System Print


GivingData has evolved significantly since 2016 and today is a solid option for foundations looking for a user-friendly solution to manage grants and evaluate impact. The key strengths of the system, which began in 2009 as a Business Intelligence overlay to MicroEdge GIFTS, lie in its payment and budget handling, outcomes and evaluation components, and advanced reporting capabilities. One feature that sets GivingData apart from other systems is its “Grantee 360” timeline. The timeline includes icons representing grants, payments, requirements, interactions, and “key moments” related to an organization. Users can zoom in on the timeline to focus on one particular segment and click on an icon to go to the corresponding record. Another interesting feature is the “Super Docs” format that allows users to embed merge fields in a document that update in the system as they are edited in the document. The current system does not include an external reviewer portal and review workflow capabilities, although the vendor reports that these features are currently in development and will be released in 2020. The system allows users to send emails to individuals and groups and to create letters and documents that include personalized data from fields in the system, but…


Grant, Contact & Organization Records: GivingData provides a streamlined set of tools for managing grants, organizations, and contacts. Each has a separate record and is associated with related records. Contacts can be associated with more than one organization, allowing foundations to track not just staff but also board members and trustees of organizations. Interactions are stored as separate objects in the database as well, with connections to related contact, organization, and grant records. Attachments uploaded to organization or grant records are stored in the document management platform that the foundation decides to use in connection with GivingData (e.g., Office 365/OneDrive or Box).

Additional data, such as demographic information, can be stored in organization records through the use of custom fields. Custom fields can be grouped in separate tabs or within sections of a tab in order to keep them organized. The system does not include a pre-loaded philanthropic industry taxonomy, but users have the ability to create a controlled vocabulary in the system to aid in classification. They also can use a user-generated “folksonomy” tagging system that includes predictive tagging ability.

The system automatically records all emails and letters generated as interactions. GivingData also provides an integration with Office 365, which allows you to link emails and attachments sent from your email to the appropriate records in the system and record calendar events such as phone calls, meetings, and site visits as interactions. The vendor reports that it is currently exploring the possibility of a similar integration with G Suite email.

Users can verify the tax-exempt status of an organization via the IRS Business Master File by entering the organization’s EIN. Users can also automatically link to GuideStar and ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer via an organization’s EIN but cannot currently pull information from these sources automatically into the GivingData database.

Grant Applications: GivingData’s online applicant portal (which also serves as a grantee portal to allow grantees to track grants following an award) is new since the 2016 Consumers Guide. Foundations now have the ability to collect applications online, using a variety of field types. Online applications do not yet have the ability to branch and eligibility quizzes can only include yes/no answers. Applications can include digital signatures via an integration with Adobe Sign, which requires the foundation to have an Adobe Sign account to make full use of the integration. The vendor reports that it expects to release an integration with DocuSign in 2020.

Applicants can create their own accounts online. The system will notify registrants if an account already exists with their email address. GivingData’s integration with the IRS Business Master File provides applicants with the ability to search for their organization with either the EIN or the legal name of the organization and they will be able to see possible matches and populate the legal name and address fields of the application. Applicants can add and remove other contacts from their organization to an application for collaboration purposes, and can even collaborate on a partnership application with a contact at another organization provided that contact has been associated with both organizations.

All data entered into an application is auto-saved to avoid the frustration of data loss. While foundations are able to add pictures and their logo to the landing page of the grantee portal and to online forms, there are limitations on a foundation’s ability to change font size and colors on an application.

Application Review: The application review capabilities of the system are limited to the ability to download printable grant information and summaries. The vendor reports that it is building an external review portal and online review functionality that will be released in early 2020, and that, at the same time, it will be adding board portal functionality to provide simplified access to the system for board members.

Communications: Users can send emails through the system to individuals and to groups via an integration with SendGrid, but at this time emails cannot include attached files. The vendor reports that email attachments are on the product roadmap and will be available by the end of 2020. Email performance metrics (deliveries, opens, clicks, etc.) are available.

GivingData provides the ability to create letter and document templates (including board dockets) that include standard text and merge fields and print or export the documents to PDF. The system’s “Super Docs” format allows users to insert merge fields in a document that will update in the system when changes are made in the document. Super Docs are also able to be exported to PDF.

Payments & Budgeting: Flexible payment and budgeting tools are a hallmark of the GivingData system. Administrators can define payment schedules individually or create a default schedule that applies to all grants. Payments can be made conditional upon the completion of a grant requirement and the system supports an automated payment process with configurable workflow steps. Users can see upcoming scheduled payments and whether the grantee has met requirements linked with that payment, as well as payments that have been made. It is possible to generate a report of payments made and the amount scheduled to be paid out in a given year, as well as pull reports on payments in a variety of categories. The system integrates with Intacct to facilitate the movement of payment data and can also move data to QuickBooks via the API.

Grantees can view the payment schedule for their awards and add and manage bank accounts to expedite the payment process through the grantee portal.

Foundations can track budgets by the amount available, awarded, or paid in a particular year, as well as in hierarchically defined categories. Budgeting can be multi-tiered and use different sub-categories for different funds.

Grant Requirements & Outcomes Evaluation: The system includes the ability for grantees to track requirement deadlines and submit reports online via the grantee portal. Grantees can also use the portal to request a grant amendment and submit additional information. Users can track the number and type of reports that are due in the near future on a requirements dashboard. The reports feed into GivingData’s learning and evaluation framework, which uses a three- or five-degree scale to capture progress toward outcomes that were defined in the application and automatically calculates how many grants follow in each category for each outcome. At this time users are not able to view target outcomes on the same screen as reports, but the vendor notes it is working toward releasing this enhancement in 2020.

System Querying & Reporting: The navigation across the top of the system provides access to a quick keyword search of organization, grant, and contact records. There is also a “Super Search” that provides more advanced functionality, including the ability to edit and reorder columns and column labels, to group fields, and to save the search as public or private. Users are able to do batch operations from Super Search results and export search results to Excel. At this time, the system does not index and search the contents of files uploaded to the system from within GivingData, but may be able to do so via the document management tool they use in connection with the system.

The reports tool provides even more sophistication with formatting and output than searches and include multiple query criteria or results sets and up to two levels of grouping, as well as simple calculations (sum, average, and count). At the time of this writing, users do not have the ability to add graphs and charts to reports or to schedule reports to run and be delivered, but the vendor reports both functions are on the 2020 product roadmap.

Security, Permissions, & Data Access: System administrators have a granular ability to grant or restrict user access to a wide variety of system functions. System security is assured by a variety of system controls, including system-enforced password complexity rules, automatic logout after a specified time of inactivity, and the ability to have Single Sign On (SSO). Depending on the SSO service the foundation uses, there is also the possibility of including two-factor authentication.

All client data resides in its own database, either on a virtual private server or on a standalone server. Virus scan of file uploads is governed by the cloud storage system the foundation uses in connection with GivingData.

While most system data can be extracted through the native Super Search, GivingData also provides an add-on offering which makes a copy of the database available for access via an ODBC connection to a third-party business intelligence or data visualization tool (with the exception of encrypted fields such as passwords and bank account information). GivingData also provides a robust API framework for additional third-party software integrations.

User Experience: The system interface is clean and polished, with easy to read text, large icons, and contrasting colors for action buttons and labels. Menu items are clearly labeled and sections where there are alerts or items needing attention are marked with orange exclamation points. The Grantee 360 timeline is a fairly intuitive visual representation of key data that a user can zoom in and click to access the related record.

The system is responsively designed to display across a variety of devices and is built to conform to W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and Section 508 guidelines. GivingData also integrates web accessibility testing into its code release QA process to ensure alignment with these standards.

Support & Training: Initial training costs for the system are included with the implementation fees. Training consists of a mix of presentations and hands-on exercises that is delivered in person or via webinar and focuses on the features used by the individuals attending the training session. Technical support is available to clients online and via telephone or online meetings, if necessary. In general, GivingData does not provide technical support to applicants or grantees unless the client escalates an issue and asks the vendor to work directly with the applicant/grantee. The vendor reports that it is planning on launching new helpdesk functionality in 2020.

Stability in the Market

GivingData has been in use as a grants management system since 2016. The vendor reports that the software package has 42 active clients, with 40 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: 95.8 percent
Training Score: 0.90
Implementation Score: 0.89
Support Score: 0.77