Choices sometimes play a pivotal role in life. The decision made at that moment can majorly affect the path of your life. One such incident occurred with Geoff Hamilton, Founder, and CEO of ZoomGrants™, when he was contemplating pursuing a career in venture capital or philanthropy. He choose a philanthropic path realizing it would align with his personal desire to work in an environment that makes a difference. Back in 2002 most of the grantmaking processes were still on paper. As an innovative leader, Geoff had always enjoyed the innovative nature of technology and thus started to make an online tool for grant administrators. That decision was the birth of ZoomGrants™. The organization has transcended from an initial focus on private non-profits and has expanded to all kinds of government agencies and associations that have application management requirements.
Headquartered in Colorado, ZoomGrants™ is an online grant application management system. Their technology is utilized with three specific users of the online grant process, including applicants for proposal submission; funding committees, to review and recommend applicants; grant administrators who finalize decisions; and recipients who receive the funding.
The ease of use and the intuitive nature of ZoomGrants™ has been a real asset for its customers. Additionally, being one of the most moderately priced solutions has helped in the decision-making process for clients. Industry expertise with the team gives a decided advantage in serving the sector. Many of the ZoomGrants™ staff were former grant administrators. They understand the unique challenges in the application process, the reviewing stage, the award and distribution phase, and how important having all of that documentation in one place is in their job execution.
Incepted in 2002, ZoomGrants™ is a customer-centric company that focuses on clients’ unique needs and keeps new ideas in constant motion. The various team members at ZoomGrants™ interact with grant administrators with new applications those managers would like to see. Those ideas are then researched and discussed across its tech, support, and client relationship teams to flush out solutions that meet the clients’ needs. The product development actively involves creating an equal opportunity for participation from all teams.
The core of ZoomGrants™ is formed by a CSR belief system that has three pillars – People, Planet and Prosperity. The company takes special care of its people, from flexible hours to top-of-the-line benefits, to tremendous autonomy in allowing professionals to do their job. Many of the current staff were former customers and they saw first-hand the positive and encouraging environment ZoomGrants™ has formed for and with their people and wanted to be a part of that team-friendly workplace. The work/life balance for all the ZoomGrants™ team is a priority. “We work in an environment of helping causes and making a difference in lives every day. I know if the team is balancing their work and personal life positively, then we are truly meeting our most important objectives,” says Geoff.
Promoting Problem-solving culture
Today, the problem-solving abilities of any leader are highly appreciated by the colleagues and employees who look up to them. The problem-solving ability is also highlighted in the current time due to the challenges of the pandemic. Geoff is one such inspiring leader who has been a problem solver since the beginning of his career. Addressing his leadership style, Geoff asserts, “I don’t change my leadership style in any significant manner. I guess all leaders make adjustments and some don’t even recognize them, but I focus on consistency with my team. Whether we have highs or lows, I try and remain a voice in the company that is consistent with the values of the company. We seek to be ‘trusted advisors’ in the industry and it is critical that I lead with and for the team as a ‘trusted advisor’ within the company.”
To carry that similar problem-solving culture, Geoff makes sure that he hires problem solvers who come in with the right approach to their work even before they begin. The entire team has an abundance of creative problem-solving skills that they put on display every day. He says, “If you hire well from the start, and give them the freedom to perform up to their abilities, then you won’t need to shift your culture, certainly not by any dramatic measures.” He is often wonderfully surprised at some of the solutions his team comes up with for its clients. Nearly every meeting they have, which discusses client needs contains recommendations from the team that solves those needs, often with ideas that he never had in the first place. The company culture benefits greatly from having a great team that works very well together.
Tackling The Challenges
COVID-19 heavily impacted the world with the several businesses forced and to change their approache. One of the changes that we can see continued to be carried forward is the high involvement of remote working. At the time of the outbreak, all the staff at ZoomGrants™ were working in a virtual environment and never missed a beat in their daily execution, and more importantly the clients were able to manage their daily application management. ZoomGrants™ has been an online application management platform for nearly two decades and has seen a tremendous shift in the industry. Back in the early 2000s, people weren’t adopting this forward-thinking management practice as easily as today. COVID-19 has greatly accelerated all kinds of smart virtual processes. This has helped companies to easily shift towards remote working. “I am sure those organizations who weren’t managing their applications online were significantly delayed in collecting their applications, reviewing them, and distributing badly needed funding,” states Geoff.
The pandemic has positioned online application management as a critical means of addressing some immediate needs of society. ZoomGrants™ became a key component for collecting, reviewing, and distributing CARES Act funding and is positioned to do the same for the American Rescue Plan. ZoomGrants™ is always in a transformational mode. COVID-19 and the sheer volume of applications for assistance made an even better company ready to take on bigger and bigger projects. Before COVID-19 thinking about pandemics wasn’t likely on many people’s radar, however, what the ZoomGrants™ team and technology does every day served people at a great time of need and has positioned the company for an even greater impact in the future.
ZoomGrants™ was established on the strong foundation of great technology and extraordinary customer service. In the coming years, as technology continues to evolve, the team will adapt to the changes and continue its rapid rate of growth. Geoff anticipates that in the next 5 years there will be continuing trend of consolidation among the vendors which could result in fewer options being available in the marketplace. “For our part, we will continue to focus on our customer needs first and foremost, and continue to develop the best tools for the market,” he concludes.
Quote: “I don’t change my leadership style in any significant manner. I guess all leaders make adjustments and some they don’t even recognize them, but I focus on consistency with my team.”
Meet The Leader
Geoff Hamilton, Founder, and CEO of ZoomGrants received a Master of Business Administration from Colorado State University (CSU) and a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science from CSU. He was at a crossroads early in his career in deciding to focus on venture capital or philanthropy. He chose the latter because of the long-range benefits to society that focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Geoff has been a guest speaker at the Center of Priority Based Budgeting’s national conference, the National Community Development Association’s national conference, the National Association for County Community and Economic Development’s national conference, the Grant Professionals Association’s national conference, the National Criminal Justice Association’s national conference and numerous regional conferences across the country.