Best practices

Online grantmaking can improve quality of applications.

By Kathy Krais

[Publisher’s note: The Philanthropy Journal does not necessarily endorse the opinions, products or services offered or cited in this paid advertorial.]

[06.14.04] — The explosion in popularity and the widespread accessibility of the Internet has driven many grantmakers to create or increase their online presence.

But beyond the benefit of making information more accessible, significant efficiencies can be reaped, particularly when a shift to online practices is accompanied by training and assistance.

The San Antonio Area Foundation, a community foundation in Texas that supports the arts, humanities, education, historical preservation, health, environment and other charitable causes throughout San Antonio, Bexar County and the surrounding area, has made great strides with its new online program.

Using an online grantmaking system, the community foundation improved the efficiency of its application process and reduced the workload of staff members.

The fact that many foundations accept a large number of grant applications over a brief time period can pose a bottleneck for even the smoothest-running operation because there is an influx of administration that has to occur over a relatively short timeframe.

Moving to an online model enabled the San Antonio Area Foundation to more easily and quickly manage the flood of applications, letting its program staff focus their energy on decision-making without the looming tasks of tedious data-entry and weeding through hordes of ineligible applications.

“It takes only one-fifth of the time previously required to process an application online versus a hard copy application that we have to enter into the system manually,” says Lydia Rodriguez, program officer for discretionary funds.

In the first year of using the online system, the foundation was able to achieve a very high online submission rate, with over 300 of the total 362 applications successfully completed online

In addition to the design and technology, the San Antonio Foundation attributes its high acceptance rate to training and assistance.

The foundation conducted several training sessions with local area nonprofit organizations, and provided telephone assistance during the application-processing period.

“The ability to bring up an application while the applicant was working on it helped applicants put the right data in the right places, all the way through the process,” Lydia says.

In the end, the training and assistance saved precious time for the staff, who were reasonably assured of receiving a complete and accurate application.

In fact, the San Antonio Foundation expects that this year will be more successful than last, with an even higher number of complete and correct applications coming into the foundation.

Read the full story on the San Antonio Area Foundation’s best practices in online grantmaking at

See how other grantmakers are using MicroEdge Solutions to meet their needs, email us at

Kathy Krais is a freelance writer for MicroEdge.

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