How to Manage a Grant

How to Manage a Grant

Many nonprofit organizations and government agencies rely on grants to maintain their programs, events and services. While it’s essential to understand the grant writing process, knowing how to successfully manage grants is equally critical. Though earning a grant can positively impact your organization, it’s only one small part of the complete grant cycle, which can be more complicated than you realize. 

To effectively manage grants, you must track them throughout their life cycle, accurately analyze grant data and ensure you meet grant compliance and requirements. Grant management can refer to the organizations that award and distribute funds and those who write proposals and reports for grants. In this guide, we’ll focus on grant management from grant seekers’ perspective and explain how to keep track of funds throughout the full grant management life cycle.

Grant Management Process Flow

Effective grant management starts with understanding the entire grant management process, which consists of three primary stages. Let’s look at the steps involved in each phase. 

1. Pre-Award Stage 

In the pre-award stage, grant seekers will complete an application for grant-makers to review. During this phase, organizations will collect internal information and identify opportunities that align with their goals for the funding they require. Once organizations submit their application, the review process allows grant-makers to determine whether applicants qualify. Remember, the review stage varies depending on the grant type.

With an organized, clear action plan, you can handle this process more efficiently and prevent wasting valuable time. Here are the three things that occur during the pre-award stage.

  • Grant planning: The planning step consists of gathering details about your fundraising needs, team size, revenue and many other factors about your facility or organization. Once you collect this information, you can seek grant opportunities that fill the gaps in your agency, such as a specific goal or new mission that requires funding. 
  • Grant opportunity: You can keep track of grant opportunities by using your county’s grant database. Once you identify which grants you’d like to apply for, you must ensure you meet the requirements, such as having specific expertise or internal capacity. Because every grant is different, it’s vital to know which opportunities align with your agency. 
  • Grant application: Once you’ve collected the necessary information and identified a grant that matches your needs and qualifications, it’s time to apply. Using the details listed on the website, write your application and send it to the correct contact.

Before applying for funding, you and your team can avoid running into issues during this process by asking the following questions:

  • Are we eligible for the grants we’re applying for?
  • Do we meet all the necessary criteria for the grant?
  • Do we have a clear funding objective?
  • Do we know the revenue projections?
  • How many volunteers and employees do we have on staff?
  • Will this funding help us succeed in our missions?
  • What are the deadlines involved in the process?

Once you send in your application, your organization or agency will move on to the next phase in the grant management process flow. 

2. Award Stage 

The award stage is generally the shortest, but the most exciting, of the three phases. During this phase, the funders will notify all applications of their decision. If the grant-maker approves your application, they will award the grant, come to an agreement with your organization and distribute the funds. The grant agreement will contain the partnership’s terms and conditions, which are critical to the grant management process. 

These details could include information about the funds you plan to use for various programs or initiatives or the size of your volunteer team. The terms may also vary depending on the type of grant you receive and how large of a sum it is. Once you and the funder sign the agreement, your agency or organization will officially receive the money.  

3. Post-Award Stage

After you receive your funds, you will enter the post-award stage. Here, the grantor and recipient work together to meet all requirements and expectations within the agreement. During this stage, you and the funder must go through the implementation, reporting and closeout.

  • Implementation: Regardless of whether you’re in health care, education, transportation or government, you must ensure you spend the grant funds according to these terms and account for them to show the grantor you’re meeting your obligations. This step requires preparing a tracking system with open lines of communication and establishing appropriate accounting practices for the funds you’ve received. 
  • Reporting: The reporting, or monitoring, phase involves sharing the details of your post-award implementation. This stage may involve sending periodic reports or undergoing an auditing program with in-person interviews and on-site visits. During the reporting stage, grant-makers want to see project updates and know how their organization impacts your mission.
  • Closeout: Once you implement the funding, you move on to the grant closeout phase. This phase involves storing data on funding amounts, including how you used them, for future reference. During this stage, it’s helpful to reflect on your organizational objectives and determine whether the grant was useful for your needs, which can help you apply for grants in the future. 
How to Manage a Grant

How to Manage Grants 

Now that you know the general layout of the grant process flow, let’s review some additional tips for grant management. 

Identify Needs and Organizational Roles 

Determine what the grant will help you achieve and how your team will handle each aspect of the grant process. Will you need new tools for tracking expenses and managing your new program? Does your grant management team include members from every department across your agency? The more everyone understands their responsibilities, the easier the process will be.

Regularly Review Your Grant Requirements 

Even if you go over your grant agreement with all team members, it’s critical to periodically review your obligations to remind everyone of their expected deliverables and the time frame for completion.

Prepare Your Team 

Your finance and accounting team should know how to correctly record and report funds in compliance with the grant’s requirements. Depending on the type of funding you receive, and whether you’re managing multiple grants at a time, you may need separate processes for recording incoming or reimbursed funds. Grants may have several protocols and rules regarding reporting, so it’s critical to be aware of these expectations. If your agency receives a government grant, prepare your team for financial audits and ensure you have the proper documents on hand. 

Report on Progress Internally 

While most funders will require periodic updates and reports, it’s wise to communicate your progress within your team. Regularly reporting across departments or individuals about updates, changes and progress toward goals can keep everyone aligned and inform management of potential issues in advance. 

Confirm Your Grant Closeout Plan

During your grant program’s final stretch, review the outlined requirements about final reporting or activities you must complete before the closeout. What terms define the end of your grant? How will you and the funder measure success? Which documents and reports will you need? Determine these specifics ahead of time to avoid last-minute issues. 

6 Grant Management Best Practices 

Grant management can become an obstacle if you don’t have the proper tools and policies to avoid frustration and use your grants effectively for your strategic initiative or mission. Consider the following grant management tracking best practices.

1. Keep Your Grants Organized

Whether you apply for one grant or several, it’s critical to ensure you have a well-organized tracking process to monitor each grant through the life cycle. For instance, if your organization receives three grants, you should separate them in your tracking system so you can easily identify them, their requirements and your position in the grant cycle. 

Likewise, if you have sent multiple applications or are in various implementation stages with your grants, you can quickly become confused and lose sight of your obligations. By tracking all funding documents, correspondence and deliverables, you and your staff may experience a much smoother process. You must also ensure your financial reports and accounting meet your donor’s required line items.

How to Manage a Grant

2. Create a Grant Tracking Calendar

Creating a joint, robust grant tracking calendar can help you and your team members monitor grant application submission deadlines, reporting obligations and deliverables. A shared calendar allows everyone in your agency or organization to stay ahead of upcoming reports and deadlines, allowing you to prepare and review necessary documents before they’re due. 

This tool can be beneficial if your organization has several grants because it allows your staff to more effectively manage their workload and see a broader view of deadlines throughout the year.

3. Assign Tasks to a Well-Trained Team

Clearly define the roles of each person on your staff or volunteer list to make managing grants more efficient and streamlined. By delegating tasks to different employees or departments within your organization, you can avoid confusion about who is responsible for specific grant activities and reporting requirements. 

However, if you separate tasks this way, it’s critical to ensure every department and individual knows where your organization is during the entire grant process, from proposal development to the closeout. Assigning tasks to different team members doesn’t mean they should only focus on their end of the goal, so allow your team to come together to coordinate timelines and financial needs. 

To identify problems in advance and ensure you’re meeting your requirements, establish recurring meetings to review expenses and confirm whether you can meet deliverables within the deadlines. This process can help you determine whether you may need a budget modification or grant extension.

4. Monitor Your Spending

Take stock of your organizational capacity. In your grant proposal writing process, confirm whether you have the bandwidth to deliver on the activities, budget and timeline. Consider whether you may have to hire new team members and whether you’ve accounted for all necessary costs needed to carry out the proposed activities. 

During the application process, one of the most significant mistakes you can make is underestimating the costs your agency or organization needs to appear more favorable to grantors. Ultimately, this can create stress about stretching your budget and your ability to deliver the planned activities in the required time frame.

Once you receive your grant award, you may either receive allocated funds directly to spend or implement your work on a reimbursement basis. Either way, you must provide proof of where and how you spent these funds. With a specific procedure for tracking each expenditure, you can ensure you manage your proof of purchases and receipts when needed for a report.

5. Recognize the Legality of the Agreement

Your agency, organization or facility should ensure all necessary team members read and understand the terms and conditions of the grant agreement before you sign. By having your team confirm their knowledge of the budget, reporting deadlines and deliverables, you can avoid running into problems down the road. Because every grant will have different details and requirements, everyone in your organization must understand these nuances and the grantor’s expectations. 

Before signing the grant agreement, consider having a legal team review it to prevent unforeseen issues and make necessary changes, such as altering reporting timelines or deliverable due dates. 

How to Manage a Grant

6. Invest in the Right Tools for Managing Grant Data 

Whether you’ve applied for your first grant this year or have to continuously adapt your grant management plan to make it more effective, having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference. Implementing a grant management system lets you see complete grant data from a centralized point. 

With tools that allow your staff to review and report on grant data throughout the entire funding life cycle, you can more effectively manage your grants and meet required deadlines on time. With grant management software, you can track your status and critical information from the pre-application phase throughout the closeout. 

How to Manage a Grant

Learn More About IntelliGrants® From IGX Solutions 

The entire grant funding process can be a headache waiting to happen if you don’t know how to correctly organize, track and report your grant data within the required deadlines. At IGX Solutions, we know how essential it is to keep up with critical deliverables throughout the entire grant life cycle. Our IntelliGrants platform allows government agencies, educational and health care facilities, nonprofits and many other industries to manage all grant data in a unified, user-friendly system. 

The IntelliGrants solution empowers agencies to efficiently analyze, track and report on all grant data in the system from any stage in the grant life cycle, from pre-application and beyond. Our full-service grant management software will allow you to streamline your workflows and enhance your grants’ visibility and management. Instead of using outdated systems or separate tools, keep all the information you and your team need right at your fingertips. Book a demo today or contact us online to see how we can help your organization manage grants.