To cultivate vigorous grant funding and steer clear of nasty non-compliance problems, executive directors must understand the basics of pre- and post-award work and monitor grant-related data regularly.
In an article, “What the Executive Director Must Know about Grant Administration,” Henry Flood, senior grant management advisor at the Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, provides practical tools for assessing grant acquisition and management functions, including nine questions every executive director should ask.
- Is the organization applying for all appropriate grant opportunities? If not, why?
- What proposals have been submitted? To what funders? In what amounts? For what purposes?
- How successful are the organization’s proposals overall? What percentage have resulted in grant awards? What percentage of requested funding was awarded?
- What’s the status of each proposal? When was it submitted? When was it denied or approved? If successful, was it fully funded? If pending, when is word expected?
- What’s the status of each active grant? What are the basics of the award? What is the status of major grant life-cycle events (i.e., budget adjustments, time extensions, report submissions)?
- Is grant spending on track, and are expenditures appropriate? A review of each grant’s monthly accounting statement will tell you.
- Is program delivery on track? Progress reports will alert the ED to problems.
- Is the program achieving intended results? Evaluation reports help EDs identify needed course corrections.
- Are grant funds accounted for appropriately? The organization’s annual financial audit is an essential monitoring tool.
Sometimes senior staff monitor the process and report to the executive director, but in small nonprofits the executive director does it all. Either way, Flood’s advice is the same, “Don’t let your grants work run on automatic pilot.”