System Print

Blackbaud Grantmaking

The 2018 launch announcement of Blackbaud Grantmaking signaled the next stage in the evolution of GIFTS Online, the grants management system Blackbaud had acquired from MicroEdge in 2014. Along with the relaunch and rebranding, the vendor has also developed new modules and integrations using its SKY open-source cloud platform. The core application currently in release still uses the GIFTS Online Microsoft Silverlight architecture, but new portals for grantees and an outcomes reporting and tracking module are built with the new SKY UX framework. The vendor reports that it is working to update the core application to the SKY UX framework as well. The core system provides a strong base for tracking and managing grants, organizations, contacts, and payments, with more than 200 standard reports built into the system and ad hoc reporting that can include virtually any field included in the system. Administrators can configure dashboards for each user that show assigned tasks and can include charts and tables that can be used to drill down for more information. A series of optional modules add features such as portals that allow foundations to collect progress reports and application reviews online; tools to create and manage numerous custom fields and forms…


Grant, Contact & Organization Records: Blackbaud Grantmaking provides solid support for tracking grants, organizations, and contacts throughout the entire lifecycle. All information is linked so that users can view related records and data across records, and grants can be tracked by program cycle, board meeting date, or categories. Organization records are separate from grant records so that you can see grant history and multiple contacts can be associated with an organization. The system records all system-generated correspondence and users can log other communications and activities as well. Blackbaud does offer plugins for Outlook and Gmail that allow users to capture emails from those external email systems into organization and grant records.

During implementation, a foundation can create a hierarchical base taxonomy to control and define classification and coding that can be maintained and updated by administrators. Administrators can customize field names and define dropdown values for fields in the database. In addition, with the optional Blueprint module, administrators can create up to 1,000 custom fields per record type to capture additional data, such as demographic data for organizations, projects, and programs, and organize them into sections so that information is easy to find on screen. Users can run status checks against the IRS nonprofit database individually or in batch with a subscription to Blackbaud’s Tax Information Service. The system also supports multicurrency handling, allowing foundations to make payments in different currencies and report in dollars. Exchange rates are adjusted manually and an administrator can choose to update the exchange rate for previously awarded grants when a change is made or apply it only to new grants.

Grant Applications:

Applicants can create a profile (or log into an existing profile) and complete an online application. When the application is submitted, an administrator reviews the application and moves those that are eligible for consideration into the core system.

The system allows applicants to create a new account even if there is one already in the system but notifies administrators of potential duplicates based on contact name or organization name. Applicants can autopopulate organization information in an application via an integration with GuideStar and the system can pre-load information from previous applications into the application form. The module allows for eligibility quizzes that include a branching mechanism that can direct an applicant to multiple applications, as well as branching logic within application forms. Administrators can create as many application forms as they would like, configure applications, and control logos, colors, and fonts on the portal. Data entered into the application is auto-saved as the applicant moves from tab to tab.

Applicants can choose to share applications through the portal with other individuals in their organizations and with individuals at other organizations, but this permission is view-only and only one person (the application “owner”) is able to make edits to the application.

Application Review:

The application review functions in the core system support the assignment of applications to reviewers or committees , the creation of different information or scoring schemes for programs, as well as the ability to define multiple workflows for grants review processes. An automated email notifies reviewers when they have an application assigned to them. Administrators can see numeric scores from individual reviews and the system will aggregate the scores to report an average score.

An optional Reviewer module provides reviewer portal functionality for external reviewers to submit online reviews. This module enables discussions so that reviewers can see comments and questions from other reviewers (but at this time cannot see other reviewers’ scores). Administrators can also provide reviewers with information about an organization’s request history by running an organization report and sharing the results as a document in the portal.


Blackbaud Grantmaking’s core system allows users to send emails to individuals and groups through the system that include both standard text and merge data and attach documents to those emails. Email performance metrics such as deliveries, opens, and clickthroughs are not available. Email, letter, and document templates that include both standard text and merge data can be created and maintained in the system, but at this time the functionality only works in Windows operating environments. If a foundation has the optional Reviewer module it can leverage that portal functionality to share documents with board members or the system can connect with third-party board portal software via an API.

Payments & Budgeting:

Payment scheduling and tracking is available in the core system, allowing users to define a default payment schedule for all grants that can be adjusted individually or to create a payment schedule on a grant-by-grant basis. Payments can be made contingent on the completion of a grant requirement, such as the submission of a grant report, and the system will not trigger payment until the report is submitted. Payments can be exported to ***Finance as a .csv and the system will mark the record as paid on export, and foundations can use the system’s API to import payment details from ***finance into the system. In addition, Blackbaud provides integrations with several accounting systems via its optional Accounts Payable module.

The optional Budget module provides the ability to define programmatic budgets and track what has been paid, committed, and available. Administrators can set up hierarchical budgets, use previous budgets as a base and adjust them for the current year, and split payments across more than one program so that they can roll up to the appropriate budgets. The module also provides the ability to create different dashboards for budget forecasts and to predict cash flow needs.

Grant Requirements & Outcomes Evaluation:

The system allows foundations to define grant requirements, either as a default for all grant opportunities, by program, or by individual grant opportunities, and track which requirements grantees have met. Grantees will receive automatic reminders based on requirement due dates.

The optional Online Applications and Requirements module allows foundations to collect grantee progress reports through online forms and move them into the core system. These forms can collect both qualitative and quantitative information that can be used in reports. An optional Outcomes module allows for more in-depth collection and tracking of outcomes metrics. This module allows foundations to define specific outcomes that tie back to overall program goals and surface them to an applicant during the application process so that the applicant can select and define which metrics apply to their grant. A taxonomy based on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals is built into the Outcomes module. The outcomes reporting is accessed in the module rather than via the report manager, and allows users to track progress toward goals for each grant and to summarize this data at the programmatic level.

System Querying & Reporting:

A global search bar at the top of each page allows users to search within core system modules or across all modules, including the ability to search documents uploaded to the system. Blackbaud Grantmaking includes more than 200 standard reports with the system in the reports manager and users can mark their favorite reports so that they can easily be found. While standard reports are not editable by users, ad hoc reporting allows users to generate reports using virtually any field included in the system. Reports can be scheduled to run at a specified time with the results sent to users. Administrators can configure dashboards for each user that include charts and tables that allow the user to drill down for more information.

Security, Permissions, & Data Access:

Administrators are able to grant, limit, or restrict user access to a wide variety of system functions and these permissions can be configured during implementation. An audit log records system access, actions, and changes. Login security is managed through systemenforced password complexity rules and can be integrated with Single Sign On. Users are automatically logged out from the system after a specified time period of inactivity.

The system data resides on a private cloud server. While all system data can be extracted, an administrator needs to work with Blackbaud’s consulting team to do the full extraction. Blackbaud has experience integrating with numerous third-party software providers and also provides open REST APIs to allow clients to extend system functionality.

User Experience:

The system interface is polished and neatly laid out. The modules for which the user has access are laid out in tabs across the top of the screen when the user logs into their dashboard, but navigation moves to the left column when the user is in a record. Some modules, such as Online Applications and Requirements and Outcomes, have a different look and feel from the main system and do not appear in the tabs on the dashboard. Administrators can see and control dashboards for all users and have the ability to create a simplified dashboard for casual users, such as executive leadership.

The current version of the core Blackbaud Grantmaking application is built in Microsoft Silverlight, which requires users to have Silverlight installed on their workstation. The document management features in the system (Document Template Manager and Document Check In/Check Out) require a Windows operating system and are compatible only with Internet Explorer. The Silverlight framework also prevents compatibility with some assistive technologies. The vendor reports that it is updating the core application so that it is built in Blackbaud’s open source SKY UX user experience framework, which provides better support for assistive technologies. The vendor reports that the grantee and reviewer portals in the current system are being rebuilt using the SKY UX framework, which provides responsive design and better compliance with accessibility guidelines. Customers who subscribe to the Outcomes module currently are able to offer an enhanced grantee portal experience. Blackbaud does offer an app for mobile devices, which is available in app stores as “GIFTS Online Mobile.”

Support & Training:

Video training for users via Blackbaud University is included in the subscription price for the system and Blackbaud will work with customers to provide customized onsite training at an additional price. Technical support for clients is available online and via telephone and email, with enhanced support packages available. Blackbaud will also provide technical support to a client’s applicants as part of a managed services offering (which is available at an additional fee).

Stability in the Market

The current iteration of Blackbaud Grantmaking (formerly GIFTS Online) has been in use since 2009. The vendor does not disclose client counts.

Customer Experience Survey
Number of survey respondents who reported using the system: 94
Percent of survey respondents who would recommend the system: 26.6 percent
Training Score: 0.75
Implementation Score: 0.82
Support Score: 0.46