Find the Funding: Grant Management Best Practices

By Peter Gamache, Ph.D. & Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS, Turnaround Life, Inc.

Grant management may seem intimidating and complicated—and it does require careful preparation and execution. Poor grant management is one of the fastest ways to damage a reputation with a funder and ensure you lose those necessary dollars.

Here are grant management best practices to help you find and keep the funding!

Connect your grant writer and finance professional

Oftentimes, the team who asks for the grant is different from the team who manages the money when it comes in. Most grant proposals demand a budget, so you want to include the finance department from the beginning—and then they’ll pay an important role in the grant’s management and reporting.

When budgeting for grants, you’re thinking about many “what if” scenarios. (What happens if we get the grant? Can we successfully monitor and manage it over time?) It’s important for the grant writer to work together with the finance department with the proposal from the start. This will give you an idea if the potential grant is something your organization and the team responsible will be able to manage in a sustainable way.

Have a fundraising strategy

It’s important to understand how long you will have the funding available. If your organization asked for a one-year grant, what are the odds that it will be renewed for at least a few more years?

If it probably won’t be renewed, is your development team ready to get donor support to continue funding this program?

Write guiding policies and procedures

The development of internal policies and procedures, including the job description of the grant manager, provides staff with instructions for keeping centralized control of all grant activities, such as submission of grant applications and maintaining contact with potential funders. The grant manager is the primary person designated as a contact for issues that involve grants. Team members should submit grant materials to the manager for review to make sure that these submissions are professional, complete and include all the necessary signatures. Your nonprofit can prepare the staff for adoption of these procedures by organizing a training.

Be meticulous about record-keeping

Your nonprofit should use a database to record and keep track of all contact with foundations.

Your grant calendar can consist of a wall calendar or a whiteboard, a shared Google calendar, spreadsheets or—ideally—a grant management solution, such as GrantHub, that ties it all together. Whatever you choose, be sure you meet the following criteria:

  • Everyone is aware of upcoming deadlines.
  • Everyone on the team can see their upcoming due dates and easily access documents.
  • Task owners receive reminders when due dates are coming.
  • New opportunities are added to the calendar.
  • Recurring funding opportunities are reflected in your future plans.
  • Everyone can see at a glance where your grant is in its lifecycle: application, approval, award, progress, evaluation and results.

Internally report on your progress periodically

Be prepared to put together summary reports that can communicate to your board and leadership the current progress and status of your grant-seeking efforts. This only takes a few clicks with the right software, but you can also set up spreadsheet templates for tracking and reporting.

Identify and track metrics to drive grant performance

Once you start reporting on relevant metrics, you can fine-tune your process, making it more consistent and timely in tracking the information needed.

Here at Turnaround Life, Inc., we aim to help organizations and programs that make it possible for people to turn their lives around. For more information about us, visit our website.

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