A Guide to Better Grant Reporting and Accurate Financials

A Guide to Better Grant Reporting and Accurate Financials

Managing grants and maintaining accurate financial records is crucial for organizations and institutions that rely on funding to fulfill their missions. However, grant reporting and financial management can often be complex and challenging. 

This guide aims to provide you with an overview of how grant reporting works, with practical tips, grant reporting best practices and strategies to improve the reporting processes and ensure financial accuracy. It will also detail a few common mistakes in grant reporting and strategies you can use to avoid them. By rethinking your current requirements and introducing the suggestions outlined in this article to your grant recipients, they will be better equipped to meet your expectations, enhance transparency and effectively utilize resources.

Federal Grant Reporting Requirements to Implement

Federal grant reporting requirements can vary depending on the specific grant program and the federal agency providing the funding. However, there are several common reporting requirements that organizations receiving federal grants may need to adhere to, and therefore grantmakers must keep in mind. Here are some key aspects of federal grant reporting:

  • Financial reports: Generally, organizations must submit financial reports, including the statement of federal financial position, statement of federal activities and statement of cash flows. These reports provide a detailed breakdown of how grant funds were spent, including expenditures, revenues and any cost-sharing or matching requirements. Financial reports should be prepared according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or other specified accounting standards.
  • Performance reports:Performance reports outline the progress and outcomes achieved with the federal grant funding. These reports typically include information on project activities, milestones, objectives and deliverables. Grantmakers have the right to request performance reports including quantitative and qualitative data to demonstrate the impact of the grant-funded programs or projects.
  • Data collection and reporting systems: Additionally, you may require federal grant recipients use specific data collection and reporting systems. These systems facilitate standardized reporting formats and ensure consistency across different grant programs. Organizations may need to enter data related to your financial transactions, program outputs and outcomes into these systems.
  • Compliance and audit reports: Federal grantors often require recipients to comply with specific regulations and policies, such as those related to procurement, cost allowability and reporting. Compliance reports demonstrate adherence to these regulations and may require supporting documentation, such as procurement records. Organizations may also be subject to audits conducted by internal or external auditors to assess the financial management and compliance of the grant recipient.
  • Reporting timelines: Finally, your reporting requirements should specify deadlines for submitting financial and performance reports and consequences for failing to meet them, such as penalties, loss of funding or restrictions on future grants.

As a funding agency, it is your role to create specific terms and conditions for your grantors to review and adhere to. Maintaining accurate records, timely submission of reports and proactive communication are crucial for successful federal grant management.

How Recipients Should Write a Grant Report

Grant reports provide you with an account of how your funds were used and how they contribute to the objectives outlined in the grant proposal. While reporting is generally the role of the grant recipient, it can be helpful for grantmakers to understand how grant reporting works and where many organizations fall short. Here are some steps involved in creating an effective report to help you understand the process and what to look for:

How to Write a Grant Report

1. Review the Grant Agreement and Reporting Guidelines

The first step in writing a grant report is thoroughly reviewing the grant agreement and reporting guidelines. When your recipients review these guidelines, it will help them understand the scope of the report, the specific information to include and the deadlines to meet. This step sets the stage for a successful and compliant grant reporting process.

2. Gather Necessary Information

To gather the necessary information to write a grant report, recipients will need to collect and compile data and documentation related to the funded project.

By systematically gathering and organizing the required information, they build a solid foundation for writing a comprehensive and well-supported grant report. During this time, it’s crucial for them to refer back to the grant agreement and reporting guidelines from the first step to ensure they address all your specified requirements.

3. Provide Project Background and Objectives

When writing a grant report, organizations should provide a clear and concise project background and objectives section. Here are some ways your recipients can effectively convey this information:

  • Describe the need or problem
  • Outline the project objectives
  • Provide project background information
  • Describe the target population or beneficiaries
  • Explain project strategies and approaches
  • Align with the grant funder’s priorities
  • Keep it concise and clear

Following these grant reporting tips helps organizations provide a comprehensive and compelling project background and objectives section in grant reports to help you understand the project’s context, purpose and intended impact.

4. Detail Project Activities and Progress

Writing grant reports also involves providing detailed information about project activities and progress. During this process, organizations should: 

  • Organize by reporting period
  • Provide an overview
  • Describe specific activities
  • Discuss accomplishments and results
  • Quantify progress
  • Include supporting evidence
  • Discuss challenges and mitigation strategies
  • Reflect on lessons learned
  • Be transparent and honest
  • Use visuals and graphics

Presenting a detailed account of project activities and progress shows transparency and accountability and proves the value of the grant funding received.

5. Report on Financial Expenditures

When writing a grant report, we recommend recipients include a section on financial expenditures, detailing accurate, clear and well-organized information. Encourage the use of tables, charts or graphs if they help present the data. Organizations should also take care to follow any specific reporting guidelines from the grant funder to comply with their requirements.

6. Evaluate Project Impact

The next step is evaluating the project’s impact to demonstrate the grant’s effectiveness and value. The grant report should:

  • Clearly define evaluation criteria
  • Identify data sources
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Measure outputs and outcomes
  • Consider intended and unintended impacts 
  • Compare against objectives
  • Provide evidence and examples
  • Reflect on lessons learned

These strategies present a comprehensive assessment allowing the grantmaker to clearly evaluate the project’s impact. Organizations should take care to align their evaluation with the grant agreement’s objectives and reporting requirements and support their findings with reliable and relevant data.

7. Proofread and Edit

Proofreading and editing a grant report ensures accuracy, clarity, and professionalism in writing. As writers enter the editing process, they should:

  • Read the report aloud
  • Check grammar and spelling
  • Review sentence clarity and conciseness
  • Verify facts and figures
  • Check formatting and structure
  • Seek feedback
  • Revise for clarity and impact
  • Proofread again
  • Do a final review

8. Seek Feedback and Approval

Seeking input and support during the grant report writing process can ensure the document meets stakeholders’ expectations and requirements. Here are some steps recipients may take to seek your feedback and approval:

  1. Identify key stakeholders
  2. Set clear expectations
  3. Establish a timeline
  4. Share the draft report
  5. Request specific feedback
  6. Schedule review meetings
  7. Consolidate and address feedback
  8. Seek final approval
  9. Document approval and revisions
  10. Follow up and thank stakeholders

During this stage, the recipient’s organization will likely be in contact with you regularly, ensuring their report meets the necessary standards and aligns with your expectations. Regular communication and collaboration with stakeholders are key to producing a high-quality and well-reviewed grant report.

9. Submit the Report

Finally, you can expect to see the report in your inbox after the organization: 

  1. Reviews the submission guidelines
  2. Prepares the final version
  3. Gathers supporting documents
  4. Compiles the report package
  5. Creates a cover letter or summary
  6. Checks for completeness
  7. Follows submission instructions
  8. Keeps a record
  9. Confirms receipt

Grant Reporting Best Practices Recipients and Grantmakers Can Follow

By following the best practices below, organizations can enhance their grant reporting process and meet your expectations:

  • Understand reporting requirements: Grantees must familiarize themselves with your specific reporting guidelines and requirements to be sure they understand the content, format and timeline expectations for each report.
  • Maintain accurate and transparent financial records: Organizations must establish robust financial management practices, including accurate bookkeeping and record-keeping. They should regularly reconcile financial statements with bank statements, receipts and other supporting documentation to ensure accurate reporting.
  • Document progress and achievements: You may want to regularly monitor and document progress made toward achieving project goals and objectives. Request reports to analyze relevant data and evaluate the impact and outcomes of the funded project. Using both quantitative and qualitative measures can provide a comprehensive picture of project achievements.
  • Be clear, conciseand complete: Grant reports should clearly articulate the project’s progress, challenges and outcomes. By using concise and straightforward language, a grantee can ensure the report is easily understandable.
  • Provide evidence and supporting documentation: Check each report for supporting documentation, such as receipts, invoices or photographs, to substantiate reporting. Ensure all data and figures are supported with accurate and reliable evidence.
  • Demonstrate alignment with grant objectives: Organizations should clearly communicate how the grant funding has contributed to achieving the desired impact.
  • Engage in regular communication: We also suggest maintaining open and proactive communication with grantees throughout the reporting period. You can seek clarification if you encounter inconsistencies and answer questions to ensure a satisfactory report. Request updates on significant developments or achievements even outside the regular reporting schedule.
  • Plan for timely and regular reporting: A reporting schedule can ensure grantees submit reports in a timely manner. We recommend avoiding last-minute rushes by establishing deadlines well ahead of the actual submission deadline.
  • Review and quality assurance: Reviews and quality checks may ensure the report’s accuracy, coherence and completeness. Your recipient should double-check all calculations, data and references for errors.
  • Maintain documentation for auditing and compliance: Finally, all parties should keep a record of all submitted reports, including electronic copies and any related correspondence. Retain all supporting documents and evidence in case of audits or future inquiries. 

Sharing these grant reporting tips with your recipients can enhance the quality of the grant reports you receive, demonstrating their commitment to transparency, accountability and productive use of grant funds clearly and comprehensively.

Grant Reporting Mistakes to Avoid

As you anticipate a stellar report from your organizations, it may be helpful to share some of these common pitfalls in grant reporting before their final submission:

  • Missing deadlines: It’s easy for anyone to lose track of time, especially when focusing on something as comprehensive as a grant report. Make sure your grantees have plans and backup plans to ensure their report arrives on your desk on time.
  • Omitting negative outcomes: Many organizations fear that discussing challenges and negative outcomes will give them a bad reputation in the eyes of their grantor. However, this research is about learning, and mistakes and failures are an invaluable part of the learning process. Reassure your grantees that you want to see the full scope of their findings — good and bad — so you can make the most of your investment.

This can save both of you time in the long run by avoiding post-deadline edits and instilling confidence in all parties that the report will be as thorough and informative as possible.

Contact Us at IGX Solutions

Following the steps and recommendations in this guide can help your recipients enhance the grant reporting processes, maintain accurate financial records and ensure compliance with your reporting requirements. Effective grant reporting supports efficient fund management, strengthens relationships with grantors and enhances organization credibility.

Contact Us at IGX Solutions

At IGX Solutions, we can help with grant management by providing a range of solutions and expertise that streamline the federal grant reporting process and ensure compliance with grant requirements. Here are some ways we can help:

  • Data collection and management: We can help organizations collect, organize and manage the data required for grant reporting.
  • Performance evaluation and analysis: We can also support organizations in evaluating their performance and analyzing the data collected for grant reporting purposes. We can provide insights and recommendations based on analysis to help improve program outcomes and meet grant goals.
  • Application management: Our grant management software can effortlessly handle applications and awards, providing comprehensive insight into the process.
  • Fiscal reporting: With our software, organizations can accurately track and process expense data. Our robust accounting tools make financial reporting simple.

Several organizations and industries use IntelliGrants IGX, including nonprofits, health care, educational institutions, and federal, local, state and tribal governments. The benefits of our full-service grant management software include:

  • Agility
  • Security
  • Integration
  • Compliance
  • Productivity
  • Accessibility
  • Convenience
  • Personalization
  • Consistent upgrades

By leveraging our expertise and services, you can ensure accurate, timely and compliant grant reporting, enhancing your reputation and enabling you to provide more grant funding in the future. Contact us at IGX Solutions to book a demo and learn more grant reporting best practices. 

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