Edit: This proposal has been removed from consideration because the funding request is too large. Ideas for alternate funding sources are welcome.
This is a proposal to create an intuitive, open-sourced grant-making system using the Drupal Content Management system, to facilitate an open source alternative for essential needs of non-profit organizations and foundations.
There is a real need for an open source solution for the grant-making process. The benefits include cost savings, better accessibility, and a lowering of barriers to smaller grant applicants, as well as to the larger grant seekers.
The savings realized from using a robust and effective grant-making software will be translated into a better utilization of grant monies, many times over. pingVision proposes to create an open source solution based on Drupal.
The result of this project will be a module package that: enables custom development of application forms; provides management tools for the review, evaluation and general administration of grant applicants, grantees, panelists, and Grant-makers; and facilitates custom theme development.
This module package introduces to non-profit organizations worldwide a powerful, customizable, extensible alternative to the expensive commercial grant-making systems that dominate this market.
The non-profit community is broken up into two main classes of organizations: those who give grants and those who apply for grants. Often, an organization will do both—re-granting funds received from one agency to provide to other organizations. A good example of this is represented by the block grants given by the National Endowment for the Arts to State Arts Agencies like the Colorado Council on the Arts.
Traditionally, grant making has been practiced in an analog/paper-based manner. Grant forms are printed and the grantee applies for the grant by typing on the form. More recently, fill-able PDFs have allowed applicants to fill out forms on computer. However, filling out the form is only the very first part of the grant-making process. In short the full grant-making process includes the following steps:
- Solicitation by the Grant-maker for applications.
- Prospects filling out the application and submitting along with whatever supporting materials are required by the Grant-maker.
- Review of each application by a Grant Manager to ensure that the applicant has followed the grant guidelines (the rules for applying for the grant).
- Rejection of those applications that have not followed the guidelines and acceptance of applications that qualify.
- Creation of panel-books (an aggregation of all applications that qualify) that are given to Panelists (individuals who review and score each application).
- Panelists review each application and take notes.
- Panelists meet to discuss and score each application.
- Applications that have the highest scores move onto the Grant-maker’s Board of Directors who formally accept those applications who qualify and have been recommended by the panel.
- The grant applicant is notified of the application acceptance and is provided a contract or agreement that they must accept.
- Monies are disbursed based on the Grant-maker’s policy. Often monies are provided at the end of a project. In some cases monies are provided half way through a project’s completion. In some cases, monies are provided up front.
- It is common for a Grant-maker to require an interim report (a report provided by the grantee to show progress).
- Finally, a grantee will normally have to provide a final report that shows the success (or not) of a project that has been funded.
This process can be complicated. Many Grant-makers have kludged together management solutions that include use of Microsoft Access or Excel along with a paper-based mechanism to track and report on grantees within the system. The drawback is that the systems are largely manual, primitive, and thus cumbersome.
The only fully or largely electronic/web-based systems that are available to non-profits are proprietary systems. The drawback is that proprietary systems can be expensive and usually are not as flexible as open source solutions. Moreover, mostly, they require annual licensing fees whose costs can mount up quickly. These systems include, but are not limited to:
- CultureGrants Online
Few options exist for smaller, low-funded organizations or for those who have embraced open source and wish to make use of ready-made open source solutions. Although recently CiviCRM has offered a partial solution; its feature set is light for Grant-makers especially for those that have significant volume of grants or who need advanced methodologies for managing the process.
These rather costly proprietary packages are out of reach of many grant-makers.
- To create an easy-to-use, state of the art, open-source grant-making system using the Drupal Content Management system.
- To allow for custom development of application forms.
- To allow for custom theme development.
- To provide management tools for grant applicants, grantees, panelists, and Grant-makers.
- Rich permissioning including:
- Admin Assistant
- Grant Applicant
- Application Started
- Application Under Pre-Review
- Application Filed
- Application Under Admin Review
- Application Does not Meet Requirements
- Application Recommended for Panel Review
- Application Recommended for Funding
- Grantee Funded
- Grantee Filed Interim Report
- Grantee Filed Final Report
- Grant Closed
- Payment Requested
- Payment Paid
- Partial Payment Requested
- Partial Payment Paid
- Grants Available
- Grants Applied for
- Status of application
- Grants Funded
- Agreements to be signed
- Reports available for filing
- Status of Grants
- Deadline Passed
- Panel in Review
- Grant Funded
- CSV exports of selected data
- List of applications by any combination of statuses
- Panel Book Report (PDF)
- Other Reports TBD?
- Create Panelist
- Create Manager
- Create Assistant (PDF)
- Others TBD?
- Create Grant
- Is this Grant for People or Organizations?
- Open Text Question
- Select Box
- Radio Buttons
- One Column
- Three Column
- Open Ended
- Pages/Books specific for the grant guidelines of a specific grant
- Create Panel
- Easy development of panel list/program to be reviewed
- Selection of panelists
- Selection of scoring range(s) on multiple criteria
- List of Funded Grants per Grant Program
- List of Grants with submitted Interim Reports
- List of Grants with submitted Final Reports
- Panelist Panel
- Grants Programs that have been assigned for review
- Grant Applicants that have been assigned to a given panelist
- Primary or Secondary reader on assigned applications
- Grant Panel Scoring Sheet for each Program assigned to panelist
- Access to Panel Book (PDF)
- Comment Form to each application
- A well code-commented Drupal 6 module package incorporating Drupal best practices, including:
- Module and includes files
- Template files
- CSS files
- GPL-licensed icon files
- readme.txt (basics on templating, what module does what)
- Required files (.info)
1) Panelbooks and Board Books
Application PDFs will be broken into two main different use strategies.
- Full length PDF of all applications for printing or reading on screen. These can be used by panelists or by board members for board review following a panel process and can be generated at anytime
- Single application PDFs for use with score cards, giving an applicant pre-submittal feedback, and for an applicant's own paper records
As mentioned in the comments above, there are many instances where paper will be desired by various parties in the application process. While it is possible to heavily reduce the reliance on paper, it can't be eliminated.
Reporting needs for different organizations can be quite different. The system will allow for flexibility of reporting by allowing csv exports of different data sets. For example, by choosing the following:
- Org Name
- Org Address
- Status -- Grantee funded
One could make a mail merge for all those who need to recieve an acceptance letter.
During development, pingVision will consult with grant making agencies to determine a series of preset reports.
3) Agency Communication
Agencies will be able to communicate with the applicant in several ways.
- Through mail mail merge using csv export
- Directly through messaging sent through the system to an applicant's designated email address(es)
- Through messaging on the Applicant Control Panel
The applicant control panel will be used, if desired, as a mechanism to deliver:
- Program Announcements
- Applicant specific communications and alerts
This project will be, primarily, focused towards those who need a tool to manage the grants process rather than converting those who already have a tool. It can (is) extraordinarily difficult to convert from one tool (like GIFTS, or Pearl/eGrants) to another tool without significant resources being expended in data export and import. However, pingVision will be available to aid in export/import activities.
pingVision plans to support the module and provide consulting services around the grantmaking sphere.
Knight Drupal Initiative Goals
Increasingly grant-making agencies are looking to Drupal for content management of the organization’s corporate site. Typically these implementation are simply brochure ware sites with, perhaps, a blogging or forum component being used. Drupal could, and would, be used more extensively if there were additional tools that were:
- easy to use
- easy to implement
- provided desired functionality
Grant making clearly falls under this umbrella. This project provides the community Grant-Maker with an alternative to other systems designed in the proprietary realm. Providing tools that any grant maker has the option to download and tailor to that company’s needs serves the grant maker and the grant applicant by reducing cost, increasing access, simplifying process, and reducing organization overhead.
Grant making, at its very core, encourages the free exchange of information. Providing grant makers with tools is an enabler of that exchange.
The project is estimated to take 2000 hours or approximately 52 man weeks. From initial architecture through release 6.x--1.0, we estimate that it will take us between 6 and 8 months.
The project will be implemented by pingVision's staff.
- Development of Full Specification/Requirements Document
- Identification of user roles
- Identification of features
- Specification of user experience requirements for each user role re each feature
The code will be distributed primarily through Drupal.org. Other distribution points focused on the non-profit community, such as grantsystem.org, may be offered as mirrors.
Issues and patches will be managed through Drupal CVS and Drupal.org project.
Marketing will occur through:
- Attending Conferences
- Contact Lists
- Word of Mouth
Planning, Implementation, and Deployment is estimated at $300,000. Two people attending two conferences including hotel, airfare, and a conference table is estimated at $6,900. Attendance will include, The American Association of Grant Professionals annual conference and one other conference TBD.
We request support of $306,900.