Salesforce's Outbound Funds Module as a Grants Management Solution

Salesforce added the Outbound Funds Module (OFM) to their suite in 2020, and North Peak was a part of the open-source project from its beginnings in 2017.

We heard questions from grantmakers about whether a flexible, open-source project would work for large or complex grant programs. To answer these questions, we set out to learn more about how foundations select, customize, and maintain their grant management/grantmaking systems (GMS).

Not familiar with Outbound Funds Modules (OFM)?

Read more about how it customizes Salesforce for Grants management

We interviewed a dozen foundations of all sizes, with GMS solutions ranging from totally custom-built Salesforce solutions to FoundationConnect to Blackbaud. Our goal was to find out whether a GMS built on Salesforce + OFM could meet any need, from the simple to the complex. In other words, what can Salesforce + OFM do to make foundations’ grantmaking process better? Here’s what we found out.

What We Learned


OFM is a sophisticated, flexible alternative to traditional GMS

Salesforce + OFM offers a powerful GMS solution for both simple and complex grantmaking needs.

The main strength of Salesforce + OFM lies in its flexibility. All of the GMS needs that foundations shared could be met with a tailored Salesforce + OFM solution (see the full report for more information on common integrations and customization). An OFM solution is particularly well-suited for organizations that have highly customized or frequently changing grantmaking processes, manage inbound and outbound funds, and/or need a CRM solution in addition to a GMS.

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Foundations with highly customized or frequently changing grantmaking processes.

While many out-of-the-box products are easy to set up, they can be inflexible and costly to modify. Ways foundations might need to tailor their systems include:

  • Re-labeling fields or adding additional fields
  • Creating and changing automation, such as processes to approve disbursement requests or email alerts based on activity in the system
  • Integrating best-in-class systems for accounting, digital engagement, or applicant, grantee, and reviewer platforms

Unlike many of its competitors, OFM supports the need for unique and changing processes with user-friendly customization options.

Foundations managing inbound revenue and outbound funds.

For foundations managing inbound and outbound funds in separate systems– like many Community Foundations– OFM offers an easier, more powerful one-system solution.

Putting all data in one place with OFM helps connect the dots between incoming and outgoing funds, reducing admin time and enabling foundations to tell the complete story about their impact.

Foundations that have or need a CRM solution and a GMS.

With Salesforce + OFM, foundations can have one integrated solution for all of their relationship management and grantmaking efforts.

Getting everyone on one system promotes collaboration across the board, and it empowers all staff with a complete picture of the entire organization’s efforts.

Foundations are wary of the cost and effort of Salesforce + OFM, but they’re already making large investments in off-the-shelf options.

For a foundation that’s used to an all-in-one solution, implementing and managing a platform-based GMS like Salesforce + OFM may seem overwhelming. But among foundations that need to customize off-the-shelf GMS solutions to accommodate unique business processes or integrations, most are already investing substantial time and funds to tailor systems. OFM offers a powerful, modular solution for just those kinds of organizations. With OFM, teams can build a GMS to their specifications, and evolve it over time.

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OFM is a free tool, but there are costs to implement:

  • Staff time spent learning and customizing the system
  • The cost of an implementation partner (if necessary)
  • The cost of systems integrated into the GMS

When planning an OFM project, it’s critical to know how complicated — and costly — it will be. A guide in our full report explains what to expect in terms of work involved and integrations to consider.

The best way to figure out costs is to do a deep dive into the team’s current state, GMS needs, and available in-house resources. While there’s no straightforward calculation for these projects, North Peak and other Salesforce implementation partners can help you build an informative estimate.

Peer vetting and vendor support are critical for decision making, and OFM is in the early adoption phase.

OFM is still a relatively new option in GMS solutions, so today’s users are early adopters.
Current peer vetting opportunities are largely concentrated in an active Salesforce online community, where OFM’s original creators, current Salesforce product team, and users share insights, questions, and best practices. Foundations can also work with Salesforce consulting partners for help with technology strategy, system implementation, and ongoing maintenance.

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Available technical support options for OFM users include:

  • Access to official Salesforce support, push updates, and documentation within the Power of Us Hub. Foundations can also contract for Salesforce premium support services.
  • Salesforce users can join the Outbound Funds Module Group in the Power of Us Hub. Members can learn about best practices in customizing OFM directly from OFM creators, see how peers are leveraging the solution, and access community-supported troubleshooting.

Is Salesforce + OFM the right solution for you?

Our findings show that Salesforce + OFM can be a powerful, flexible solution to even complex foundation’s grantmaking needs.
Reach out to our team to learn more about how an OFM-based GMS can support your goals!

Foundation Profiles

Assets ranged from $5 million to $10 billion

Six primarily accepted open applications + six foundations primarily accepted applications by invitation only

The number of grants made ranged from ~30-700 annually

Four raised funds for grantmaking; eight did not fundraise

Four foundations primarily made single-year grants, eight made both single- and multi-year grants or primarily multi-year grants

GMS in use: four foundations use Salesforce + FoundationConnect, two use custom-designed Salesforce systems, one uses Salesforce + Outbound Funds Module, four foundations used non-Salesforce GMS, and one was transitioning from a non-Salesforce GMS to a custom Salesforce solution

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