United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island invests in services and initiatives within the local community.

We worked with the United Way team to develop a Grant Management platform that encompasses all aspects of the granting cycle: application, assessment, award, and follow-up.

The Challenge

The United Way team had a number of requirements that were not easily accommodated in an off-the-shelf system including:

  • Eligibility screening (both automated and manual)
  • Letter of Intent submission and evaluation
  • Multiple granting streams, each with different eligibility, assessment questions, funding levels and scope
  • In-app Q&A tool for grantees to ask questions about their application
  • Customized evaluation and scoring process
  • Special reports tailored to United Way's own funders

Figure 1: System Overview

The complexity of a Grant Management system organized by module and by users (staff, applicants and assessments)

Figure 2: Mockup

We designed an application process that guides users in a step-by-step fashion. Each step includes guidance, examples and field validation to ensure questions are answered properly and completely.


United Way has received and evaluated dozens of grant applications and delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding.

The intuitive and friendly application process helps applicants prepare suitable applications without struggling or wasting time.

Assessors can rate applications and the overall scores are automatically calculated, streamlining what was a cumbersome process with spreadsheets.

Automated reports to government and stakeholders save weeks of staff time and minimize errors.

Our Process

1.- Workflow Mapping

The team at United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island were previously administering grants by cobbling together a variety of tools, including survey software and spreadsheets. Staff were over-burdened by manual tasks and were at risk of losing valuable organizational memory due to staff turnover. Thus, before embarking on the design and development, we held a series of working sessions to clarify and document their workflow.

2.- Prototyping

A prototype was developed with the modules that the United Way team needed most urgently: User registration, Grant Application, Post-Grant Follow-up and Reporting. They were able to start working with the app within days of development. By working alongside their team to use and test the prototype, we were able to identify potential issues early on and clarify their needs even further.

3.- Delivery and Continuous Refinement

Once we developed and tested the initial modules, and several users were already using them to apply for grants, we were able to apply the lessons learnt to successfully build and deliver the rest of the app.