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Manage Your Grants Successfully
1. Establish open lines of communication with your grantor(s)
- Always communicate with your grantor through the established program officer.
- An introductory call with your grantor is important. Call to introduce yourself and have a preliminary discussion with your contact about your grant and its objectives.
- Use the time to discuss the best ways and times to communicate with them in the future regarding changes and updates.
- Regular communication with the grantor can be helpful. Communicate both your struggles and successes, and provide appropriate timely reporting to the grantor. However, be aware that funding sources vary widely in the amount of contact they want. Some like direct and ongoing communication; others do not encourage or desire any contact.
- If a grantor contacts you, respond in a timely fashion. Grantees who do not respond to communication from their grantor run the risk of potentially losing funding, the respect of the organization and disqualifying themselves for future funding from that organization.
- Discuss with your grantor any challenges you are dealing with before the end of your grant. It is never a good idea to submit a final report on a project that was not successful without having had prior discussion with the grantor about this.
2. Learn about your grantors policies and procedures
- Read and understand the funding contract and grant obligations. If possible, have a lawyer review it in a timely manner to ensure you can agree to the requirements.
- If the grantor has a policies and procedures manual, read it and ask the grantor to answer any questions you may have.
- Ask your grantor if there are specific reporting forms you should use and use them.
- Learn about timeframes for reporting, meetings, conference calls and any other recommended and required aspects of your award.
- Grantees who are regularly non-compliant run the risk of potentially losing funding, the respect of the organization and disqualifying themselves for future funding from that organization
3. Adhere to reporting requirements
- Be sure to find out and adhere to the reporting requirements of the grantor.
- Keep a calendar or schedule of grant reporting requirements. As you acquire more grants, they become more difficult to track, so develop a "tickler" system to ensure timely reporting and to track target dates or schedule of events.
- Do NOT ignore the grantor's timelines. The timelines established in your proposal and in the grantor's policies and procedures should be viewed as deadlines and contractual obligations, not as projections.
- Do not make significant changes to your timelines, outcomes, or budget without asking the grantor if they approve. Remember they decided to fund your project based on the proposal. If the project significantly changes (and without justification), the grantor may no longer want to continue funding.
- Many grantors are working with multiple grantees, so it is important to reach out to them to provide updates, ask questions or just stay involved. It is recommended that organizations send updates or materials from their grant outside of reporting requirements (unless specifically asked not to) to engage with the grantor and provide reminders of what you are doing. By highlighting program successes, you provide the grantor with a tangible reminder of whom and what you are. You also give them something to share with their board or constituents as an example of success.
- Consider inviting grantors to your events, send emails and photos of ongoing projects and participate in any grantor-related events, if possible, to build rapport and engage your grantor.
4. Be a responsible steward of funds
Remember that you are a steward of the money entrusted to you by your donors. Spend their funds wisely, efficiently and effectively.
- Consider if your purchases and business expenses would be questionable if examined by a donor.
- Have monthly or quarterly review meetings with the staff involved in the implementation of your grant. Make a schedule of activities with benchmarks and target dates.
- If the grantor offers regular conference calls, annual meetings, conferences or technical support services, take advantage of them. This shows that you are engaged in the process and are committed to making your program successful.
Keep in mind that no two funding sources are alike. Understand the complexity of the parameters of any and all grants you apply for and are granted in order to meet the needs of the grantor and your program's funding source.
Geofunders is a coalition of grant makers committed to building strong and effective non-profit organizations: www.geofunders.org