Grant Management: Process From Opportunity to Implementation
By Rachel Bennett on March 30, 2020
Grant management is the processes and methods organizations go through to oversee grants. It encompasses every part of a grant’s lifecycle, from pre-award research through post-award grant closeout. The process is always evolving and includes various lifecycle tasks through its unique award phases.
As a leading provider of grant management solutions, we understand how frustrating the lifecycle of a grant can be, as well as staying on top of ever-changing grant regulations and requirements. We understand it’s crucial to meet your deadlines, and accurate details and financial transparency are essential to accomplish your mission.
You need to be concentrating on making your funding work for your mission. To help you with this, we put together a guide to help you prepare for the entire lifecycle of the grant, to equip you with practices you can put in place now, and to share technology that can help you meet your organization’s needs.
Why You Need Grant Management
The easy answer… it helps you track grant performance.
It is critical that you consistently monitor your grants to maintain a working relationship between the Grant Maker and Grant Seeker. This improves all chances of your project running smoothly. Let’s look at some of the other reasons you need grant management:
- There is ever-changing legislation around grants and reporting requirements you must be aware of. Failure to comply could cost you critical grant funding.
- Organizations must communicate regularly with board and staff members, partner organizations, and the community. Poor communication can derail your process. Without internal and external communication practices in place, organizations run the risk of decentralized data, missed deadlines, and inaccurate reporting.
- You must monitor all stages of the grant process, pre-award, award, and post-award. This allows for any corrective actions where needed.
- Tracking and measuring the progress of a grant can be one of the greatest frustrations that grant managers face.
What is the Grant Process?
Grant management uses management systems throughout the process. It addresses weaknesses and manages risk.
Grant management runs through a linear lifecycle, meaning all the phases are sequential. Traditional linear project management lifecycle models are recognized as definition, planning, execution, and closure. You must complete one before you move on to another.
In grant management, the linear lifecycle model can be recognized as the funding opportunity, application, award decisions, and implementation/closeout.
There are two processes in the grant management cycle, one specifically for the Grant Seeker and the other for the Grant Maker.
Here are the key phases for any grant process:
Key Phases in the Grant Management Cycle for Grant Seeker
- Pre-Award – Planning
- Pre-Award – Opportunity
- Pre-Award – Application
- Post-Award – Execution & Management
- Post-Award – Close Out
Key Phases in the Grant Management Cycle for Grant Maker
- Pre-Award – Application Intake and Evaluation
- Pre-Award – Award Creation
- Post-Award – Payment Management and Award Administration
- Post-Award – Award Closeout
Application and Submittal Review (pre-award phase of the grant process)
In this phase, you will identify the opportunities that align with your organization’s needs and goals. Research and development will help you find the best match for the Grant Makers and Grant Seekers. Depending on the type of grant you are seeking, Federal, State, Local or others will determine the requirements needed.
A complete grant application is necessary. Once submitted, the application is reviewed. The review process takes into consideration other applicants and if you qualify. The review process takes time and varies on grant type.
Award Decisions and Notifications (award phase)
If you are selected, final grant agreement plans are prepared. A contract between the Grant Maker and the organization specifies the details of the partnership. Notifications are also sent to those that did not get their proposals accepted.
Implementation, Reporting, and Closeout (post-award phase)
Once funds are disbursed, mission-critical work can begin. You must ensure you will spend the grant funds and account for them as required and will meet all obligations. Implementation includes preparing your tracking system, open lines of communication with all involved, and establishing the proper accounting practices.
Efficiently and effectively managing a grant after the award demands clear requirements of the grant and open communication throughout the process. It is critical to establish a system for reporting and meeting upcoming deadlines. Tracking and reporting are made easier if you share all the details and information from pre-award to post-award.
The strength of your organization’s systems will make for successful grant management.
The closeout procedure reports on how the funds were received and spent. Additionally, documentation should remain on-file in case there is an audit or other reviews.
Common Grant Misconceptions
Grant misconceptions are common.
Let’s look at a few of the myths about grants and consider what is actually going on…
7 Grant Management Myths You Need to Let Go
1. Grants come with no strings attached.
By definition, grants come with restrictions and guidelines. After you are awarded a grant, your organization must meet deadlines and report on the progress of the grant.
2. There’s no money available for grants anymore.
Times have changed and grant opportunities are not to be taken lightly. A well-researched grant opportunity can win over the competition. To say there is no money is not accurate. To say the competition is fierce would be a more accurate assessment. Make your application a priority and leave nothing to question.
3. Most grant proposals get approved if they are done right.
Funders give grant dollars on a competitive basis. Applications that a review committee scored highest are funded.
4. Grants are awarded to those who have the greatest need.
Those who meet the grant goals better than all other applicants will receive the funding.
5. Grant management begins after the grant award notice is signed.
Grant management is a process that you need to follow concisely from start to finish. You need to give potential funders clear documentation on how you will account for grant dollars in the early stages of the process.
6. Grant writing and grant management involve one person.
There is no singular person running the process. It involves several departments and outside collaborators.
7. We will get the same grant every year.
Future funding will depend on your satisfactory performance. Take nothing for granted!
Tips for Better Grant Management and Best Practices
Let’s face it…
Grant management can be cumbersome if you don’t understand the pitfalls you could be faced with. You need the proper tools and policies in place to avoid frustration and ultimately to carry out a successful mission.
So first and foremost:
- Put your mission first. Ensure your mission and the grant are a good fit.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to include your finance department. Grant proposals require a great budget. Who better to administer this part than the finance department?
- Understand all the costs involved. Will you need additional operating funds?
- Plan to monitor and track. Grant giving organizations require recipients to submit detail upon request.
Improve Your Grant Process With Technology for Project Management
As grant management professionals seek to maintain compliance, generate revenue and increase capacity in their organizations, technology is one solution offered up for consideration. Grant management software can help you expedite grant management processes and drive efficiencies. This allows resources to focus on programmatic and strategic plan-related projects.
Is your organization ready for grant management software? Take the quiz today to find out if now is the right time to implement it.
Grant Management Software Readiness Checklist
Is the timing right for you to implement?
Check whether you agree or disagree with the following statements…
- Based on our grant revenue, we are subject to an A-133 audit.
- We manage at least one large grant with detailed reporting requirements.
- We manage and report on several small-to-mid-sized grants.
- We are the lead recipient on one or more grants and are responsible for reporting on sub-recipient performance.
- Multiple departments within our organization submit grant reporting data to our development office for inclusion in performance reports.
- We receive Federal funds and need to remain compliant with new regulations, including the DATA Act, OMB Uniform Grants Guidance, and the GREAT Act.
- We failed to receive a clean opinion on a recent grant audit.
- Lost drawdown has cost our organization awarded funds.
- We are unable to provide financial or non-financial data to support program performance to grantors.
- Grants have not been renewed due to our organization’s inability to properly report on performance.
- Our development office is stretched thin and has limited time to pursue new funding opportunities.
- Grant manager(s) do not feel they have enough time to devote to the entire grant lifecycle.
- We use Excel, Word and other software tools together to manage the pre-and-post-award process.
- We frequently miss deadlines associated with grant activity.
- If we lost our grant manager(s), others in the organization would be unable to easily pick up where s/he stopped.
- Grant information is siloed among key personnel with no central repository or management process.
Competition for grant funding is fierce, but an effective grants management system will support your efforts and manage the entire grants lifecycle. Properly monitoring all activities is essential to mitigating financial risk, and without the help of technology, improper tracking is much more likely to happen.
As organizations expand their programs, technology is key to scaling and streamlining as well as maintaining and measuring key data. Therefore, a grants management system is the right solution for helping you achieve your mission.