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Grantmaking & Giving Platforms: How Do I Find a System with Staying Power?

Nick Bessire, Grants and Systems Coordinator

Wendy Rodriguez, Senior Lead, Grants and Systems Management, Integrated Initiatives

With ever-rising expectations and the public’s demand for positive social impact, funders want their grantmaking programs to meet these higher standards. Do any of the following questions sound familiar?


  • What can we do to improve our organization’s relations with applicants and grantees?
  • How can we improve our communications with priority stakeholders?
  • How do we best organize staff and operations in conjunction with a system to best use employee skills?
  • How can we collect and track data to enable us to better report our impact?
  • How can we store confidential data and information securely?


These needs all (eventually) funnel to a single, pressing question: How do I find a system with staying power?

Finding the right system to meet your needs and budget can be a daunting task—especially with so many to choose from. That’s why it’s important to define a clear process to understand your options before investing the time and money. Your organization wants a system that will be a long-term success.

A 7-Step Decision-Making Process

This process will help you and your organization complete the necessary due diligence that will save time and money in the long-run. This blog focuses on Step 1: Understanding the current landscape and defining your present and long-term future system needs. We will dive into the subsequent steps in future blogs.

Step 1: How Do I Identify My System Needs?

Before thinking about specific systems, you must first identify the various programs and activities within your organization that an ideal system would support. The table below outlines how you can begin to think about the broad types of systems and where your organization might fit. Looking at the second column, ask yourself:

  • Which items apply to your organization’s needs now?
  • Which of these items—if any—might apply to your organization’s needs over the next 3-5 years? 5-7 years?
Service Areas Examples
Grants Management Platforms
  • Awards & Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Sponsorships
  • Blackbaud Grantmaking (formerly GIFTS)
  • Fluxx
  • OpenWater
  • Submittable
Comprehensive Giving Platforms
  • Grants Management Service Areas (see above)
  • Employee Engagement
    • Automatic Payroll Deductions
    • Internal Employee Fundraising
    • Matching Gifts
    • Volunteering
  • In-Kind Giving
    • Product Donations
    • Services
    • Donation of Space
  • Benevity
  • CyberGrants
  • YourCause

With a clear list of your short- and long-term needs, you can easily eliminate certain systems and home in on others. We’ve included a few examples of possible platforms that vary in pricing and features to serve as a starting point for Step 2.

*Preview* Step 2: How Do I Identify the Criteria for Assessing Systems?

After your needs are clearly identified, it’s important to consider how a system will meet said needs. Your criteria for assessing a system with likely fall within two major categories:

  • Features
    • E.g., The ease of use and ability of the system to capture data, report on data, and communicate efficiently with stakeholders
  • Operations and Staffing
    • E.g., The amount of staffing needed to manage the system and the support needed from the company to provide system training and troubleshooting

Our next blog will go into detail about these two categories and how to measure potential systems against your specific needs.

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