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Digital charity – Clearinghouse for data

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By Todd Cohen

Tom Ross, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem, wants to put technology to work to help streamline the business of grantwriting and grantmaking.

Ross hopes to let grantseekers submit applications electronically to the foundation, which typically receives about 800 requests a year.

Those applications consume a lot of time and paperwork for grantseekers and for the foundation’s staff and board.

Ross, who still is developing his electronic idea, is considering several options, including online and email filing of applications, which then could be transferred to compact discs for review by staff and board.

He also has begun talking with other foundations in the state about creating a common Web site on which nonprofits could post basic financial, program and organizational information they typically are required to include with grant applications to all foundations.

While grantseekers still would complete separate application forms geared to each foundation’s respective grant program, Ross says, the common site could serve as a statewide source of basic information that grantseekers no longer would need to include on foundation application forms.

The Web site and its database could be maintained by an independent group funded by participating foundations, and grantseekers without access to the Web could submit their background data to that independent group.

“It’s a way to streamline not only our own operation but also to build capacity in the nonprofit community,” Ross says.

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