Imagine Canada provides programs and resources to Canadian charities that are critical to ensuring sectoral growth, advocacy, and success. Grant Connect, a fundraising resource with a 50-year legacy with Imagine Canada is instrumental in that mandate, ensuring charities can find the funding they need.
Positioned originally as a funders’ guide and database, by working with Therefore Interactive, it has evolved to become so much more. Grant Connect is now a modern and scalable web-based solution for grantseeking and managing the fundraising pipeline.
Headless Drupal, React
UX research, UI/UX design, digital strategy, technical architecture, API development, MarTech and CRM integration, Drupal development, support & maintenance, training & documentation.
First launched as a print guide back in 1966 under the title “Guide to Foundations and similar grant-giving agencies”, Grant Connect has gone through several iterations. Over the years this has meant a cycle of different offerings and technologies as Imagine Canada worked to support the unique challenges of grantseeking and funder research through the decades.
Like most organizations, this meant a cycle of redevelopment & redesign every five to ten years, with massive investments in bespoke technology or off-the-shelf solutions, which eventually became dated, impossible to support, or failed to improve and evolve over time. The most recent iteration of Grant Connect (a custom built CMS) was over 5 years old and offered little room for new features or iteration.
Along the way, competitors had also emerged. Like every industry, disruptors come along, investing in user experience and innovation to solve old problems in new ways. Despite lacking in history and influence in the sector, these competitors gained ground through novel approaches and greater agility. While Imagine Canada’s investment in research and data accuracy provided a compelling value proposition, its inability to improve the existing customer experience inhibited new growth.
Approaching Therefore, Imagine Canada brought an opportunity to not just modernize the Grant Connect experience, but also to pivot— asking how a social enterprise product could work more like startup. How could Grant Connect, through iteration, feedback, and scalable technology, compete and hold their market position, while maintaining Imagine Canada’s sectoral impact into the coming decades?
Some key challenges and consideration for this project were:
~100K funder records with complex data structures
A history of funder gifts spanning decades and millions of records
Complex taxonomy structures (used to filter, organize, and search)
MsSQL data migration from a custom CMS platform
Grantseeking and fundraising involves in-depth research, financial and business analysis.
Charities across Canada are diverse and service a range of causes, and populations.
More than just research, Grant Connect supports the fundraising pipeline, from the identification of an opportunity to long-term funder stewardship.
By working with Therefore Interactive, Grant Connect has become a modern and scalable web-based solution, servicing grant seekers across Canada by managing their fundraising pipeline.
Taking a minimum viable product (MVP) approach to this project allowed us to deliver Grant Connect in a way that prioritized high-usage features and expansion features earlier and enabled us to onboard customers early in the development lifecycle to identify usability issues, missing high-importance features, and new opportunities.
In addition, by tearing the product down to its most critical functions, we ensured minimal ramp-up for new customers and smooth onboarding to the new interface for existing customers. The product can evolve through the progressive release of complex features. By listening to customers and analyzing their new behaviour patterns, the product will evolve and change to better meet customer needs.
Keeping true to our MVP approach, Grant Connect consists of only three primary screens. This tool offers customers a wealth of mission-critical data and ways to manage and work with that data to succeed as a charity grant-seeker or fundraiser.
Powerful Funding Opportunity Search Tool
Users start their journey by utilizing a powerful search tool to help identify opportunities based on both specific targets and by associated information.
Users can add potential funding opportunities into their Opportunity Pipeline for review and further qualification.
Simple Funding Opportunities Management
As opportunities are identified, they are qualified, cultivated and solicited over time. We built an easy to understand Kanban style board to manage opportunity maturity.
With the ability to add notes, request size, and to track program deadlines through a funnel, the pipeline provides grant seekers with a tool to not only identify opportunities but also manage and track the complete grantseeking workflow.
Detailed Funder Analysis and Research
Funder profiles are information-rich, providing all of the necessary data to identify a funding opportunity (qualify a program), determine a request size through gift history data, assess the requirements for application, and contact the funder.
Grant Connect is currently in Beta release, where Grant Connect users are providing valuable feedback. Soon a broader rollout will provide us with more insight and more data to drive the customer experience even further.
With a powerful decoupled architecture the possibility to support any and all future endpoints is available — whether it be a future application redesign or an expansion of the product, for example, to include native iOS and Android apps, or a progressive web app using React Native.