Why Funders Should Embrace Change
I spoke with Keith Turkington, Managing Director of Fluent Technology, who shared his vision for the grant-making sector, and the importance of funders being open to change.
For the last 9 years, the team at Fluent Technology have been solely focused on making Flexi-Grant® the product leader in cloud-based grant management software. Over those years we have made some amazing progress, with Flexi-Grant® now being used by over 70 different grant giving organisations including some of the biggest funders in the UK and EU.
We have realised this by fostering a culture of continual improvement - having a genuine roadmap for the product, removing features so as not to bloat Flexi-Grant® with redundant functions, and delivering the best possible user experience for our clients.
Of course, Flexi-Grant® isn’t perfect, but the team at Fluent strive to make it better every day. For me, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. Our client base represents an extraordinary group of grant-makers who undertake vital work to improve our society, and our aim has always been to make a product which makes life easier for them, letting funders spend more time and resources on supporting the organisations and people they fund.
However, one perception that has become increasingly clear to me over the years is that having a good grant management system does not automatically make you a better grant-maker. I have had numerous conversations with different types of funders within the sector who have expressed an overall reluctance to change their grant-making processes and practices and do things differently.
The grant-giving sector has changed a huge amount over the last decade, and the charity sector in particular has been under intense scrutiny. As a result, many charitable funders have developed new strategies with ambitious impact-driven goals and visions, and because of this have overhauled the way they fundraise and communicate with their donors and supporters. Despite this, grant-making in these organisations has stayed mainly the same, almost as if the process of giving grants is somehow exempt from the organisation's strategic vision.
As a technology company, Fluent has always promoted and advocated aligning processes with organisational vision. I enjoy the challenge of discovering the minimum mandatory steps any process needs. However, the years of working in this sector have shown me that lean grant-making processes are not always the best ones, and rather than stripping everything back, there is a real need for experts who can refine and define processes that are right for funders in their particular space.
By opening Fluent Consultancy, the aim is to contribute to the development of best-practice in the grant-making sector through the appointment of experienced Grant Managers who understand the realities of working in fast-paced funding environments and can offer genuinely insightful advice and support to funders, whether they use software to manage their grant-making or not.
It's been amazing to see this idea develop over the last year, and I'm thrilled to have Alexander and Dominika on board to turn this vision into a reality. For a long time, I have articulated the need to emulate best practice wherever we find it, and it is exciting to see the Fluent Consultancy team starting to do just that across the grant-making sector.