Salesforce enables open and flexible grant-making

Hyphen8 welcomed the news last week that IVAR (Institute for Voluntary Action Research) in collaboration with London Funders launched a campaign calling on funders to adopt simpler, more flexible practices.  We are delighted to see that 14 out of the first 50 funders to sign the pledge are Hyphen8 customers using Salesforce to manage their grant-making!

We have been supporting grant-making organisations with Salesforce solutions for over 8 years now and are recognised as specialists in this sector.  In 2020 we launched our Service Design practice made up of consultants that joined us directly from roles in some of the UK’s largest funders.  The Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for change and many funders are improving and speeding up their processes to get money out quickly to related initiatives.  In fact, Hyphen8 fast-tracked the go live for some 20+ Covid-19 related programmes in 2020 (for total funding valued at over £500m).

In this blog, I share how Salesforce can help grant-makers to meet each of IVAR’s 8 pledge commitments.

1. Don’t waste time – funders will be open, transparent and clear about all of their priorities, requirements and exclusions

Being open and transparent is much easier if grants teams can control the information that is shared in real-time.   The latest version of Salesforce Grant Management product includes an allocation of community cloud log ins.  This means that grant applicants can log in to a secure online portal where they can engage immediately:

  • Applicants are guided through eligibility criteria and questions prior to proceeding with the application so that they don’t waste unnecessary time applying
  • Grant Managers can engage in real-time with applicants using Chatter, the in-built collaboration platform to answer queries
  • Grants team members can manage programme content and criteria that is shared with applicants themselves instead of having to rely on web developers

2. Ask relevant questions – funders will test their application forms to ensure clarity, relevance and avoid repetition, only collecting information that genuinely informs a funding decision

Our Service Design team has been very busy recently working on a number of projects to simplify and streamline grant application processes for a number of new and existing customers.  This process involves challenging how the data will be used at each stage and importantly, ensuring that questions are inclusive for all applicants.  Our resident UX expert ensures that the data entry experience is simple, clear and quick.  It is increasingly vital that grant managers can adapt and manage their own form content as this prohibits flexibility so our solutions always consider the ease of changing any programme component.

3. Accept risk – funders will clearly explain how risk is assessed and be realistic about how much assurance applicants can provide

This is a common area for discussion during our service design engagements as applicant organisations may not have the resources or the internal skills to provide documentation that is often requested as mandatory.  When reviewing the due diligence checks with our grant-making customers, we encourage them to consider how they can provide clear guidance (and in some cases support) on what is expected.   Carrying out due diligence checks within Salesforce is simple – the new Action Plans component that is built into the Grant Management product means that activities and documents can be related to the applying organisation.  These can be requested at the most logical stage in the process and checked against future applications.

4. Act with urgency – funders will aim to make decisions as quickly as possible by publishing and sticking to timeframes to ensure they work at a pace that meets the needs of applicants

Using Salesforce dramatically reduces the time it takes to move a grant application through each stage in the process and simplifies timeframe tracking:

  • Dynamic status-specific checklists to carry out due diligence and eligibility checks
  • Standard approval processes to auto-assign and notify approvers based on delegated authority or grant value
  • Native automated workflow capabilities to trigger decision notifications and communications
  • Reporting on time between status changes for accurate tracking of timeframes

5. Be open – funders will provide feedback, including reasons for rejections. They will analyse and share relevant data, including publishing success rates

Providing personalised feedback can be challenging and time-consuming for funders with high volumes of applications.  In Salesforce reasons for rejection can easily be maintained in fields that can pull through into email templates.  Unsuccessful notifications can be triggered automatically based on status change.

The powerful native analytics functionality in Salesforce means that data such as success rates can be displayed in real-time on dashboards.  Data can easily be exported in the format required including 360Giving or pushed to public web pages.

6. Enable flexibility – funders will aim to give unrestricted funding; where they can’t (or are a specialist funder), they will ensure their funding is as flexible as possible

Flexible systems are important to enable flexible funding. The main reason why so many grant-makers are choosing Salesforce is flexibility.  It has never been more important to adapt and funders don’t want to restrict their programme design due to inflexible systems.  Our solutions on Salesforce ensure that the workflow associated with different types of funding can easily be managed and quickly changed.

7. Communicate with purpose – a funders contact is positive and purposeful. They will be realistic about their time commitments

It is important that funders are open about expectations and time commitments and are able to communicate quickly with funded organisations to provide updates or changes to requirements (particularly in relation to outcomes reporting which can evolve over the course of a multi-year funding period).  This is one of the benefits of a Salesforce Community where funders can share updates and notifications instantly with their grantees.  The timing and content of due requirements throughout the course of the grant lifecycle can be adapted in response to changes in circumstance.

8. Be proportionate – funders will ensure that their formal reporting requirements are well understood, proportionate and meaningful

What we have seen over the years is that managing grant reporting can be one of the most time-consuming tasks – or more specifically chasing them.  It is sometimes frustrating to see the amount of information required from grantees that is being collected but is simply not being used. The fantastic thing about using a flexible platform like Salesforce is that you are not restricted to one size fits all when it comes to grant reporting.  Hyphen8 has fine-tuned the design of grant programme management to provide an easy way to specify the reporting requirements associated with each programme or round depending on the value of the grant or the outcome reporting requirements.

  • Data capture form templates can be associated with specific programmes or rounds
  • Data collected can populate visual charts that can be downloaded to feed into external
  • Requests and reminders can be automated driven by auto-calculated due dates

Please visit our website to find out more about our Service Design consultancy.

If you would like to understand more about how Salesforce can help you with open and flexible grant-making, we would love to hear from you at