Grant, Contact & Organization Records: CC Grant Tracker provides good support for tracking grants, organizations, and contacts. Users can track grants by program cycle, board meeting date, and category, as well as by percentage or dollar allocation across programs. A timeline of milestones displays at the top of each grant with estimated and actual completion dates included. Organizations and contacts are tracked separately from grants so that users can see the history of all grants to an organization with links to related records. All system-generated emails and letters are attached to the associated contact record and grant record. Emails sent from outside the system can be sent to the system and either manually attached to a grant record by an administrator or automatically attached if the sender puts the grant reference number at the start of the subject line. The system’s journal feature allows users to log activities such as phone calls and site visits on a record and also allows attachments.
Administrators can customize names and define dropdown values for fields used in the administrative interface, such as program or grant codes, and can create a virtually unlimited amount of custom fields to store internal tracking codes, demographic data, or information submitted by grantees. Custom fields can be organized into sections, tabs, and/or pages. Demographic data collection can be collected for organizations, projects, and programs. Administrators can also define custom categorization codes for tracking and reporting. Users can manually assign tasks to others in the system and tasks can be assigned through workflow as well. Assigned tasks appear on a user’s dashboard. The system does not offer the ability to look up organization records and tax status in a 501(c)(3) database. The system does support giving in multiple currencies—grant applicants can apply for funds in their own currency and the system holds the exchange rate using a client’s Bloomberg feed. Exchange rates can be snapshot at the time a grant is awarded or can be set to use the current live rate.
Grant Applications: The system provides a single portal that provides access for applicants, grantees, and reviewers. The portal can be branded with an organization’s logo and colors. When a new applicant creates a profile, the system checks the email address against the database and prompts the user if the address already exists. Foundations can include an eligibility quiz for applicants, but it cannot branch to multiple applications. It is possible to create a portal offering multilingual content, but the vendor reports it would require custom development.
Application forms are created using a drag-and-drop interface and can feature a wide variety of field types. An administrator can also copy fields and pages from previous applications into new forms. Application forms can include branching logic and administrators can create help text for fields. Data entered into an application is saved as an applicant migrates from page to page. In addition to asking applicants to enter budgets via the online form, administrators have the option of providing an Excel and/or PDF template for an applicant to download, complete, and upload that parses the data into the corresponding system fields. Applicants can also upload attachments that can be previewed in the system by users and downloaded. The vendor reports that it has completed a proof of concept that would allow an applicant to fill out an offline form for a simple application that can be uploaded and parsed into the corresponding fields, but this is not yet included as core system functionality. The vendor also reports that integration with a third-party electronic signature tool is on its 2020 roadmap.
The system facilitates multi-organization collaboration on applications, both by allowing applicants to define external participants and control their access to different parts of the application and by enabling multi-partner projects that provides a parent/subgrant relationship in which progress is tracked at the parent level and finances are tracked at the subgrant level. Applicants also have the ability to view a full audit log of changes to their application.
Application Review: CC Grant Tracker provides advanced functionality in the area of application reviews. Each grant program can have its own review process and scoring scheme and administrators have the ability to create a wide variety of different types of questions or scoring.
As with applicants, reviewers can access applications assigned to them through the portal. Items for review are displayed as links to PDFs of the application form that the reviewer can view onscreen or download as a package. Administrators can choose to include a full history of the applicant’s requests and grant awards on the PDF. Reviewers can self-identify as interested in reviewing an application via the “Request and Conflict” function, which provides reviewers with a list of applications in the pool, links to application summaries, and the ability to indicate if they have a conflict of interest or an interest in reviewing. The system also allows for an algorithm-based auto-assignment of applications to reviewers that takes into consideration review workload and expertise.
The “Live Meeting” functionality in the system is set up to facilitate panel or board meetings. This can allow reviewers to see comments and scores on applications and can allow administrators to create and distribute board dockets, record attendance linked to the meeting, and share meeting agendas.
Communications: Users can send emails and attachments to individuals and groups through the system or the system can be set up so that these emails are sent through the grantmaker’s server. The system includes standard email and letter templates and also the ability to create custom email, letter, and document templates that can include both standard text and merge data, as well as attached files. System-generated letters can be viewed and personalized before being printed. In addition to providing board portal access and allowing the creation and distribution of board dockets, clients can also integrate with third-party board portal solutions using CC Grant Tracker’s API.
Payments & Budgeting: CC Grant Tracker provides robust payment and budget tracking for clients. An administrator can define a payment schedule that applies to all grants with the ability for users to adjust the amounts and dates for each grant or users can define a payment schedule on a grant-by-grant basis. Payments can be made contingent on a specified grant requirement and users can see upcoming scheduled payments and whether the grantee has met requirements linked with that payment. The system supports an automated payment approval process with configurable workflow steps as well as batch payment creation and batch updates of payment details. Payment data can be exported to finance systems or CC Grant Tracker can integrate with accounting software. Payment approval creates a transaction in the system that can then be pushed to the finance system; once the payment is processed, the confirmation file can be sent back, payment details added to the record, and the transaction marked as complete. The system can capture banking information from a grantee to support wire transfers. While the system does not include in-kind payments as a payment type, the vendor reports that there are a couple different system workarounds that can support these kind of transactions. Grants can be split across more than one program for budgeting purposes. Users can pull reports on payments and budgets that carry coding attributes of associated requests, organizations, and contacts and track budgets in a variety of ways: by the amount available, awarded, or paid in a particular year; or in hierarchically defined categories or program areas. It is possible to use previous years’ budgets as a base and adjust them for the current year and to use scheduled payment data to predict cash flow needs for a specified time period.
Grant Requirements & Outcomes Evaluation: The system provides a great deal of functionality in the area of grantee reporting and outcomes evaluation. Administrators have the ability to define a default set of grant requirements for all grant opportunities or define grant requirements by program or individual grant opportunity. Grantees can see required reports and their due dates on the portal and the system will also trigger automated emails prior to and after a report is due. Administrators can easily create both narrative and financial report forms and financial report forms can also include budget details entered into the grant application.
CC Grant Tracker supports impact measurement by allowing a foundation to define results frameworks or log frames at a grant, program, and organizational level. An administrator defines outcomes and impacts for programs and grants in the system and an applicant can select metrics from those defined elements during the application process. Grantees can then report on the progress toward those outcomes and that data is used to automatically calculate progress toward the grant outcomes and also can be aggregated on a project level and across a portfolio of projects. Each program in the system has a results-monitoring dashboard that displays the program’s metrics. The system also enables the capture and reporting of data along demographic and economic categories.
In addition to the outcomes dashboards, each project has a “Lessons Learned” section that allows users to capture project experiences and record learnings that can be applied to future projects.
System Querying & Reporting: Users have the ability to search for grants and applications by a number of criteria and view pre-packaged reports based on this filtered set of criteria. These search criteria can be saved as a filter and administrators can share these saved filters with others in the system if they wish. The system also offers a universal search that can retrieve results from all fields in the system as well as search the content of uploaded documents.
The system has a range of standard reports and users can use the report builder to create ad hoc reports that can include nearly any field in the system. Ad hoc reports can include custom data columns, datasets, sorting, grouping, logos, and headers, but data needs to be exported to Excel or a business intelligence/data visualization tool to create charts and graphs.
Administrators can schedule data exports to occur at certain times. The system offers a variety of standard dashboards that can be filtered by certain criteria, but adding data and visualizations from ad hoc reports to grant program dashboards would require customization and/or integration work.
Security, Permissions, & Data Access: Access control for the system can be very granular, with administrators able to define user permissions at the field level. Administrators can export all data stored within the system and can control access to export fields. Additionally, individual search fields can be restricted by permissions so that different people have different levels of access.
Login security is facilitated by system-enforced password complexity rules and automatic logout after a specified time period of inactivity. The vendor can integrate with services such as Azure AD, OKTA, and G-Suite to provide two-factor authentication and can enable Single Sign On. In addition, the vendor offers access to an API to allow clients to extend system functionality with other third-party tools.
All data resides on a virtual private server for each client instance and data is encrypted all the way from the browser to the end system. There is a virus scan for all files uploaded to the system.
User Experience: CC Grant Tracker offers a polished, neatly laid out interface. Modules run across the top of the screen in the administrative interface, with contextual navigation in the left column. Action buttons are clearly labeled. The system does include extensive submenu options in the contextual menus, which may mean that casual users of the system would need to spend more time looking for the action they want to take; however, administrators can control the menu items and actions certain users are able to see in the system and can mitigate this somewhat.
The top of grant records includes a timeline of key grant events, which provides users with the ability to determine the status of grant activities without having to run a report, look through fields, or read through text. Some terminology in the system is technical (e.g. use of the word “control” instead of “field” in the form designer) and some terms are more familiar to individuals and organizations in the research sector but the system does include detailed contextual help in many instances and the vendor reports that issues related to terminology differences are usually resolved quickly during initial system training. Applicants, grantees, and reviewers often have to click a button to validate their responses before being able to submit a form instead of having the system validate responses automatically on submission. The system is designed responsively to display across a variety of devices and does not offer a mobile app. While the system currently is not fully accessible to users with disabilities, the vendor reports that it is working to meet WCAG 2.1 AA/Section 508 standards throughout the product and expects to have compliance by 2021.
Support & Training: The vendor provides technical support to clients online and via telephone and email. The vendor’s support contract also includes an option to provide technical assistance to applicants, grantees and reviewers using the portal. The vendor provides full training to clients either via video conferencing or in person at launch as part of implementation and also on an ongoing basis as needed, subject to an additional fee.
Stability in the Market
CC Grant Tracker has been in use since 2006. The vendor reports that the software package has 51 active clients, with the majority of those being private or family foundation clients.
|Customer Experience Survey|
|Number of survey respondents who reported using the system: 24|
|Percent of survey respondents who would recommend the system: 93.8 percent|
|Training Score: 0.89|
|Implementation Score: 0.90|
|Support Score: 0.81|