Blog Post

Life Before the Grants Tracking Database: Reflections of a Grants Manager


Today’s post was written by Nancy Nolan, Grants Manager at the Connecticut Health Foundation.

It will be 13 years this July since I joined the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health). I have worn all the “hats” over time from office manager to Health Leadership Fellows Coordinator. But the biggest change for me has been evolving the grant application process over time.

How times have changed from the days back in 1999 when our grant application form was the Common Report Form put out by the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy! What else has changed?

  • In 1999, CT Health allocated $190,590 in grants ranging from $2,500 to $50,000. At that time we didn’t have a database to track grants, but had a filing system with hard copies of the applications and all the correspondence related to the grant.
  • In 2000, funding supported issues around Children’s Mental Health and Oral Health with resources of $370,000. Still, not too difficult to keep a handle on a paper-based grant process.
  • But by 2001, we spread our wings into our third priority area, Racial and Ethnic Disparities, with overall funding of almost $1.6 million. We developed grant applications, reporting formats and a detailed grants procedural manual.
  • In 2002, the balance of the equity from the healthcare conversion from ConnectiCare was realized and we were now able to allocate funds in our priorities areas to many more applicants with worthy projects to support CT Health’s mission.
  • In 2002, we allocated $4.7 million in funding to 56 nonprofits in the state as compared to 19 grants in 2001. Now the time had come to seek out a grants tracking database. We did a lot of research at software packages available at that time. Not only were they extremely costly, but had so many bells and whistles that we didn’t need, we contracted with a technical consultant to design a database that would suit our needs. As our needs changed and we needed more reporting capabilities, our consultant updated the database to our specifications.

Over the past few years we have streamlined the process for submission of applications. The application process is on our website with instructions to submit a request for funding via email. So now we not only have the hardcopy file but a complete e-copy that includes the application, correspondence, reports and much more. The grants tracking database follows the grant through the life of the project and is a permanent record.

Since 1999, CT Health has allocated over $49.3 million in grants to nonprofits in Connecticut. I’m proud of the work of the foundation, and still find tremendous gratification from my work with the grantees I have met and worked with over the years.