The Heckscher Foundation for Children is a private, NYC-based philanthropic foundation with a mission to level the playing field for underserved youth. The Foundation achieves this through “inflection point” funding within a venture philanthropy framework. In addition to a commitment to address many of the obstacles that keep underserved youth from realizing their full potential, Heckscher also funds innovative programs, partnerships, and solutions that are focused on positive, long-term outcomes.
Project Challenge: Planning the Move from foundationConnect to a New
Grant Management System
Recently, North Peak Solutions guided The Heckscher Foundation for Children through the transition from foundationConnect to Outbound Funds Module (OFM) for grant management. Although the main impetus was the retirement of the foundationConnect application, Heckscher also wanted to improve their grant management system (GMS) with a better grantee portal, provide more streamlined and efficient workflows for staff, and a smoother, pain-free upgrade process for new releases.
We also took a deep look at their system to see how much of foundationConnect was actually being used, and what customizations were already in place. The results of the Discovery provided a foundation that we used to prioritize and design a system to meet Heckscher’s needs.
Solution: Customizing Outbound Funds Module to Meet Hecksher’s Needs
During the Discovery we learned that one of the biggest challenges Heckscher faced was the frequent disruption that foundationConnect updates caused for staff. These disruptions caused unexpected functionality issues that staff often did not have the expertise to troubleshoot. The disrupted workflows negatively impacted staff ability to do their grantmaking work, and sometimes required the expertise of an outside consultant to fix. To address this pain point we designed a system that would not be disrupted by regular updates, and was simple enough that staff could troubleshoot and fix issues if they arose. We chose Outbound Funds Module with customization because it provided a stable basis on which to build out the unique and specific needs of the Heckscher Foundation.
We also learned that Heckscher’s program officers wanted an efficient way to review activities and goals across a grantee’s application, interim and final reports. Their current system had automation to move responses between those records in the system, but it was not working consistently. This meant that staff had to use their limited time to copy and paste past responses in order to move to the next step in a grantee application. Our solution to this problem was to replace the manual band-aid developed by staff with a native screen flow. The flow displays the past application responses in a grid format so that the information is readily available and organized.
Result: A Flexible Grant Management System that Streamlines Tasks and Improves Workflows
Transitioning from foundationConnect to Outbound Funds Module took around 5 months to complete. Although it’s too soon to see all the positive results of the implementation, Heckscher is now able to provide an aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate portal for their grant applicants and recipients. Issues with system updates have been addressed, and previously manual tasks performed by staff are now automated through a native custom screenflow.
Special thanks to Ashley Dunn and the team at Heckscher for their help on this case study, and their willingness to embrace change by moving to OFM for grants management!
North Peak Solutions has helped many organizations successfully make the transition from foundationConnect to Outbound Funds Module got Grant Management. Read How to Prepare for the Transition from foundationConnect, to learn more.