The grant lifecycle is an all-encompassing process that needs to be properly managed in order for all parties involved to be successful. Consider the grant award to be a partnership between the funder and your organization. The steps of this partnership include completing a goal that is beneficial to the organization as well as the community it serves. Because nonprofits rely on grant funding, systems must be in place to properly manage and maintain that funding as part of the grant lifecycle. So, how do we manage grants?
What is Grant Management?
Per Omnistar (2022), grant management is the administrative work and process that goes into accessing and fulfilling the requirements of a grant. Grants provide organizations with funding to achieve the overall goal of supporting communities and various causes. An organization needs to be able to successfully manage and oversee grants and the responsibilities involved throughout the grant lifecycle. Applying for a grant requires that established criteria and guidelines be met throughout the entire process. More often than not, management is required for multiple grants simultaneously! So where do you start?
When should it begin?
You’re right! At the beginning. The organization should already have policies and procedures in place before starting the grant application. Internal grant policy(ies) are integral parts of implementing grants. At a minimum, they should include governance, risk management, systems, continuous program monitoring and evaluation, and financial management. Like Dr. Miranda Wojciechowski said (2023), “The grant proposal and its many components, such as the workplan, objectives, evaluation metrics, and budget, will serve as the blueprint for measuring post-award progress and set important perimeters for project completion.”
Why it’s So Important
Because there are so many moving parts throughout the grant life cycle, it’s critical that an organization has the systems in place so nothing gets overlooked. Each part of the grant lifecycle has multiple steps. As the grantmaker, you must undertake tasks like creating grant applications, grant announcements, distribution of funds, etc. whereas if you’re the grantee, you must apply for funding, manage the funds received and report outcomes regarding that same funding. There are frequently multiple awards and stakeholders involved, which requires being organized and using a fluid system that allows you to 1) effectively manage the grant lifecycle, and 2) ensure you are in compliance.
Three benefits of having a streamlined grant management process are:
1. Increased transparency for improved decision making – ensure past mistakes are recognized and adjustments are made to inform future actions and achieve a positive outcome.
2. Improved performance management – Determine delivery performance with feedback to stakeholders to make sure program goals are achieved.
3. Impact is the vision of change that grant makers are working towards through their investments – grantors can quantify the impact of money spent while proving a societal impact within a grant program (Omnistar, 2022).
Don’t Forget The People!
With proper grant management comes one of the key components: the people. The importance of communication is critical to the success of any relationship. When considering the grant management process, it’s essential that all teams, from programs, finance and development to HR and management, realize their efforts make a difference in whether the process succeeds or fails. Here are 5 tips to follow:
Try not to make last-minute requests that will stress out your colleague(s).
Conduct a quick quarterly grant check-in meeting or survey to check on deliverables and ensure everything is on track.
Provide training opportunities for team members involved in grant management. This ensures that everyone is knowledgeable about the grant process, compliance requirements, and reporting standards.
Encourage team members to build relationships. Network and collaborate outside of the grant project (if possible).
Establish a feedback loop where team members can provide input on processes, improvements, and challenges. This continuous feedback can lead to refinements in grant management practices.
Organization is key to being successful during the different stages of grant management. If not successful at managing grants, it could be seen that grant oversight isn’t a priority to current and potential grantmakers. A funder will not keep giving money if they don’t know that their funds are being properly managed. Benefits of a successful grant management program are influenced by core steps and the people involved to complete them. An effective and efficient grant management system will allow you to make better decisions and focus on what really matters – the communities you serve.
Omnistar. (2022, June 15). Why is Grant Management Important? Retrieved from https://www.omnistar.cloud/insights/why-is-grant-management-important
Wojciechowski, M. (2023, August 15). From Pursuit to Post-Award Compliance: Successful Project Design for Full Federal Grant Lifecycle. Retrieved from https://grantprofessionals.org/news/news.asp?id=648409