The ACSM Foundation awards approximately $100,000 in research grants each year. The Foundation, affiliated with and developed to support the American College of Sports Medicine, hosts a number of research grants, endowments, and memorial funds

In 2017, the Foundation awarded over $140,000 to 23 student researchers and young investigators. Currently, there are at least 8 research grants and awards available for researchers through the foundation.

ACSM engaged Sputnik Moment’s help to launch their first online grantee and reviewer portal on the Salesforce platform.

The Challenges

For decades, ACSM operated without an online portal. Applications and supporting materials had to be mailed or emailed and review packets were manually compiled and distributed to each committee member. Managing all the data manually from various sources created room for error and significant inefficiencies when reviewing and verifying applicant eligibility.

As an example, certain grants offered by the Foundation required specific licenses that allowed the researcher to study animal or human subjects. Staff had to manually track these licenses and their expiration dates. To add to the difficulty, the licenses were often emailed separately by the applicant.

Sharing applications with the ACSM Research Review Committee (RRC) members was also labor intensive. All documents had to be printed or scanned, merged into one complete file, and then shared with each member – either via email or mailed out as a packet. Reviewers then submitted their responses via email and staff would manually compile that feedback into a spreadsheet to create mail merge documents.

The Solution

ACSM chose the Salesforce platform for its overall flexibility and  its prebuilt grant management system features.

When the foundation engaged Sputnik Moment, we began with a deep analysis of their current process to identify areas for improvement and automation. Based on this analysis, we developed a number of solutions.

For Example:
The team at Sputnik Moment designed list views to allow notes and ratings to be recorded directly into the system during review committee meetings, which eliminated the need for compiling excel spreadsheets. We also integrated a 3rd party application called conga composer, which allowed ACSM to fully automate the generation of the board book, decline letters and applicant award packets


One learning and advice to others is
to consider phasing the implementation project. In the case of ACSM, it significantly helped with the
transition and staff adoption.

What’s Next?
Looking ahead to the future, ACSM is excited to find new ways to leverage the Salesforce platform. In particular, there is strong interest in using the system to manage all grants. This would included not just the foundation’s research grants but also grants such as their education travel grants.

“Sputnik Moment worked with us to analyze our old processes so that we captured the essential components while making several needed enhancements along the way.“

Marie Lewis, ACSM Programs Coordinator

The Benefits

With the help of Sputnik Moment, ACSM has been able to benefit from a number of custom solutions

Applications can be submitted directly via an online grants portal. Grant seekers can keep track of their proposal status and the foundation can notify grant seekers more quickly if the application is missing information.

ACSM can enforce requirements before an applicant even submits their application. Applicants are also able to manage their own attachments via the portal, eliminating the need for staff to scan documents manually.

Review committee members can log into an online portal to submit their evaluations. They can now see all documents and review questions related to each application in one place.

This new system significantly reduced the preparation time required for committee meetings by eliminating the need to manually compile application packets and email or mail the printed packet

Administrators now have a wide range of ability to customize system elements.

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