5 Benefits of Aligning Grant Management and Impact Measurement

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As the social sector continues to move toward greater evidence and transparency, grantmakers are increasingly placing impact measurement and collaboration at the center of their digital strategies. A strong grant management system (GMS) can no longer focus only on supporting the grant application, review, and disbursement processes, but must also provide a central source of strategic and operational intelligence. This intelligence is imperative to ensure that grant-based instruments are adequately contextualized and adaptable as programs evolve.

Learn how leading grantmakers, like the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment, are aligning impact measurement with their GMS to streamline grantmaking processes, drive data-informed decisions, and amplify their impact.

The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment: Integrating impact measurement and grant management with Salesforce and Amp Impact

Vera Solutions and g-company co-hosted a webinar in June this year, in which The Palladium Group, who manages the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE), shared its innovative approach and success factors in procuring, building, launching, and expanding an integrated grant management and impact measurement system. Drawing on their adoption of Vera Solutions’ Salesforce-based portfolio management and impact measurement solution, Amp Impact, the CFYE shared how their system has generated cross-functional collaboration to deliver more effective programs. 

Funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, steered by the Department of Sustainability and Economic Development, and managed by The Palladium Group, the CFYE aims to create a prosperous future for 200,000 young people (including at least 100,000 young women) in the Middle East and Africa, by supporting youth employment initiatives in these regions. The CFYE overcame the complex task of building a system that accommodated various global operating parameters with the goal of disbursing €150 million of grants across 23 countries. 

“From the get-go, we wanted to have a system that would allow us to set up and deliver a highly functioning, efficient, and effective program. We wanted a system to allow us to be really good at delivery and on top of our game.”

Deputy Team Leader for the CFYE from Palladium Consulting, Arqam Lodhi Tweet

Palladium Consulting implemented a Salesforce-based GMS, built on Amp Impact, to address the CFYE’s growing grant management and impact measurement needs. Some of their key guiding principles in selecting an impact measurement platform included the flexibility to operate in complex environments, cross-functional data access for various internal and external stakeholders, scalability, integration capabilities, and customizability. 

The solution has already provided tremendous benefits to the CFYE. Below are five benefits the CFYE have experienced in aligning grant management with impact measurement on Salesforce.

1. Increased Transparency for More Effective Decision Making

Grantmakers make countless operational and tactical decisions on a daily basis. It is therefore crucial to have a GMS that provides transparency across all levels of the organization this hinges on collecting the right data across the full grant lifecycle. 

The CFYE sought a system to manage hundreds of external grantees, or implementing partners (IPs). Amp Impact, extended with FormTitan, allowed the CFYE to streamline the grant lifecycle and further provide trend analytics via Salesforce Reports to share with the team and partners. 

“Our system enables us to go all the way through the [grant] start-up stage—we can connect the dots, such as what concept note was submitted and what kind of training the organization required."​

Additionally, the CFYE required role-dependent access to the data (principle of least privilege) to ensure that levels of data access were consistent with employees’ roles. 

“...that’s where the efficiency and creative thinking of g-company and Vera Solutions came in. They brought in another platform called FormTitan (enabled by Salesforce) that allows us to make sure that anyone and everyone that needs access to certain parameters of the database, can do just that, without requiring access to the full system."

By building a centralized system that promotes organizational transparency, the CFYE is able to holistically interact with its data, thus making more effective decisions to enhance their program efforts. The system also mitigates the risk of data silos keeping crucial information from reaching the correct individuals. Through one central system with various access levels, the CFYE, its grantees, and other external stakeholders can input data and review reports and dashboards to make further informed grant delivery decisions. 

2. Improved Performance Management

Grantmakers need solid understanding of grantee performance, not only to provide feedback to external stakeholders but to ensure that the program goals are achieved. The complexities were challenging for the CFYE with over 100 implementing partners across 23 countries — grantees stem from various sectors, each with their own strengths and delivery needs. The CFYE relies heavily on grantee-reported information to determine delivery performance, and the GMS provides an automated and customized process for the CFYE and its partners to meet reporting requirements.

“On the performance management front, every implementing partner, relationship manager, or project manager is able to track results and report dynamically and solely through the system."

Data Specialist Serge Ramadi, Palladium Consulting. Tweet

As CFYE IPs report into the GMS, data can be analyzed by partner and country as needed, with tailored and dynamic reports. The GMS accessibility has transcended geographical barriers, and the CFYE’s relationship managers and Netherlands-based senior management were able to easily digest information via Reports.

3. Centralized and Configurable Delivery Processes

Grantmakers often seek a GMS that can accommodate various, tailored delivery processes. System mapping is a crucial component of designing and building a new system. Amp Impact, leveraging the configurability of the Salesforce platform, provides grantmakers the opportunity to scale and adapt the GMS to meet evolving needs. 

“We broke down our complex ideas and complex processes into discrete and transparent units. We mapped out what should happen at every step of the way. That's the beauty of the system. As we were deploying the system, we were identifying bottlenecks within our thinking. The processes help design the system, and the system helps design the processes. A system like Amp Impact gives you a point for critical thought and reflection on your own ideas so that you really hone your delivery."

Data Specialist Serge Ramadi, Palladium Consulting. Tweet

A configurable GMS allows grantmakers to tailor the system to meet their business processes whether catering for additional grantees, reporting on additional metrics, simplifying the grant application process, or providing efficiencies for grantees and grantmakers. Ultimately, this facilitates shifting time spent from administrative tasks to grant program delivery. 

4. One Organizational Central Source of Truth

A GMS should be aligned to an organization’s existing IT ecosystem. One of the CFYE’s priorities was to integrate Amp Impact within the existing Palladium enterprise architecture, in order to serve as a single source of truth. 

“We operate within a pre-existing IT ecosystem and we cannot operate outside it. Initially, we thought this was an impediment."

Fortunately, with the robust APIs of the Salesforce platform, the CFYE successfully integrated Amp Impact within their existing architecture. In addition, Microsoft Outlook and Sharepoint are integrated with Salesforce to ensure that data and communication are connected and stored securely, logging Outlook emails to Salesforce and viewing Sharepoint-housed files in Salesforce. 

Additionally, grant and impact data is pushed to Microsoft Power BI, which enables Palladium to deliver right-time business intelligence to its users. Dynamic data analysis and visualization are achieved by pushing Salesforce-housed data to Power BI, displaying dashboards to internal and external stakeholders through the CFYE Microsoft Teams and SharePoint sites. Unifying existing systems provides a holistic and integrated data management and analysis experience. 

“It’s really powerful to integrate your project management system into a wider IT system."

An integrated GMS allows grantmakers the opportunity to extend analytics beyond the Salesforce platform and into robust BI tools, which is proving to be quite powerful.

5. Increased Collaboration

Data accessibility can influence key decision making. The CFYE built a GMS that not only provides team members data access, but  also encourages the use of data for new program delivery ideas and experimentation. 

“We do a quarterly review activity that is automated and happens on multiple levels within the organization - at project level, country-level with the relationship manager, and at a portfolio level. This review allows us to use the data and collaborate on areas for improvement."

The Salesforce-based GMS allows the CFYE to collaborate in real-time within the system. Additionally, direct communication with grantees often leads to new and innovative ways in which grantees can both more effectively engage with the system, as well as deliver their programs.

An agile system that adapts to changing project needs

Ultimately, Arqam Lodhi reflected on the main Amp Impact differentiating factor – agility.

“The way we deliver the [CFYE] project is constantly changing, but if you have the right platform and people, it becomes feasible to shift, and that's what Amp Impact lets us do. We are always adapting it and evolving it. From the first day of deployment, we have been able to change the way that it functions to meet our needs.”

The CFYE will continue to roll out its GMS to 23 countries over the next two years, weaving in-country program effectiveness into deployment decisions. The CFYE has paved the way in its approach to create meaningful youth engagement (see “How to Create Meaningful Youth Engagement”), and we are honored to continue to support their goal of helping create a prosperous future for 200,000 young men and women. 

We hear more and more funders shifting their key questions from ‘how much money have we spent?’ to ‘is our portfolio of grants driving the community change we aim to achieve?’. Centred around organizational impact, our solutions allow grantmakers to focus their efforts on program delivery and make more data-informed decisions that will lead to measurable impact within the social sector.

Zeenat Vallie

Zeenat Vallie

Zeenat Vallie (Digital Marketing Associate) has experience building online communities through content and digital marketing in South Africa and the United Kingdom. She served as a Social Media Account Manager for a leading digital marketing agency working on multiple brands across a range of industries, including health and wellness, B2B, B2C, education, travel, technology, and more. She also has experience as a Content Producer for one of the top media houses in South Africa and has worked in the local government sector. She holds a BSocSc with a triple major in English Literary Studies, Media and Writing, and Gender Studies from the University of Cape Town, and a formal certificate in Digital Marketing.

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