Managing COVID-19 Recovery Funding
By Rachel Bennett on July 12, 2020
A guide to quickly and efficiently distributing and managing unprecedented amounts of funding for your community’s successful recovery.
Effectively managing recovery funds looks different than successfully managing the typical grant funding your organization receives. A community’s recovery from COVID-19 is dependent on how quickly organizations can distribute funds and how efficiently recipients can manage a higher than normal volume of grant dollars.
As a result, if you are dealing with COVID-19 funds, you will have to tailor what team you assemble to manage these funds, what tools you choose to help you manage these funds, the implementation of these tools, how you maintain the integrity of the funds, how you report on these funds, and how you measure the outcomes.
To help ensure your community’s most successful recovery, we have put together a guide to effectively managing and distributing recovery funds.
Putting Together Your Recovery Grants Team
Who makes up the recovery committee will differ from entity to entity. It is the ability of this team to make and drive central decisions that is critical. Recovery grants will impact many parts of an organization, so you need a team that represents various departments that can collectively make these quick decisions, maintain transparency, and accurately monitor the use of funds for a successful recovery.
There are a few key positions you should consider including on your team to help facilitate a successful COVID-19 recovery.
Lead Statewide COVID-19 Grants Coordinator
As with any grants team, you need one team member overseeing the entirety of the process to ensure efficiency, transparency, consistency, and accuracy. The Lead Statewide COVID-19 Grants Coordinator will be responsible for owning all grants-related recovery tasks and activities, implementing the recovery strategy, and ensuring communication within the state to the Governor’s office.
This individual will integrate decision-making and data across and between elements of the organization that are reliant on the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for implementing and tracking information related to policy.
Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Similar Representative
Since recovery is centered around data, you need a team member who can properly manage the collection of the large amounts of data you have to capture. For many states, the best team member for this role would be the CDO. Not all states have a CDO, however. If this is the case, choose another representative who can efficiently carry out these tasks.
Representative from the Leadership Office
Top-down buy-in is critical for recovery success. A Representative from the Leadership Office will drive the data collection and distribution to enable decision-making to lead to faster and more effective recovery.
Picking Your Recovery Technology Tool
In order to move the funds as quickly as possible, a tool is needed from the technology front to be able to handle the requisite volume of tens of thousands of applications and to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars. Keep in mind that you will need this tool set up in less than four weeks for optimal recovery, which is why a grants management software that is purpose-built can be your best go-to.
- Choose technology providers that have been successful in managing the volume of awards you are seeing.
- Pick a management system that you can configure as you will be managing and distributing funds from different funding streams.
- Have a system in place that is integrated between recipients and the grant-making agency to ensure accurate and timely reporting.
Questions to ask potential technology providers
To guarantee you choose a technology provider who can handle all of the above points, be sure to ask potential providers the following questions:
- Have you worked with recovery funds before and if so, what were the outcomes?
- Can you provide examples of customers you have worked with that are similar to our organization in size and scope?
- Is your technology configured to manage COVID-19 funds?
- What functionality does your technology provide to assist customers in managing recovery funds?
- How do you adapt your typical implementation timeline to account for the timeliness required of working with recovery funds?
- Can you implement the technology in less than four weeks?
- Can your system be integrated between the grant-making agency and recipients?
- How does your system handle the monitoring and reporting of recovery funds so we can ensure we are remaining compliant and timely?
Implementing Your Recovery System
The actual funds themselves are not enough to ensure your community’s recovery. Time is too valuable to waste, so you will need to put your funds to work faster so you don’t hold your recovery back.
Leveraging your technology is the key to increasing your usual speed of distribution. This is because technology can increase the pace and accuracy of data collection. One of the biggest changes you will likely have to make, however, is your approach to implementing this technology because the typical implementation period takes longer than you can afford in a time of recovery.
Instead of focusing on a full tie-in to other business processes and systems like you would with typical implementations, you will have to approach implementation backwards to focus solely on the speed of distribution.
Implementation Timeline When Managing Recovery Funds
Management –> Collect –> Distribute –> Build in Business Processes
Managing the Integrity of Your Recovery Funds
Once you resolve the issues of increasing the speed of your distribution and managing a higher than normal volume of awards, you must then focus on the integrity of your distribution. This means ensuring you have the proper outputs and outcomes per the money you have spent.
There are three specific aspects to monitor when it comes to integrity:
- Ensure that the applicant is not related to or affiliated with other DUNS numbers. If they are, ensure that validation cross-references a full set of identity records.
- Validate the applicant against existing datasets, including Federal and State datasets.
- Detect outliers in spending patterns or ratios in applications that may imply specific issues.
Reporting on and Tracking Your Recovery Funds
As the percentage of grant revenue becomes a larger portion of operating budgets, detailed reports will become integral to driving activity that leads to recovery.
Understanding how resources are being leveraged will lead to practical knowledge of effective programs. The ability to link these programs to the outcomes will lead to both practical and political results.
When choosing a system to help you manage COVID-19 funding, do not forget to research its reporting and tracking functionality. Specifically, the system should:
- Have configurable reporting to filter for the COVID-19 funds
- Give the central team access and visibility to the funds
- Tag funds with meta-data to allow for tracking down through the award to the recipient
- Link all outputs to the meta-data
- Allow for report segmentation
- Link outputs to funds
- Code funds for central tracking and reporting
Measuring Outcomes of Recovery
Over the length of the recovery it will be key to see which outputs relate to the most successful outcomes. Use this data to continue to invest resources into what is best driving the recovery.
To most accurately measure the outcomes of your recovery, include the following datasets:
- Employment rates
- Tax revenues
- Unemployment applications
- School lunch
- Weather data
- Highway data
- Water data
- Air data
- Income tax
- Sales tax
- Hotel tax
- Payroll tax
- Crime data
- Addiction data
- Domestic violence data
- Health plan data
- Early childhood program data
- Public health data
By closely monitoring and reporting on these datasets, your organization will be equipped with important quantitative information that will demonstrate just how well your new strategic approach to grant management has aided your community’s quick and successful recovery.
Managing recovery funding may seem overwhelming. However, once you assemble the right team, choose an effective Grant Management System, adjust your implementation timeline, manage the integrity of your funds, and determine how best to report on your funds as well as measure your outcomes, your community will be well on its way to a successful recovery.
Learn more about how AmpliFund can help you distribute and track outcomes on an unprecedented volume of recovery funding.