A Century-Old Mission and a Modern Solution: How The Duke Endowment Streamlines Grantmaking
The Duke Endowment has awarded billions of dollars to nurture children, promote health, educate minds, and enrich spirits across the Carolinas. The Endowment’s team knew that, in order to make the biggest impact, it needed a grantmaking solution that tracks trends and outcomes seamlessly.
For nearly 100 years, The Duke Endowment has maintained the legacy of James Buchanan Duke, a visionary North Carolina philanthropist. With four focus areas in the Carolinas—healthcare, child care, higher education, and rural Methodist churches—The Duke Endowment has awarded over $3.7 billion.
“We are very tightly focused on Mr. Duke’s original mission that he set out for us,” explained Senior Accountant Natalie Smith, CPA. “We try to balance that mission with current trends in philanthropy.”
The Endowment began working with a paper grantmaking system but partnered with Blackbaud in the late ‘90s. In the past few years, the Endowment has committed to training grantmaking staff to use Blackbaud Grantmaking for all elements of their work, ensuring a single data source.
“We really like how it transformed our grants process,” Smith said. “(Blackbaud Grantmaking) made it a lot more streamlined and easier for us and our grantees to use, so it’s really been helpful to see that more of our staff are becoming engaged in the product.”
Telling a Story Through Data
Smith said she sees colleagues inputting notes in real time, documenting key data about grantees, and taking advantage of a mobile-optimized solution. She and her team recognize the importance of data-driven reporting and storytelling, a growing trend among large foundations.
“We really like to focus on how our funding helps our grantees achieve their work,” she said. “Tracking data from the grantee allows us to better tell their story. We want to use data to create a story of our grants and the work that they’re achieving.”
Because The Duke Endowment doesn’t accept donations, its community engagement focuses on outcome reporting rather than fundraising. Smith said that process relies on an efficient grantmaking tool managing the workflow from application to payment.
“The more we are able to streamline and make things automated, the more we are able to delve into trends, look at where things are heading and things that we need to address,” Smith said. “We’re excited about streamlining and using technology to allow our staff to be more analytical, rather than just managing data entry.”
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