For the Tomberg Family Philanthropies, tracking the progress of grant lifecycles is the most important function of the foundation. However, they found that their review process was time consuming and ineffective. Staff members were often limited in their ability to communicate with one another as they relied solely on email to do so. Furthermore, the internal research that they conducted on applicants was messy. This is because they didn’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to capture all the appropriate information. Instead, they relied on jumbled word documents and excel spreadsheets that made consistency in their evaluation difficult. Tomberg found that, due to this inhibited workflow, they were unable to accommodate increased grant application traffic. “As the number of nonprofits we worked with grew, and as the volume of interactions increased, we found that things just slipped through the cracks,” said Gordon Landis, an Advisory Board Member of the Tomberg Family Philanthropies. They were, therefore, unable to impact as many nonprofits as they would have liked.
A larger part of this issue was how heavily The Tomberg Family Philanthropies relied on their databases to track the quality of their impact on past grant recipients. Due to nearly a decade of logging incomplete datasets, it had become nearly impossible to decipher the effect they had on their nonprofit community. While they understood that they needed to clean up their data, this was a task too large and too time consuming for a foundation that already struggled to award grants to all those applicants that proved their qualifications.