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Over the last 20+ years, the time-consuming traditional “paper processes” for foundations to manage grants, oversee operations, navigate financials, facilitate communication, and report results shifted to online platforms that only replicate these tasks digitally. In contrast, Foundation Source offers an entirely new operational system that uses data to create actionable next steps and show predictive outcomes. Put simply, we help foundations give more efficiently—and most important—more impactfully.

Hence Foundation Source’s name for our operational system, Impactfully. A sophisticated, purpose-built cloud-based management platform, Impactfully gives foundations a single view of their charitable activities for better coordination between their administrative, grant, tax and investment teams. By helping foundations streamline their operations and administration, we afford their philanthropists more time to focus on what really matters—making a lasting and positive difference in the communities they serve.

In the time I’ve been with Foundation Source, I’ve enjoyed witnessing how our technology continues to improve our clients’ giving experiences. After all, when it comes to productivity, the philanthropic sector has typically lagged the private sector on spending, tools and innovation. Yet with technology like Impactfully, it’s finally reaping some of the same benefits that have been readily available in the for-profit space for years.

Recent Enhancements
Notably, the efforts of our product development teams in 2023 are to be commended. The enhancements they made to Impactfully have been game-changing for our clients—particularly the introduction of a mobile app that enables users to manage their foundations anytime and anywhere.

The enhancements also include:

  • A user-friendly dashboard for more efficient foundation management
  • The addition of an applicant portal that allows prospective grantees to access their applications, view grant statuses, track payments, save documents and download completed forms
  • More robust grants management capabilities with self-service tools that gives users more flexibility and streamlines their grant-making process
  • Improvement to our onboarding process for new clients so they have less information to complete and a tech-forward, seamless experience from day one
  • A streamlined tax prep functionality that improves efficiency and accuracy of returns
  • A boosted auto reconciliation feature that helps foundations match transactions between their financial accounts and their accounting records

Thanks to these advancements and, generally, to technology like Impactfully, traditional foundation giving is becoming a distant memory.

Are Manual Processes Limiting Your Foundation’s Impact?
Foundations that haven’t yet transitioned to online management might consider the following:

1. Do we have a consolidated view of our grantmaking?
To ensure mission-aligned grantmaking, it’s essential to have an end-to-end view of funding, partnerships, communications and workflows, which is challenging to do solely with a mix of paper and electronic files. Having a single, online operational dashboard that’s easy to use and configurable for every foundation member can substantially assist with making greater charitable impact.

2. Can our foundation members collaborate with each other easily?
Research shows that more than half of foundations are planning to become remote or hybrid workplaces, making the ability to collaborate effectively more important than ever. With a foundation management platform, using virtual to-do lists, task management, automated reminders, direct messaging, and shared notes makes collaboration easy and effective for foundation members. And seamless experiences between a mobile app, desktop platform and tablet are key features in enabling members to do their best work.

3. Are we sure our grantmaking is impactful and effecting positive change?
Having a clear view of where and how a foundation’s grantmaking is making a difference not only helps inform future gifts, but also encourages discussion and collaboration. Comprehensive grant portfolio visibility is available with technology like Foundation Source’s Impact Planner Tool that automates data collection and produces easy-to-read reports. Having a flexible tool that maintains consistent record keeping and provides real-time transparency to the foundation members is the key to achieving mission-related goals.

4. Do we still submit expense approvals through email?
Approving expenses by email has been a long-standing practice within foundations. Emails become buried, however, creating duplicate work for staff when they have to resend messages and follow up with texts. Online expense management alleviates this extra work and increases transparency by enabling efficient electronic submissions that route the requests to the appropriate approvers based on predefined rules and hierarchies.

5. Do we still manage grant applications and follow-up on paper?
Foundation staff toil away to make a difference in the world. Often the same staff person who’s out in the field and partnering with nonprofits is also running back to the office to complete paperwork and contracts to get money out the door. Doing everything on paper creates a disservice to both the foundation and to those it serves. Moving the entire process online from request to payout conserves valuable time and improves the process for everyone involved.

As technology continues to advance, I encourage foundations and their professional teams to embrace the collaboration, transparency and time- and cost-saving capabilities it affords. While improving efficiencies, a foundation management system offers insightful snapshots of where a foundation is today and alerts it to exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

Here at Foundation Source, we will continue to show the market that our technology remains poised for growth throughout the philanthropic space. For instance, we’ve recently built a Financial Advisor Tool, so that advisors can easily be onboarded within Impactfully and refer their high-net-worth clients to better serve them and optimize their offering. It’s an exciting time and we’re proud to play a role in supporting philanthropists to make the world a better place.

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Steve Aponte

Steve Aponte

vice president of product and strategy