Grant Information Tracker System

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2009


We worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build an internal grant expenditure tracking system. Enhanced ease of use and low-tech requirements helped grantees report their progress early and often. The system reduced the end-of-year burden for both grant managers and grantees, helping the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to better track grant performance.

The Client

Launched in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty globally.

Wireframe of Grant Information Tracking System

Wireframe of Grant Information Tracking System

Web-based system needed to track funding and expenditures

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation required a web-based Grant Information Tracking system that would allow grantees to submit expenditures and permit the Foundation to track where its grants funding was allocated and how that money was spent.

Simplifying data entry while supporting need for detailed reports

Grantee research showed they were worried about reporting incorrect data and therefore waited to be coached by grant managers. The result was that the Foundation received data only at year-end and had no reports on grant expenditures until then.

We developed an interface needed to support the needs of both the grantees and internal users. The system was designed to help grantees to quickly enter data whenever they wished. The system was designed to mimic popular personal money management software and be accessible to users who may be daunted by more formal accounting software. The system encourages frequent use and accumulates all entries to reduce year-end burden. To address the issue of incorrect expenditure categorization by grantee organizations, the Grant Information Tracker aimed to abstract the entry of data into the system while collecting data and metadata about the expenditures of grantees. Data was also added to the client's data warehouse to extract detailed reports about where, how and  what their money was being spent on.

The technical solution

The Grant Information Tracking system was integrated into an existing SharePoint deployment through the creation of a site collection. The site collection integrated with forms-based authentication for external users and active directory for internal users. Authentication was used not only for determining who had access but also what functionality a user had access to. Content for the system was stored within a Microsoft SQL server database with content being synchronized from a data warehouse. The site collection was comprised of custom ASPX pages. The custom pages were developed in Visual Studio 2008 and several standard web controls along with the creation of custom web controls.

An additional component of work involved intensive knowledge transfer to the Foundation, consisting of architecture, design, configuration, and deployment, including assumptions and trade-off decisions made during the development.

Technologies used

  • SharePoint CMS
  • ASP.NET Web Forms
  • Microsoft SQL Server