Focusing on People and the Pursuit of Audacity

By | Automation, Future of work, Strategy, Talent | No Comments

Coming from the financial services space, I know well the sense of excitement and fear that technology brings – online banking, for example, has introduced a whole level of convenience, but has set consumer expectations high and put some roles at risk (Some tech stars like Elon Musk suggest that a Universal Basic Income is inevitable – if no one works, how will we get paid? ).

Similarly, in the over 120 projects we’ve completed with grantmakers, we sense a similar emotional potion when we talk about a digital future. On one side we hear, “This will save me so much time!” “I love the automated data flow.”, but inevitably fears also arise: “What will happen to my job?” “What am I going to do now?”

Grants officers share both positive and negative reactions to automation.

Automation can be a great help… but is it also a threat to the jobs of grants managers?

We of course empathize with many of these concerns – these feelings are a human reality –  but to focus forward, we’ve been trying to re-frame them: “What can my job be next?” “How can Philanthropy focus more on people?” “What need can I fill now?”

This is because in every organization we have worked with, there has been no shortage of work to be done. We see to-do lists get longer, with new and great ideas being brought-up every staff meeting that are quickly dropped into the “someday” pile – the truly audacious tasks.

Philanthropy has always been about changing the world for the better and technology can help organizations barrel through the “right now” pile, opening the door for them to start pursuing the “someday”pile. Technology affords audacity.


Audacity Requires Human-to-Human Skills

Back in 2011, the Stanford Social Innovation Review released a series of articles and arguments championing Collective Impact. They argue that large problems need large solutions, but at the same time, they must be nimble and adaptive – scale cannot choke the solution from shifting over time. Collective Impact first and foremost requires people, their ability to manage networks and relationships and adapt to changes as they collectively learn.

More recently, HBR covered similar thinking in their article, Audacious Philanthropy. They find that large-scale social change (many championed by philanthropy) often requires the following:

  • Build a shared understanding of the problem and its ecosystem
  • Set “winnable milestones” and hone a compelling message
  • Design approaches that will work at massive scale
  • Drive (rather than assume) demand
  • Embrace course corrections

Initiatives like these require human-to-human skills: negotiation, persuasion, coordination, creative thinking and adaptation – and we’ve heard Grants Managers speak about these concepts in different ways: “I wish I had more time to connect with Grantees,” “I wish I could collaborate more with my peers,” “I wish I knew what others were up to.”

Grants managers express their desire to build relationships.

Solving large problems requires great human-to-human relationship-building – exactly the kind of work that grants managers excel at.


Audacity Through Human-Centered Systems

The integration of technology and well-connected digital ecosystems can open the door for this work to happen. Saving time by automating administrative tasks is an obvious start. An important next step for impactful collaboration is the seamless sharing of information and data, pooling the investments in people and projects each grantmaker is making to accelerate learning.

This is why GrantBook continues to champion the push towards more connected products and for grantmakers to demand better integration. Initiatives like Fluxx’s GrantSeeker and Foundant’s GrantHub are examples of strong steps forward, but in our Data Strategy work we see opportunities  for much more.

Census data, tax information, academic surveys, polling information, market trends, etc. are all key sources of insight. But raw data alone is not useful. Information must be contextualized and analyzed by humans to become strategic tools – for better relationship-building, faster decision-making, and more strategic grantmaking.

Data on laptop - photo by Carlos Muza

Datafication is another big step in helping grantmakers collaborate to make faster, smarter decisions.

Your Audacious Future Starts with Audacious Questions

A wealth of options and information can be paralyzing, introducing fear of choice and uncertainty. However, what we find unwavering and constant in Grants Managers despite all this, is their desire to do good and seek social change.

So let’s start with what we know: take a look at that “someday” list and start thinking about what it’ll take to tackle these big issues. What training would you need? What does technology need to do? What other skills and people would you want to help out? What information would make decisions easier?

Answer those questions that will help you make your “someday” list a reality. From there, we can start to envision future of work for Grants Managers. 

At the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) Annual Conference this year, GrantBook is eager to continue this conversation  on technology, integrations and the future of work. So if you’d like to reflect on these questions, meet us at TAG 2017 and let’s continue learning together.

TAG2017 banner

Join us at the TAG (Technology Affinity Group) 2017 Annual Conference to talk more about how technology can evolve the future of philanthropy!

Getting practical: automation in philanthropy

By | Future of work, Talent | No Comments

As part of our Theory of Change, GrantBook is dedicated to working with like-minded organizations with whom together, we can help improve the flow of funds and opportunities in philanthropy. With the recent launch of their new product, SurveyMonkey Apply, SurveyMonkey invited us to co-host a webinar on integrating best-in-class tools to complete work. Connecting multiple tools work together seamlessly allows folks to use the tools they like or want and prevents product developers from over-building to try to meet all needs, but potentially under-serving across the board – jack of all trades, master of none.

This is an example of how to get practical with our musings on automation and the future of work in philanthropy. We based these examples on very common activities in grant-making: needing to share lists of applicants and successful Grantees, e-mailing Grantees and organizing meetings with multiple parties involved (e.g. contractors, content providers, vendors). By integrating together tools like SurveyMonkey Apply, Salesforce, Google Sheets, GMail and Eventbrite we can start to see the potential of these principles in helping us increase our capacities to engage, analyze and iterate.

You can see the webinar here:

Supercharge Your Software – Survey Monkey Apply




Philanthropy and Leading from the Emerging Future of Work

By | Future of work | No Comments

Innovation and disruption surround us, dramatically influencing dynamics in every workplace. The philanthropic sector is not immune to these changes and can observe and replicate effective practices already being adopted by the private sector.

GrantBook would like to engage in the conversation about such practices through a four blogs series on shifts which will impact the future of work in philanthropy, as well as the rest of the world. Each blog post will focus on one of the four disruptions (the “4 D’s”): Datafication, Digitization, Disintermediation and Demographic.


New Skills in Philanthropy

GrantBook has been tracking trends in new jobs in private sector companies such as Airbnb, Fitbit, Altschool, Dyson, Netflix, Spotify, Scotiabank and Kabbage and sharing why philanthropic foundations might want to pay attention to these trends in imaging the future of work in their own organizations.  Co-founder of GrantBook, Anil Patel, shared his findings recently with audiences at Community Foundation of Canada,  Belong Conference (Ottawa, May 2017), Calary Foundation, McConnell Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation.  Job skills which are needed in philanthropy include Agile & Scrum, Statistical analysis, and integration and multiple jobs which include “data”.


What will change for Philanthropy?

Philanthropic organizations will have to rely more on technology, data and analytics to keep pace with the changing world, including adapting their grantmaking and other processes, changing the way they communicate and share knowledge and identifying new opportunities learning organization enabled to reach its highest potential.

Why?  One disruptor is Datafication.  “Datafication is the conversion into bits and bytes of activities, interactions and relationships between entities participating in the world of work, making it easier to use analytics to understand workflow and work dynamics”.1

This means that all staff working in philanthropic foundations are leaving a digital footprint wherever the go, both on the inside and outside the foundation.  Foundation owned assets (computers, devices, etc.) are continuously capturing data of all kinds.  Without a data strategy, this data collection may be random and not very controlled, making it clear that just having all of this data is not enough. Foundations must be able to make sense of the data they are collecting.

Evolution of Data

Data analytics has evolved from just obtaining information on organizational activities for better decision making to the advent of big data in the mid-2000’s. Data sets grew exponentially with data generated by machines and devices as well as mass amounts created by individuals via emails, surveys, video, audio, social media, etc.

GrantBook has observed, that many philanthropic foundations in North America are still primarily collecting data on their internal activities (data for action) such as financial data, program data and are only beginning to embark on effective collection of data for impact.  The fundamental question is, “What data can you collect about the problems you are trying to solve?”

Now we find ourselves in the era of Analytics 3.0, when every transaction on any device or machine leaves a digital footprint.  Organizations can analyze these patterns and provide intelligent customer offerings.  For philanthropy, the opportunity exists to collect and aggregate data for higher potential fundraising, grantmaking and impact.


What can philanthropists do?

Be proactive in leading your organization from the emerging future of work.

Stay informed: The first step is to gain awareness and, as an organization, take advantage of datafication. This includes acquiring skills through thought leadership and publications, conferences and event venues where data and analytics is at the center. The goal is to understand the language of the field and reflect on the impact it will have on your internal and external stakeholders. Ultimately this will enable you to identify the opportunities data and analytics can provide to inform decisions, detect patterns, find the path that can enable a lasting impact, in line with the strategic mandate of your organization.

Start small and iterate

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of technology and solutions available on the market. Which one do you choose? Which one will provide the best solution? How can you implement it if you don’t have internal skills? Instead spend quality time on formulating the business or impact question you want to address and be very clear on what will you do, if you had the answer to that question. Then think about the types of data that would be necessary to answer that question. Most of the time you will not need anything more sophisticated than a spreadsheet tool to do that type of analysis. The more questions you attempt to answer, the easier it will become to understand the technology needs. For example, if data quality is poor, then you will need data cleansing and data quality management capabilities, if you have a large body of data you will need to consider big data or scalable solutions, if you want to enable self-service access to data on ongoing basis, you will need to consider visualization solutions and so on.

Partner to Pilot

A faster path to embracing datafication is to partner with a multitude of solution providers who offer both consulting and analytics services. They would typically use a structured consultative approach to clarify the question and determine the data and analysis necessary to answer it. Such partnerships help you gain fast successes and learn through the process, then determine if such capabilities need to be established internally or ongoing partnership can be a more cost effective and efficient solution.

More information can be found here (data management) and here (analytics).

In the near future, you will reconfigure your work environment, have a digital and data strategy, understand a path to high potential impact, and know which different skills and experiences you can bring into your organization to manage your work in a digital and data-enabled way.

Learn more at the experiential workshop, “Lead from the Emerging Future of Work”. December 6, 2017, New York City.  Register at Eventbrite:  This workshop is co-facilitated by, Stela Lupushor, and GrantBook Inc., Michelle N. Moore.

1”Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of the Internet at Work” Chapter 21, The Future of Work, Stela Lupushor and Alex Fradera

Continuous Learning – adapting to automation in philanthropy

By | Future of work, Integrations, Productivity, Strategy, Talent | No Comments

By: James Law

Full disclosure: I’m a child of the 90s; but even so, I’m often reminded that the way we work is undergoing unprecedented change. We’ve moved from streamlined careers, telephones and paper-based datasheets to meandering career paths, video conferencing and virtually unlimited sources of data on the net.

While these developments have helped us as workers, task automation is much more disruptive and can feel threatening especially as debates around decent work heat-up and tangible examples of job-replacement arise (in 2015, logistics accounted for ~8% of US GDP).

Though automation is largely framed as a corporate question (e.g. manufacturing, banking, etc.), increasing pressure to be financially transparent and results-driven have forced foundations and non-profits to consider, learn and adopt the efficiencies made possible by technology in their day-to-day work. Specifically, what we often hear from EDs and Board members is that routine administrative tasks need to be automated, targeting overhead costs to an internally determined goal. In some cases, they need to easily aggregate data to measure impact.

This often is a trigger for Foundations to ask us to help them with their Digital Strategy, solution selection process and to build their integration/automation strategy. While we are always glad to help, our human-centred approach requires us to take pause. In particular, having completed over 120 projects in the grantmaking space, we see the conversation around automation getting heavy as yhree core questions and insecurities emerge:

Integrating continuous learning, training, and education into organization’s day-to-day operations and culture is a key answer to many of these concerns. An article by The Economist in early 2017, suggests that as automation puts some jobs at risk, employees need to pursue iterative education and training to learn how to perform new roles. We see this principle echoed in conversations around machine-learning in corporate finance and more recently in Scott Heartly’s book The Fuzzy and the Techie, suggesting that the future of work lies in softer skills and people skills which are needed in order to guide human-centric design in technology. In short, there is always more valuable and strategic work to be done that currently, only humans can do, but re-training will become habitual in order to accommodate this shift. 

Leading up to  TAG’s 2017 conference (with a focus on learning), GrantBook will be sharing our technical and people-focused research and recommendations on integrations, automations and change management. From blog posts to webinars to at-booth workshops, we want to help grantmakers large and small understand and prepare for the future of work.
This coming week we’ll start by discussing the what and how of integrations and automations with our partners at SurveyMonkey Apply.

Social Presencing: An Embodied Practice for Social Impact

By | GrantBook News | No Comments

Organizations striving for social impact are often stuck. It comes with the territory of the sector we choose to work in.  A reflective practice, done collectively, using the individual body, can provide new perspectives, solutions, and insights.

A “stuck” in an organization is something a team is trying to create, change or innovate that is not moving forward.  Stucks reside in individual team members as well as in the activities and results the team is creating together.

GrantBook’s Michelle Moore is currently part of a team at MIT’s Presencing Institute actively engaged in bringing Social Presencing, a body-based, experiential learning toolkit, to organizations to fuel transformative change.

The Scottish Civil Service, Los Angeles School System and Eileen Fisher are examples of large organizations using Social Presencing for insight and systems change.

GrantBook piloted Social Presencing with its entire team during the summer visioning retreat.  The team formed individual as well as group body sculptures representing various stucks in the context of personal goals, company growth and the “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” in the larger philanthropic ecosystem.

In addition, GrantBook worked with a member organization of the network, in July.  During a day-long experiential session, the TFA leadership team was guided through Social Presencing activities to work through leadership blindspots.  The team used the core stuck exercise to allow the highest potential of its Theory of Change to emerge. One participant reflected, “I realized that although our team feels tensions, both overall and between one another, when the going gets tough we are there for each other.”

This fall, GrantBook continues to offer this new approach to develop skills like creativity, innovation, intuition, collective insight and more at a New York City based philanthropic foundation as well as with the board of a Canadian museum.

For details on Social Presencing, continue reading or contact

Read More About GrantBook’s Social Presencing Services

Armenian Civil Society: GrantBook reflections on discussions with Armenian Foundations and NGOs

By | Collaboration, Conversations | No Comments

Michelle Moore, Managing Director of GrantBook, visited Armenia in July 2017.  These are reflections on discussions with Armenian Foundations and NGOs.

Highlights of this Blog

Key opportunities for Armenian philanthropy to reach high levels of impact include:

  1. ACHIEVE Separation of Roles. Avoid the continued hybrid foundation which acts as both funder and program implementer which limits focus and effectiveness  
  2. START Formal Grantmaking. Focus strategic mandate in a few specific areas and align grantmaking strategy with strategic short, medium and long-term impact goals.  Establish formal grantmaking processes in foundations to build trust in the sector & achieve transformative impact
  3. GET Digital Strategy.  Invest in the right set of integrated cloud-based technologies to enable activation & realization of the strategic mission. True capacity building cannot happen in the absence of a digital strategy. 
  4. GET Data Strategy. Collect data about the problems you are trying to solve, to demonstrate longer-term impact.  Collect data that improves the way your team acts. 
  5. COLLABORATE TO INNOVATE. Stakeholders in Armenia have the opportunity to come out of their own silos, to generate action for common causes.  Private sector innovation can collaborate with social innovators and vice versa.

Read the full report here


Community Foundations – Innovating in the orbit of “do good” banking

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

By James Law

Impact Investing – a Market Shift

Community Foundations used to be the only place where your money could “do good” with traditional banks offering only for-profit investment.   With consumers  shifting towards investing for positive impact, banks are increasingly providing options for impact investment.

Having lost their monopoly on conscious investing, Community Foundations find themselves in the middle of a rapidly growing marketplace with their uniqueness dwindling and donor expectations rising.

Banking on Good

As consumer preferences have shifted, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) investing, social impact investing and charitable gift programs have grown to be part of the standard offerings of wealth management firms and financial institutions. Coupled with their robust administrative engines, which provide easy to access investor statements, white-glove customer service and simple tax management, banks are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the charitable space.  Savvy investors are considering investment service providers as a one-stop-shop for  all their financial needs.  They want convenience, transparency and speed on top of the “good” investing, like being able to login online, see fund returns and charitable giving information.

Donor Expectations

Since financial institutions have moved into impact investing, many donors are expecting Community Foundations to provide a professional level of service, enabled by technology.  Large banks deliver online portals and transactions, immediate personalized service and quick turnaround times. Community Foundations don’t have the luxury of large budgets for donor relationship management and will have to take innovative approaches in their digital strategies to provide the high level, digitally enabled services donors are demanding.  

GrantBook helps Community Foundations by recommending right-sized tools that work together to meet their donor needs.

Right Sized Tools that Work Together

If your Community Foundation is considering an investment in technology, it is important to ask the right questions before choosing tools. For example,

  • What are the priorities and needs of all stakeholders?
  • How can we reduce inefficiencies while remaining diligent and compliant?
  • How can we get a team agreement on how to move forward?

Working with Community Foundations, GrantBook has seen success in implementing cloud-based fund and grants management systems with donor portals and self-serve options.  This solution  eases the administrative burden placed on Community Foundation staff members. Taking advantage of automations and integrations between e-mail, e-commerce and newsletter solutions can reduce manual data entry and errors.  These types of solutions allow Foundation staff to work more openly, breathe easier and take the time needed to focus on strategic activities.

Protecting Your Technology Investment

Managing through change is a challenge in any organization.  Transforming people, organization, processes and technology is even harder.  However, when co-development with full stakeholder inclusion is applied, the risk of a failed technology investment is greatly mitigated.

Through GrantBook’s experience in Digital Strategy, we’ve seen the benefits of bringing staff members together to share their concerns, challenges and ideas for moving forward.Creating alignment on a Digital Strategy can allow a Community Foundation to make small innovations already in the minds of staff. While technology tools and solutions can enable innovation, investing in the users of these tools is where these game-changing moments can occur.

The  “how” of transformation is the key to Community Foundation sustainability and relevance.  With the appropriate strategy, Community Foundations can make the most of their nimble size to positively impact their communities.

GrantBook is a team of philanthropy advisors enabling greater net value through technology,  process  and people  strategies – resulting in transformative social impact.

Community Foundations facing Disruption: Re-imaging Talent & Digital Strategy – Key for Survival

By | Community Foundation, Talent | No Comments

By Anil Patel & Michelle N Moore

Community Foundations are complex entities with many moving parts, whether small and rural with with few staff, Donor Advised Funds and nonprofits to support, or the large urban counterpart.  

Looking closer at the mandate, structure, policies and procedures, the real functional parts appear: part financial institution, community organizer, fundraiser, program deliverer and grant maker.


While participating in recent philanthropic events, (Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Technology Affinity Group), GrantBook listened to Community Foundation stakeholders share stories of complexity, disruption and needed change.  

There are daily transactional complexities like preparing Donor Advised Fund Statements.  There is new competition as the Community Foundation is forced to compete with CSR programs and social investment products to provide the “doing good” investment vehicle.  Finally, the growing technological disruption is impacting our economy and large groups of workers.

Dr. Emmett Cason (Silicon Valley Community Foundation) highlighted the key leadership challenges facing Community Foundations during his thought provoking speech at the Vital City Shift Event (hosted by Calgary Foundation):

  • Leadership must recognize and have acute awareness that technology disruption will require a philanthropic guidelines shift (as self-driving trucks may eliminate the need for long-haul truck drivers);
  • Leadership must embrace the mindset of acting local and global simultaneously to account for our increasing human connectivity, be it technological or epidemic (as seen by the outbreak of Ebola in Africa with its potential to spread to our local communities).

Community Foundation – Talent & Technology Landscape

The examples of disruption caused GrantBook to pause and conduct an assessment of the Community Foundation landscape. In December 2016, we analyzed publically available data on 30+ Community Foundations (33% Canadian, 63% US). With $19 billion under management, a median asset size of $520 million and 1,113 staff members organized within seven departments (see table below), Community Foundation’s are complex machines.

Considering all the events they host, grantees they convene, funds they raise, research they produce, grants they provide, fundholders to cater to, and collaborators they have to work with, Community Foundation’s get a lot done despite minimal discretionary resources to invest in expensive technologies or unproven methodologies. However, we’ve heard first hand there is a gap, in people, process and IT investment that meets the future wants and needs of Community Foundation staff.  Can this gap continue?

This gap is most evident when looking at existing Community Foundation organizational structures and talent (skills) represented.  The chart below depicts the 7 typical functional areas of a Community Foundation.

This simple chart tells us how heavy the workload and investment is for the functions, Finance and Granting & Investments, and how sparse the attention is on community insights through creative, data and technology talent.

GrantBook’s innovation strategy is based on the power of observation from within and outside the sector, leading us to understand how other industries and companies have responded in talent & technology management to similar disruptions, competition, and transactional complexities.  Thus, GrantBook developed the following method of inquiry:


What other industries are undergoing substantial and rapid change?


What are the companies that are leading the disruption?


How are they building their teams & attracting top talent?


What is one example of a job description that is reflective of their innovation?

Our inquiry revealed that Community Foundations have the opportunity to apply some of the lessons learned to remain relevant and stay ahead of disruption.  Other sectors are leading the change required to meet the disruption head-on in order to deliver on their strategic mandates.  Some examples are given below for the travel, health, education and other sectors.

Career pages and job postings reveal some clear trends for talent including new terms like: “insights”, “prototyping”, “agile”, “experience”, “data”, “user”. In the chart below, disruptive companies and their recent job postings are highlighted (December 2016)

The research shows that companies are hiring and designing their organizational structures, to build for life in the fast lane, a lane full of disruptions.

Fighting for Talent

There is a whole new set of sought-after jobs such as User-experience Designers, Data Scientists, Scrum Masters, and API specialists that are being gobbled up. For instance, there are nearly 130 positions for Scrum Masters/Agile Consultants on LinkedIn alone:

The Future of the Community Foundation

What does this all mean for the Community Foundation movement? Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Should boards invest – with the same urgency as banks – in FinTech innovation?  (see example at
  • How can Senior management reimagine their talent and digital strategy to support a digitally enabled, creative team?
  • What opportunities are there for existing front line staff to train up to thrive in 2017 and beyond?

Why? Growing assets through fundraising might help. Automating systems may deliver efficiencies. Investment strategies that outperform the market could do the trick. But highly engaged – and digitally empowered – teams will win the day.  

How the Cloud protected a Philanthropic Foundation from Paying Hackers

By | Box | No Comments

Canadian Family Foundation Attacked

By Kenny Li

GrantBook was contacted by its client, a small family foundation, when a staff member noticed files missing from the usual folders……..with foreign files showing up in their place. They were in a bit of a panic as all preparations for the board meeting the next day had disappeared!

Is the charitable sector immune to cyber attacks?

The recent cyber attacks on Carleton University (Canada) and the San Francisco local transit authority, with ransomware hackers demanding $39,000 and $93,000 respectively, may have gone unnoticed to professionals working in the philanthropic sector.

However, around the same time a Canadian foundation was also attacked.  Again, hackers deployed ransomware* and were demanding payment to restore access to foundation files.

*Ransomware is a type of cyber attack (malware) that sends a virus through an organization, encrypting files with a password known only to the hackers. A financial ransom is demanded from the victim to unlock the files and regain access. Without the password, organizations find it extremely difficult to decrypt and get their information back in good condition. For example, the University of Calgary made the controversial choice to pay a $20,000 ransom earlier this year to regain access to their systems.

How BOX saved the day

This foundation stores their files in a cloud-based software called Box. Everyone uses the tool, Box Sync, to keep files synchronized between a personal desktop folder and the Web.

The ransomware virus deleted all the files on the infected computer (including files in the Box Sync folder), replacing them with garbled-looking, encrypted copies. Box Sync then shared these “updates” with the rest of the team, syncing the encrypted (bad) files to all computers in the organization.

The GrantBook team reviewed usage logs to identify the infected computer (likely infected after the user clicked a link in an email).   Box’s file history was used to reverse the damaging changes (made by the hackers). GrantBook got the foundation up and running again – just in time for their end of year board meeting!

While initially Box made the problem worse by spreading these bad files, Box ultimately saved the day.

Protect your Foundation with Risk Management

Too often, foundations do not utilize standard risk management practices, including adequate protection against technology risks. This puts operations and confidential information at risk of threats such as hard drive failure, computer theft and ransomware.

Without a robust Cloud storage tool like Box, the foundation would have been faced with the choice of paying ransom (with no guarantee of having the files released), or accept the loss and start over.

Consider Cloud-based Tools

Adoption of cloud-computing in the philanthropic sector is increasing. However, many foundations believe files stored outside of physical computers (and out of immediate control) are at risk of a cyber attack. This fear is based on the assumption that files are more secure if access, storage, security and backups are fully managed in-house.

GrantBook believes that the right Cloud-based tools, combined with best practice enterprise-wide risk management standards (including technology risk mitigation) can enable philanthropists to focus more of their time and efforts on solving world problems.

Contact GrantBook today for a conversation.

GrantBook is a team of philanthropy advisors enabling greater net value through technology, process & people strategies resulting in transformative social impact.

From Grantmaking to Impact Investing – with Measurement!

By | Conference | No Comments

TAG 2016 Conference Highlights

By Anil Patel & Michelle N Moore

The Technology Affinity Group conference “Impact: Collectively Changing Communities” (Nov. 14-17, 2016) was a sold out gathering of 275 philanthropic COOs, IT Directors, Operations & Grants Managers and Accidental but Purposeful Techies.

Key questions overheard, indicating a shift in mindset about granting, included:

How can we

  • change the mindset from “grantmaking workflow” to “investment workflow”?
  • view grants as investment vehicles?
  • shift the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role from administrative to decision support?
  • shift a Program Officer role from due diligence to investor?

The Measuring Impact plenary was a highlight.  Led by Mariana Catz, with panelists pictured below, expertise was shared on how tech innovation in granting platforms and the subsequent tech disruptions have affected our ability as a sector to measure impact.

Mariana Catz
Ontario Trillium Foundation
View Linkedin Profile

Michelle DiSabato
View LinkedIn Profile

David Goodman
View LinkedIn Profile

Henry Bromelkamp
Bromelkamp LLC
View LinkedIn Profile

Mariana shared, “we are change agents, not technology people!” This shift is illustrated in her team’s job titles as ‘Impact Investment Specialists’ rather than ‘Grants Managers’.

Evidence-based Philanthropy

MicroEdge’s Michelle DiSabato, noted there has been a big shift in recent years from ‘philanthropy via grants’ into ‘investing into communities. Michelle recounted her previous corporate philanthropy role when her CFO challenged the team to stop chequebook philanthropy driven by emotion and move towards evidence based philanthropy.

Culture Shift towards High Quality, Shared Data

David Goodman of Fluxx noted that simply adding a dedicated researcher to a foundation will not solve the impact puzzle. Rather, the entire organization’s cultural commitment to finding useful, credible data is needed while communicating this information in an engaging, easily understood way to foundation board members. Systems integration is also key. Core technologies (e.g. Office Productivity, CRM, GMS) must connect so that information can be sliced and diced.

Using External Data

Henry Bromelkamp was helping a national arts coalition develop a common taxonomy that would allow for longitudinal data collection and analysis when the danger of formulaic funding models became apparent. For instance, if an application for funding scored 0.8 based on rubric, it would only get 0.8 of the funding. He encouraged data-hungry decision makers to consider pulling external data sources (e.g. census data) into their decision-making software for additional context not otherwise visible in a grant application.

Engaging conversation continued at the Exhibitor Booths with questions on how to:

  • ensure team members have access to technologies they love using?
  • make sure data is secure and safe?
  • ensure data is accurate across software applications?
  • properly budget for all the associated costs?
  • develop a data strategy so an organization can measure impact?
  • design the right data and dashboards?
  • anonymize data for open data sharing purposes?

What questions do you have?

GrantBook believes in connecting people, processes and technology for greater social impact. We look forward to sharing the HOW with you at;