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The Christensen Fund Finds Grants Management Software To Grow As The Funder Grows

This is a guest post from Aaron Lester, Demand Generation Manager at Fluxx

The Christensen Fund was started in 2004 to help promote biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. Through place-based work, impact investing and funding, the Christensen Fund supports international efforts to recover global diversity and locally-recognized community custodians of heritage.

The Fund works primarily through grantmaking by awarding $15 million a year to people and institutions who believe in a biodiverse world. By early 2013, the Christensen Fund realized it needed a more flexible and forward thinking grants management solution for their large grant program. The foundation knew there was a smarter, more efficient way to award its grants. It was time for a change.

“A lot of the products we were looking at, including Cyber Grants, felt old and rigid. They seemed to be trying to shoehorn new technology into an old outdated structure,” says Brian Burgin, a grants manager at the Fund who specializes in processes and systems at the foundation. Christiansen was searching for a “more dynamic” grants management software solution.

BY GRANTMAKERS FOR GRANTMAKERS

The San Francisco-based foundation focused its efforts in regions chosen for their potential to withstand and recover from the global erosion of diversity. Most of the foundation’s program officers are located in these regions, including the African Rift Valley, Northwestern Mexico, Melanesia, and Central Asia. These far-flung grantmakers needed a system that understood grantmaking from the ground up. Burgin discovered Fluxx, and was attracted to the platform because it “was designed by grantmakers for grantmakers.”

BETTER VISIBILITY, MORE STREAMLINED PROCESSES

The Christensen Fund went live with Fluxx in August 2014. Since then, Fluxx’s configurable dashboards and intuitive interface has allowed the foundation to cut down on extraneous ­– and, at times, cumbersome – processes to streamline their workflows. “Communications with grantees prior to Fluxx was done largely through email,” Burgin says. “Proposals, reports, and the like would come in and have to be manually added to the record.”

Christensen also realized new visibility into their work. “Fluxx makes it far easier for our staff to track where records are in any given process and to readily see which records are ready for their action without extraneous communication.” Previously, its staff needed to email back and forth about the status of a request, grant, or report.

“Now we can see what’s on our plate at any given time,” Burgin says. “Our processes can become complex. The intuitive dashboards are extremely helpful in helping us see where we are in the grants process at all times.”

A PLATFORM TO GROW WITH US

A year after implementation, Christensen is still finding great way that Fluxx’s full suite of features benefit the Fund. The software has the ability to grow with the foundation as its processes evolve. “It’s going to be the driver of helping us do things a lot more efficiently in the future,” Burgin says. For example, Bugin is particularly interested in exploring more reporting capabilities. “The way we are preparing reports for the IRS and for our Board right now is quite tedious. Specifically, I want to create something that creates exactly what we need for 990 IRS reports.”

Burgin continues: “Our Directors are also keen on being able to view at a glance the status of where we are in grantmaking at any point in the year to ensure that we are on track to meet our goals. December was really hectic because we had to push a lot out before the end of the year, and they want to be able to see that coming and try to prevent it.” Additionally Burgin looking forward to using Fluxx’s new Microsoft Word Plug-in and the DocuSign integration. The foundation also wants to set up a process and workflow to handle grant amendments, which now causes undue amounts of manual work for Christensen.

With ambitious goals for the future, Christensen is secure in the knowledge that they have the tools in place to go where they want to go. It’s great peace of mind for any grantmaker who does not relish the chance to live through multiple technology implementations as a matter of course.

Aaron Lester

Aaron Lester

About Aaron Lester:

Aaron is the writer and demand generation manager at Fluxx.

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