From analogue to digital: How software is modernizing CSR
By Karen Fournier, Editor, Fundnews, Weekly digital news on grants funding for your organization
Today’s leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are seeking software solutions to bring their CSR programs into the digital era. They are asking for the digital solutions that have transformed other funding sectors, including government grants and private financing.
Government granting agencies and departments in Canada fund more than 4,500 distinct grant programs—for companies, charities and nonprofits, and other organizations. Over the past decade, the 2011 Jenkins Panel Report and 2012 Drummond Report found that Canada has a rich array of grants funding, but applicants have trouble finding and successfully applying to them.
These Reports called on governments to adopt “funding portals” to make their grant programs more transparent and accessible. Examples of organizations that have added applicant-facing digital tools to their sites include MaRS, Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI), Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), CNAM (Canadian Network of Asset Managers), and ITAC (Information Technology Association of Canada). All these tools are powered by the popular Canadian provider, Fundingportal.com.
Similarly, private financing providers have also migrated to the digital channel, through crowdfunding platforms, and online banking, lending, and angel investment portals.
These changes in how the public can source and secure funding have created a shift in expectations about how CSR programs should be communicated and managed. Analogue processes—phone calls, paper forms, envelopes—have all yielded to the Web. To respond to demand by CSR providers, at least one Canadian firm at the forefront of these changes has built a comparable solution for CSR. It is called Fundsuite CSR.
What should my company look for in a digital CSR solution?
Here are ten system requirements that a digital CSR solution should deliver:
Showcase all your CSR programs all in one place on the company’s website,
Enable prequalification of applicants for your programs to eliminate the need to assess non-compliant applications,
Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) applications to improve outcomes and efficiencies,
Generate management information and data analytics on your CSR program outcomes,
Address the needs of both applicants and administrators through a two-sided or mirrored platform,
Power digital translation or multilingual digital content for Canada’s diverse communities,
Ensure the highest levels of data security through secure servers and segregated storage systems,
Deliver accessibility to the visually and hearing-impaired,
Support mobile and desktop users, and
Seamlessly integrate with your other enterprise systems, including CRM (customer-relationship management, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and ECM (enterprise content management) systems.
To keep pace with today’s digital market, your organization might also want to join the trend toward Software as a Service or “SaaS”. The SaaS model ensures that your CSR platform is built, maintained and continuously updated by experts in digital CSR. It also suggests lower cost subscription fees with no software to licence, install, or update every few years. Further, SaaS systems tend to be highly customizable, and configurable by you. It can transform your CSR staff into “citizen developers”— able to configure your system with no IT training or support.
Fundnews is a free weekly digital news service on grants funding. It has more than 30,000 subscribers, overwhelmingly organizations seeking to understand Canada’s rich array of funding programs provided by federal provincial and municipal governments, corporations, foundation and other sources to support their organizations. Subscribe at fundingportal.com/blog/subscribe/
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