Accountability is essential to successful grant management. To truly maximize your funding, you can’t view accountability as just a buzzword. Instead, you need to view it as a series of tangible tasks to improve your grant outcomes.

As a leading provider of grant management solutions for Grant Seekers and Grant Makers, we know that accountability isn’t something you can achieve with just the push of a button. And to maximize your outcomes to the fullest extent, you need to ensure your organization’s processes are effective and efficient.

We’ve compiled measures for both Grant Seekers and Grant Makers on maximizing accountability during each significant stage of the grant lifecycle.

 

Content

 

Chapter 1: Grant Seeker

Chapter 2: Grant Maker

 
New call-to-action
 

 

Chapter 1: Grant Seeker

 

Awarding agencies have more power now than ever to both determine and cease funding based on recipient performance. Therefore, it is crucial that Grant Seekers understand how to maintain accountability to retain the current funding that supports the goals of their organization and win additional funding in the future.

Pre-Award

While you may be eager to try to amass as much funding as possible, taking the time to put in place accountability measures before applying for funding will increase your likelihood of winning awards and will save your team time in the long run.

Accountability Measures:

1. Maintain thorough and accessible application records

Having a standard process in place for tracking the grants you apply to holds both your team members and your organization as a whole accountable for the success of your grant portfolio.

Maintaining these application records ensures your team members will not apply to competing, or the same, funding opportunities as their colleagues.

And it’s not just daily accountability that will benefit from these records. These records also have a long-term impact. By tracking grants applied to and maintaining records over your wins and losses, you can better evaluate which objectives your organization is capable of meeting and more strategically apply for funding in the future.

2. Implement a grant management system that is accountability-focused

Using outdated processes such as relying on paper files and allowing team members to operate in disparate folders and files results in inconsistency and miscommunication, foiling accountability. That’s why, as Grant Accountability Project’s “Guide to Opportunities for Improving Grant Accountability” states,

“It is essential that adequate internal control systems (such as information systems, training, and current policies) be in place.” 

Keep in mind that implementing systems like Grant Management Software (GMS) requires somewhat of a time investment for your team when properly configuring it to help you meet your organizational goals. Therefore, it is best to have your system in place prior to competing for important funds. This will allow you not to promise accountability to potential funders, it will also enable your team to focus entirely on effectively managing the funds after winning the award.

3. Invest in training at all levels

The Grant Accountability Project’s “Guide to Opportunities for Improving Grant Accountability” highlights the importance of training when improving your grant accountability.

“Agency staff and grantees need sufficient training so that they can understand the numerous regulations, policies, and procedures governing grant funds. Audit reports have found that deficiencies in grant oversight are not due to a lack of policies, but rather that existing policies are not being followed.”

So before winning funds, bolster individual accountability by training your staff and those involved with grant management in everything from regulations to proper GMS usage to your internal grant guidelines.

AmpliFact: Win Metrics Automation

With AmpliFund, you can automate win metrics tracking through the system. By automating this work rather than relying on manual tracking, you reduce the risk of human error, and you have a more accurate record to evaluate.

Award Management

Here’s where you ensure the accountability measures you planned for in pre-award are infused in daily tasks to maximize outcomes.

Accountability Measures:

1. Compare expenditures to projections

Spend is one of the key measures of accountability.

One of the best ways to reflect accountability in your spending is to compare your expenditures to projections. According to the Journal of the Grant Professionals Association’s “The New Age of Accountability: Linking Activities to Outcomes and Cost,”

“Systems need to show a comparison of actual expenditures vs. budget projections. This level of detailed accountability is meant to ensure grantees do not overspend. The ability to monitor in this way helps in program management, specifically ensuring that funds are expended within the confines of the pre-determined grant period.”

2. Use your system to audit your performance consistently

If you have a standard system in place for managing your grants, use this software to audit your performance frequently.

Regularly evaluating your progress keeps your team accountable, allows you to make adjustments when need be to improve accountability, and demonstrates accountability to your funder(s).

3. Keep your grant information safely accessible to all integral parties

When managing grants, transparency and accountability often go hand-in-hand. The more knowledge each person has on others’ work, the better they can understand how the grant tasks they are tackling contribute to your organization’s accountability.

When managing your funding, ask yourself, is your grant information readily accessible to all appropriate parties, and only appropriate parties? If you are experiencing issues with inaccuracies or miscommunication, this could be the cause.

AmpliFact: Automatic Tracking Notifications

As you now know, regular internal evaluations of grant usage are key to accountability.

Take your accountability one step further with AmpliFund by setting up automatic tracking notifications through the system. You no longer need to remember to evaluate your progress because your software will automatically do it for you.

Closeout

An end of a grant cycle is the beginning of increased future accountability!

Accountability Measures:

1. Shift reporting from compliance-centric to performance-centric outcomes

In the past, when the lifecycle of a grant was nearing the end, you likely compiled reports that demonstrated your organization’s ability to maintain compliance. However, compliance reports are no longer enough to demonstrate success and secure future funding. According to the Journal of the Grant Professionals Association’s “The New Age of Accountability: Linking Activities to Outcomes and Cost,”

“Federal regulations stipulate that grantees must relate cost to performance. New standardized reporting formats issued by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) require grantees to show accountability in this area.”

2. Personalize the reports you create for your stakeholders

Since each award’s objectives and goals are different, you need the ability to create personalized reports.

Assess what metrics will best reflect your performance of the grant at-hand and build a report around those. Your GMS should have not only pre-built reports that capture commonly requested grant metrics, but it may also give you the ability to build custom reports or have reports custom-built for your organization.

3. Evaluate your outcomes and adapt your processes

Lastly, and most importantly, remember that your organization should always strive for accountability – this shouldn’t stop after a grant has closed.  Evaluate outcomes through the lens of accountability and, based on your observations, use this opportunity to adjust your processes and reconfigure your system to continue maximizing your grant accountability.

AmpliFact: Access to Historical Documents

AmpliFund retains all of your grant records, allowing you to easily and accurately compare your originally submitted performance plans to your final outcome reports. By housing these documents all in one system, you can better pinpoint in which areas you can improve accountability.

 

Chapter 2: Grant Maker

 

Contrary to popular belief, grant accountability doesn’t begin and end with how a recipient manages the funds they receive. By allocating funds, you have taken on the responsibility of overseeing the grant-related decisions your recipients are making and the activities they are carrying out. Luckily, there are a number of processes and procedures you can implement that will allow you to best enforce and monitor accountability.

Pre-Award

As a Grant Maker, the objectives you define for the funding you are awarding and the processes you have in place for evaluating applications for this funding set the precedent of accountability.

Accountability Measures:

1. Establish a set of standards for applications

Requesting the right information from applicants is crucial for an accountability-centric evaluation process.

The Grant Accountability Project’s “Guide to Opportunities for Improving Grant Accountability” explains specifically how you can and why you should create accountability-focused applications for funding.

“Competition promotes fairness and openness in the selection of grantees. Evaluation criteria, including having sufficient resources and sound management practices, can help an agency focus its review on factors indicative of success. An established set of rules and standards for competition generates equitable judgment as to grant applicants’ ability to fulfill grant requirements.”

2. Implement a grant management system that is accountability-focused

As a Grant Maker, you need to be sure that by the time you award funding you have a seamless system in place for mitigating risk and ensuring your recipient is remaining accountable to the objectives outlined in the application.

According to the Grant Accountability Project’s “Guide to Opportunities for Improving Grant Accountability” a good way to do that is to implement purpose-built Grant Management Software (GMS) prior to an award.

“A grants management system and site visits allow agencies to effectively monitor grants by providing timely and accessible information on grant performance and deliverables. Given the large number of grants awarded, it is important that agencies identify, prioritize, and manage potential at-risk recipients.”

3. Invest in training at all levels

You have more power now than ever to make crucial decisions regarding your funding based on your recipients’ performance. However, to make these decisions, your entire grants team needs to have and maintain a thorough understanding of the ever-changing Federal grant regulations.

As is stated in the Journal of the Grant Professionals Association’s “The New Age of Accountability: Linking Activities to Outcomes and Cost,”

“To get a clear understanding of grantee responsibilities as fiscal agents, grant managers must turn to grantor regulations and program requirements.”

AmpliFact: Set Objectives With Templates

AmpliFund provides templates for both performance plans and for budgets. Through these templates, which come equipped with goal categories, you can more easily define your objectives.

Award Management

Here’s where you monitor if the accountability measures you planned for in pre-award are infused in daily tasks.

Accountability Measures:

1. Evaluate the cost-based value of grant activities

Spend is one of the best ways you can measure how accountable your recipients have remained over your funding and is one of the best indicators of where to make changes.

As an example, according to the Journal of the Grant Professionals Association’s “The New Age of Accountability: Linking Activities to Outcomes and Cost,”

“When ‘cost per’ measures are tracked, such as cost per recipient or cost per activity hour, then a comparison of these unit costs for similar activities from period to period can be made. Based on this information, grant managers can make informed decisions as to which activities make the most sense to continue into future periods.”

Also, when using your GMS to monitor your recipients’ spend, make sure that you are comparing their expenditures to the initial projections, so you can ensure that they are not only using the allocated funds, but they are drawing down funds in such a way that it aligns with the initial agreed-upon goals of the grant.

2. Consistently audit your recipients’ performance

While your recipients should be monitoring their performance internally, you also need to maintain accountability over the funds you award. The key here is not just that you are evaluating things such as fund spend – but that you are performing these audits regularly. The sooner you can remedy issues, the better chance of maximizing the outcomes of your funding.

As the Grant Accountability Project suggests,

“Agencies can use internal and external audits of grantees to identify problems with grantee financial management and program operations. Awareness of problems allows grant officials to implement additional controls to effectively monitor a grantee’s use of funds and activities.”

3. Monitor Defined Risk Thresholds

If you have implemented a GMS in your organization, use it to define and monitor risk thresholds during award management.

By defining risk thresholds, both your organization and your recipients will have a clear understanding of what is expected, and it will allow you to make more accountability-related decisions on the funding. Check to see if your GMS provides risk-based notifications so you can receive automatic notifications if the grant is becoming high risk.

AmpliFact: Periodic Reporting Intervals

AmpliFund gives Grant Makers the power to set up periodic reporting intervals and timelines to dictate when their recipients need to provide reports on their performance. This ensures periodic updates on your funding, all automated through the system.

Closeout

An end of a grant cycle is the beginning of increased future accountability!

Accountability Measures:

1. Request personalized reports

Recipients may be managing multiple grants from a variety of funders. Therefore, you need to be clear on how they can present the most impactful report for your specific award so you can best evaluate their performance and maintain accountability over properly measuring the success of the funds you awarded.

2. Focus on performance-based outcomes, not just compliance-based outcomes

To better maintain accountability over funding as a Grant Maker, you need to ensure that the metrics you are evaluating from your recipients are no longer simply an evaluation of compliance. You need to be reviewing outcomes centered around performance to align with the larger Federal push towards accountability.

3. Inventory the accountability-affected outcomes

The closeout (or renewal) of one grant is always a good time to evaluate how you can improve upon your accountability standards in the future. Be sure to hone in on the grant’s accountability-affected outcomes to learn how you can improve everything from future award decisions to objective planning award management and auditing.

AmpliFact: Access to Historical Documents

AmpliFund retains all of your grant records, allowing you to quickly and accurately compare your originally agreed-upon performance plans to your recipients’ final outcome reports.

By housing these documents all in one system, you can better assess if you should continue the funding as well as identify how to evaluate accountability for future awards better.

In Summary

Understanding the standard grant regulations is key to maintaining grant accountability, no matter the stage.

To help you sift through the tediousness of the most recent and impactful update in grant-related legislation, check out our explanation of the key revisions to the Guidance for Grants and Agreements. In it, we cover the new initiatives and statutory requirements in the Guidance as well as clarify existing provisions.

If you’re ready to see how our solution can solve your problems, request a demo today. We’ll walk you through how AmpliFund can help you streamline operations, improve efficiency, maintain your compliance, and increase your ROI, all in a free customized 30-minute demo.

Subscribe to our blog