Beacon's grantmaking element allows you to receive applications for your open funding programmes, award and track grant payments, and receive evaluation reports from your grantees all in the one place.
The grantmaking element is made up of 4 core record types:
Grant programmes - Your funding initiatives that beneficiaries can apply to
Grant applications - Track and approve requests for funding
Grant payments - Schedule and report on the payments to your beneficiaries
Grant evaluations - Follow up with grantees to understand the success of your programmes
A grant programme is a round of funding that benefits a particular cause or segment of your beneficiaries. By grouping your grants under the programmes that drive them, you can track and report on the success of that specific programme.
Tip: Like Campaigns, if you have a recurring programme, add each 'instance' of the programme as a separate record so that you can track budgets and results for each time you run it. For example, instead of 1 record for the annual "Winter Relief" programme that you use every year, create "Winter Relief 2024", "Winter Relief 2025", etc.
You can store and see the top-level information about your programme here, including the key dates for applications and funding periods. There are a variety of record alerts that use this data to quickly see important information at the top of the record:
Feel free to customise and add fields to the Grant programmes record if there's more information you'd like to store!
Grant applications are the heart of grantmaking in Beacon. You can collect details from your applicants, assess it and move it through your approval pipeline, and define final awards and schedules. They are also the cornerstone for linking outgoing payments and evaluations to the recipient and programme that they're for.
Tip: You'll likely want to customise this record type by adding fields to store the information that you need to gather from your applicants, and the unique processes you use to assess and approve grants.
Add fields to the relevant cards, such as questions for applicants in the 'Application' card, information about your consideration of an application in the 'Assessment' card, etc.
Don't manually enter application information - have applicant information flow into your Beacon database automatically and seamlessly by using a Beacon form! Ask any questions you need, require answers to mandatory questions, and easily link or embed the form for easy access.
The type of form to use for your application is a 'Signup' form. This will be able to create both a Person record for who is applying, and the Grant application record for their submission.
Creating fields for new questions
To ask questions from your applicants, you'll first need fields for that information in your Beacon account. Many fields will already exist (such as their name, email, phone number, amount requested and reason for application) but there will be others that are unique to you and will need to be created first.
Before creating a new field, first decide where it should be stored. In this case it will either be on their People record or the Grant application. But how to know which one?
Is the information about them as a person, or wouldn't change, or you only ever want to know their current information?
Date of birth (it won't change at each application)
Address (you only need their current address to send correspondence)
Income (you only use it for real-time reporting or fundraising, not to assess their eligibility or for historical reporting)
↳ Create your field on the Person record
Is the information only relevant to their application, or you would want to know what it was at the point of application?
Age (it would be different at each application)
Address (you might be giving location-based grants and so where they lived at the time of application is important)
Income (if it's a criteria for determining their grant, you want to know what it was when they applied and not have it change on that application later)
↳ Create your field on the Grant application record
Tip: If in doubt, add the field to the Grant application record. It won't get overwritten by future applications, and can still be used in filters on your People list.
Once you have fields to store all the information you need, you can then add them as questions to your form!
Adding questions to your form
To add questions to your form, add a new 'General fields' section for the record type where your questions are stored (i.e. Person or Grant application (via Applicant)). You can add as many sections as you like to help split out your application and make it more user friendly.
If you're asking questions that are stored in fields on the Person record, you can alternatively add them to the existing 'Your details' section.
Often you many want to provide some extra information to your applicants, or give additional guidance about how to answer a particular question. To do this, you can add 'Label' text-only sections or items to your form.
Add a label section: Click the '+ Add section' button under your existing sections, then choose 'Label' as the type of section.
Add an label item: Click the '+ Add item' button on any existing section.
Word and character limits
For some of your text-based questions, you may want to limit the length of response so that applicants don't add too much text!
On any short text or long text fields that you've added to your form, simply toggle on the 'Set character/word limit?' option and you'll be able to adjust the maximum length of responses.
If you'd like all of your applicants to agree to terms and conditions, or make mandatory confirmations, you can add required checkboxes to your form that they will need to tick in order to submit the form.
Read more about submission agreements.
Each time an application is submitted, you'll likely want to set some data behind the scenes that is the same for every submission. This is called fixed data and, naturally, can be set in the 'Fixed data' section of your form.
The most common fixed data that you'd want to set on your application form would be:
Type = Grant applicant
Stage = New
Application date = Today
Programme = Grant programme this funding is for
Fund = Fund that the grant would draw from, if relevant
Do you have a multi-stage application process? See our section on managing multi-stage grant applications.
We've included a variety of standard criteria that you can use to score each application to quickly see which applications are best suited to receive funding.
Whilst these are common categories we've found useful for many organisations, we encourage you to change them to suit your processes and needs!
Change the name/criteria of a rating
Create additional scoring criteria
Edit the 'Total score' smart field to include those new fields
Change the scale of scores (e.g. out of 10 instead of 5)
Adjust the weighting of each rating so that some scores count more or less towards the total
Use non-scoring methods for assessment
Create new fields for your own assessment methods
Beacon's pipeline views are perfect for quickly seeing an overview of your applications, and for moving them from stage-to-stage. We recommend using 'Stage' as your pipeline field.
Once you've approved an application, it's time to schedule and pay the grant to the recipient. Grant payments in Beacon should be created for each payment that will go out to the grantee, and can then be tracked so you know who and what needs to be paid when.
There are some handy rollup and smart fields on the Grant application that will show you how much still needs to be scheduled to be paid by creating Grant payment records. Each time you add or amend a payment these fields will immediately recalculate!
The easiest way to schedule payments is to add them from the 'Scheduled payments' related record card on the Grant application.
Click the + button on the card then add the amount to be paid in that instalment, and the date it should be paid out. Leave the 'Paid?' checkbox unticked so that you know it's still awaiting payment.
Tip: If you're scheduling multiple payments at once for this award, use the 'Create and new' button. It will create the payment, and then reset ready for the next payment's details!
Finding payments to be made
If you have a daily payment run, you should create an easy-access view to show you just the payments that are due to go out today.
Filter your Grant payments for:
Date is Today
Paid? is not checked
Click 'Save view', and give your view a name
To access this list in future, just select it from your views dropdown in the top left when viewing the Grant payments list.
Exporting payments to be paid
If you'd like to export the payment list for your finance team to process, you can create an export template that makes it quick and easy to get just the relevant data out.
Step 1 - Create export template
Head to Export data > Manage templates in your sidebar
Click 'Create template'
Give your export a name, and choose 'Grant payments' as the record type
Choose whether you'd like the export to be a spreadsheet (CSV) or PDF file in the 'File format' dropdown
Choose which columns you'd like in your export. We'd recommend:
Select 'Dynamic' as the filter type
Save your template
Step 2 - Run the export
Head to the daily payments view that you created above for your Grant payments list
Select all the records
Click the action button and choose 'Export grant payments'
Choose your template, and click 'Start export'
Step 3 - Update the payments to mark them as paid
With the payments still selected, click the action button and choose 'Update grant payments'
Choose the 'Paid?' field and check the box
Once you've granted and paid money to a grantee, chances are that you'll want to get some insight into the impact and results of your award. Grant evaluations are where you can collect and track those reports.
To ask questions of your recipients, you'll first need fields for that information in your Beacon account. We've given you a few example field types to start you off, but you'll want to customise these, and add any new fields for data and questions you'd like your grantees to complete.
To collect evaluations from your grantees through Beacon's forms, you can either use the Portal if you have it, or otherwise our signup forms.
Collecting evaluations with the Portal
If you have the Portal element, you can schedule evaluations for your grantees and have them log into the Portal to complete them (or have them create and submit their own evaluations), keeping all your data clean and tidy.
Accessing via the Portal
To create a grantee portal, follow the main steps in our Portal guide.
To allow people to complete their evaluations, you'll want to include a 'Related records' section for the Grant evaluations record type.
You can either create and schedule the Grant evaluation records in advance for your grantees to then complete, or you can allow grantees to create their own evaluation records. If you'd like them to create their own, toggle on the 'creating records' toggle on that section:
If you'd like to schedule evaluations for your grantees, the easiest way is to add them from the 'Evaluations' related record card on the Grant application. You can schedule all evaluations that will be required at once, or you can periodically add them as needed.
Once they've been scheduled, they would show up in the grant evaluations section of your portal that you created above.
Tip: If you'd like your portal to only show unsubmitted/unfinished evaluations, you can add filters to the 'Visibility filters' setting of that section.
For example, you could add filters to only show evaluations that have at least one blank question:
Question 1 is blank
Question 2 is blank
Question 3 is blank, etc.
You'd include a filter for each question in your evaluation that needs an answer (i.e. if they all had values it would be considered 'complete').
Collecting evaluations with signup forms
Just like your grant applications, you can use a signup form to allow grantees to submit their evaluations directly into your Beacon account!
Create a signup form, and add a new 'General fields' section, for the 'Grant evaluation' record type. Add any fields from your Grant evaluation records as questions on the form.
You'll likely want to include some information in the fixed data section of your form, to correctly categorise the data coming in to your account. For example:
Date completed = Today
Stage = Pending review
Note: When the form is submitted, the new Grant evaluations record will be linked to the 'Grantee', but it won't be linked to the specific application that it's for. Simply search in the 'Application' field to find and link it to the correct Grant application that it relates to.