The Different Roles in Grant Management

The Different Roles in Grant Management

Table of Contents:

Grants aren’t won in a day, and many different people play their parts to earn and issue awards for their organizations. Grantmakers, grant seekers and their staff contribute to the grant management process with various skills and responsibilities.

Understanding these roles and their impacts on the grant management lifecycle can help you reach your goals, whether you want to earn more grants or reach more applicants.

Key Grant Management Roles

Grant management roles can vary widely across organizations, and they aren’t necessarily tied to a specific job title. While a small organization might have one person in charge of everything, a larger organization could have many staff members for each role. Still, most grant management teams have people dedicated to these functions.

Here are some of the primary roles involved in the grant management process.


The grantmaker is the organization awarding the grant, also called the grantor. It may have a director, administrator or other leadership position take charge of the entire process. This person works closely with the grantmaking organization’s leadership, such as a board, and focuses on long-term goals.

They’ll coordinate the grant around the organization’s overarching strategy and mission. A strong knowledge of the foundation’s history and story is essential. A grantmaking director will also focus on building relationships with grantees and managing regulatory requirements.

Some of the tasks that fall to the grantmaking organization or the director include:

  • Specifying terms and conditions: Grantmakers determine the requirements grant seekers must meet before applying, such as having beneficiaries in a specific category or covering a particular geographic area.
  • Determining selection criteria: A grantmaker decides how to evaluate grant seekers and determine who gets the funds. Some examples of these criteria include the organization’s background, the impact of the potential program and the organization’s financial health.
  • Announcing and sharing the grant: By announcing their grant and sharing it in the right channels, grantmakers can improve application rates from qualified organizations.
  • Collecting and reviewing applications: Grantmakers must set up a system for collecting, managing and reviewing applications. Depending on the size of the program, this process can be complex. Most grantmakers use specialized software to create a submission portal, organize applications, collect related documents, communicate with applicants, perform fair evaluations and notify recipients.
  • Following up with outcomes: In the post-award process, the grantmaker monitors outcomes across recipients to ensure the funds effectively support the grantmaking organization’s mission. Grantmakers will stay in contact with grantees to collect progress updates, perform site visits or otherwise gather information as outlined in the grant application. This stage includes extensive data collection, analysis and reporting and can help grantmakers reduce risk for future programs.
Throughout the process,

Throughout the process, grantors strive to maximize the efficacy of their funds. Reducing bias in the review stage, for instance, can help grantmakers support the most capable and promising applicants. Even providing a simple, intuitive experience to applicants allows grantmakers to ultimately support their missions — reducing confusion and administrative burden gives recipients more resources to focus on their work.


The grantee refers to the organization receiving a grant. After receiving an award, a grantee must meet requirements from different entities, including the grantor and regulators:

  • Submitting reports: Most grantors require grantees to submit regular reports. These documents keep the grantor updated on how the grantee uses the funds. Many grantmakers ask for programmatic and financial reports, which describe project activities and expenses, respectively.
  • Keeping detailed records: Building these reports calls for strong record-keeping practices. Grantees collect many types of data, ranging from invoices and receipts to certifications, meeting minutes and correspondence. An unexpected audit might also require grantees to have these materials ready.
  • Using funds appropriately: Grantees must ensure every award dollar gets used according to the terms of the program. Careful planning and financial management support these tasks.
  • Maintaining compliance: Similarly, grantees consider regulations and legislation during the grant management process. Following relevant requirements helps reduce risk and avoid adverse effects, like high fines or damage to your reputation.
  • Evaluating and analyzing data: While not a requirement, grantees usually use data for internal purposes, like learning how to improve programs.
  • Communicating with the public:  Many grant recipients share the results of projects with the general public to build transparency, trust and support. They might speak with journalists, share material online or speak at events.

A grantee’s responsibilities can vary widely depending on the grant and program. Carrying out this grant management role well is crucial for supporting future funding demands. A track record of strong, effective partnerships looks great to potential funders, who research their applicants before granting awards.

Grants Manager

The grants manager role belongs to the grant-seeking organization. This individual can go by many titles, such as grant lifecycle manager, grants administrator or program administrator. This person leads the department through the entire grant management process with an emphasis on logistics. They take a high-level approach to the grant cycle, keeping track of deadlines, ensuring compliance and helping the grant-seeking team succeed.

A grants manager should have extensive experience in grants management and understand the process, from finding potential grants to maintaining relationships with grantors.

Tasks a grants manager might perform include:

  • Overseeing the grants management staff and process: This person has a strong understanding of the entire grants management process, including best practices, technology and trends. They must make strategic decisions and supervise the grant team.
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations and grant requirements: A grants manager helps ensure the organization complies with requirements for individual grants, regulations, accounting requirements, and federal, state and local legislation.
  • Facilitating timely submissions and processes: Keeping track of deadlines and schedules helps grant managers submit materials on time, such as reports, applications and required documentation. A grant manager also supports timely submissions by preparing the team with the necessary information and tools.
  • Providing training and technology: One of the ways grant managers prepare their teams is by selecting valuable and cost-effective resources. They may implement tools such as training materials, grant management software and other valuable technology solutions.
  • Managing finances: Tracking funds, managing a budget and allocating resources all require financial management skills from a grant manager. Even if the organization has an accounting team, a grants manager will likely perform basic financial tasks, especially regarding strategic decisions.
  • Monitoring and reporting on costs and outcomes: The grant manager collects data throughout the project and compiles reports to submit to grantmakers, internal teams, regulators and the public.
  • Managing relationships with grantors: Good partnerships support future funding efforts, so grant managers must maintain them through correspondence, public thank-yous and similar activities.

You’ll find this role in federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as in educational and nonprofit organizations. Grants managers usually report to a high-level team member, such as an executive director or chief financial officer. In smaller organizations, an executive director, program director or similar role might also be the grants manager.

Many grant-seekers look for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but these professionals come from diverse fields and backgrounds. Some obtain certification as a Certified Grants Management Specialist. Important qualities include strategic thinking, organizational skills and communication skills.

Grant Writer

Grant Writer

The grant writer puts the organization’s mission into words. This person will need some creative flair and strong writing skills to craft formal proposals, letters of inquiry and other content. They must weave technical details into a compelling story to connect with grantmakers and secure funding.

Typically, the grant writer role works for grant-seeking organizations, but some grantmakers will also have grant writers to create requests for proposals and other materials.

Below are some of the tasks involved in a grant writer’s workflow:

  • Finding grant opportunities: Grant writers might take responsibility for finding grants that align with the organization’s goals and capabilities.
  • Researching funders and projects: To effectively write proposals, grant writers dive into the details of potential funders. This information helps them understand what the grantor values and looks for in recipients. Grant writers must also perform research to inform their proposal, such as statistics to back up claims or show a need in a community.
  • Coordinating with other teams: Some of a grant writer’s research requires internal data, so someone in this grant management role might connect with accountants, project teams and other experts to gather information.
  • Writing proposals and other content: Naturally, the grant writer will create proposals, along with other materials like letters of inquiry and final grant reports. They could also write supporting content, like success stories or case studies of prior grant projects.
  • Meeting grant requirements: Making a proposal requires the grant writer to check many boxes, ensuring the application meets all stipulations, contains the right information and gets submitted on time.

To perform these tasks, many grant writers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field like English or communications. Smaller organizations might combine grant writing duties with a grant manager or communications director position.

Although some organizations use the terms “grant writer” and “grant manager” interchangeably, they refer to slightly different functions of the grant management process. Ideally, the grant manager handles logistics, leaving the writer to focus completely on their creativity, research and persuasion.

What Are the Roles in Grant Management for Research?

If you work in research, grant management roles may look a little different. The lead researcher is often the principal investigator, who functions similarly to the grant manager. This person focuses on overall management throughout the grand program. A grant administrator or project manager might also support day-to-day tasks, like coordinating activities, timelines and budgets.

Educational and health institutions can have many departments and groups contributing to grant management. For example, you may have a financial officer and a compliance officer to help in these areas.

Departmental support can also come from individuals such as deans, chairs and directors. These individuals can help ensure the grant aligns with the department’s mission, verify resource availability and approve cost sharing or matching.

How Different Organizations Structure Grant Management Roles

How Different Organizations Structure Grant Management Roles

All of these roles in grant management drive the process along, but each organization is different. Small organizations, for example, often consolidate several of these roles into one. Workflows can also vary widely. Some organizations will have team members dedicated to specific tasks, such as evaluators to gauge the efficacy and impact of grant-funded programs, or compliance specialists to focus on adherence to regulations. Communications or public relationships teams could get involved in creating materials for grant management.

Additionally, one organization could have people performing grant management roles on opposite sides of the process — the organization applies for and awards grants. This situation usually occurs with pass-through grants. An organization receives funds from another and then awards the funds to other grant seekers. The federal government, for example, often provides funds to individual states to distribute to local organizations. In these situations, the state government team functions as both the grant seeker and the grantmaker, with professionals managing different parts of the process.

Whatever this team looks like, proper workflows and processes are crucial to the success of grants. Both grant seekers and grantmakers must coordinate communications, approvals, submissions and other everyday tasks between these grant management roles.

What Tools Do Grant Management Professionals Use?

Grant management teams use many tools to succeed, such as training materials for the staff and databases for researching potential partners. Software is one of the most important resources in the grant management process. A dedicated platform helps ensure a smooth and compliant process while mitigating the challenges of this unique environment and streamlining workflows.

Grantors and grantees can use grant management software to:

  • Communicate: These diverse roles can more easily connect and track correspondences from all team members.
  • Centralize information: Staying on the same page becomes challenging if each of these grant professionals uses various programs and saves data in different places. A centralized program ensures visibility at every stage, preventing information from falling through the cracks.
  • Track data and activities: Easy logging means the organization is audit-ready at any time and can quickly create detailed reports or see who last worked on a file.
  • Streamline workflows: Defined workflows and automation capabilities facilitate data flow along the grant management process. Grant teams can save considerable time, leaving more resources available to earn more funding and support the organization’s mission.
  • Integrate other resources: A grant management program can integrate other resources used in the process, like validation tools, to create an all-in-one solution.

With better grant management infrastructure, these teams strengthen partnerships and make more progress toward mutual goals. Grantors can use it to reduce administrative requirements for grantees, helping them dedicate more time to a successful project. Similarly, grantees use software to streamline processes and earn more funding.

However these grant management roles are structured, software is essential for optimizing the process.

Connect Grant Management Teams With IntelliGrants® IGX

Connect Grant Management Teams With IntelliGrants® IGX

The grant management process relies on various professionals, each with unique perspectives and contributions. Effective coordination between them can help organizations unlock more funding, reduce administrative burdens and further their missions.

We support these professionals with IntelliGrants® IGX, a powerful software solution with features across the grant lifecycle. Grantors and grantees leverage the platform’s diverse set of tools and highly configurable workflows to streamline processes and meet even the most demanding requirements.

Book your demo today to see IntelliGrants® IGX in action and learn why so many organizations trust us to support their funding efforts.

Sign up to Our Newsletter to Receive the Latest Updates on Our Products.