The team at Irving Harris Foundation had been using GIFTS since the early 1990s. “Back then, there were only two users, and since our grants were donor-advised there was no need for reviewers,” says June Matayoshi, Grants Manager.
When GIFTS was purchased by Vista Equity Partners however, things began to really change. “Suddenly our fees were going up for no real reason we could see, and they were pushing us to go with GIFTS Online. They were still building the system and we could already see that it wouldn’t be able to meet our needs.”
With a wide range of grants management systems now available in the market, June and her colleagues decided to look around for an alternative. “We were seeing more and more foundations going online and we wanted to keep up with the times. We had an increase in program staff and things were getting unwieldy and more difficult to track. Everything was everywhere, coming in on paper, by fax and email.”
The Foundation brought in a consultant to help them sift through all available options and bring forward the grants management systems they wanted their team to look at. “We considered Fluxx, but many didn’t like how it looked, and FoundationConnect was much too complex for our needs. We looked at GIFTS Online again, and it was just under par. The switch would have been unreasonably expensive too.”
The transition from a desktop and paper-based system to a completely automated, online platform took some time, and there were some challenges along the way. “We thought we’d just transfer our information to SmartSimple and go, but moving from paper to online takes a bit more work. Fortunately, the SmartSimple team found solutions for us to get the data we needed in the right format to eventually switch everything over to our new platform.”
While the transfer of data didn’t go as smoothly as they would have liked, SmartSimple’s post-implementation support won the Irving Harris team over. “The move from implementation to support was excellent. We were really made to feel like we were starting a new relationship rather than just another business contract.
Irving Harris Foundation’s Dedicated Support Representative helped them find efficiencies through their automated workflows, as well as getting them set up to use Signority, an online document signing platform and one of many that integrates with SmartSimple. “The ability to integrate directly with an online document signing program has been a massive benefit to our overall process. We used to have to print, scan, fax, and email every contract, so Signority has been one of the biggest process improvements for us.”
“Signority means I can manage year-end much more effectively because contracts are sent back to us so quickly. Our team has managed to cut overall contract processing in half, saving a significant amount of time. The automated reminders are a huge advantage - no more having to chase people down to get their signatures.”