work. 

With strategic matching, deadline reminders, application tracking, and task lists, your nonprofit can stay organized and efficient throughout the grant process. 

We invite you to start a 14-day free trial today and see Instrumentl in action.

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl team

Instrumentl is the all-in-one grant management tool for nonprofits and consultants who want to find and win more grants without the stress of juggling grant work through disparate tools and sticky notes.

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