Solid Management Builds Trust

December 5, 2017       THE NONPROFIT TIMES      

The rules and regulations that control the management of federal grants can feel like a sledgehammer poised to fall. The playbook for managing grants from foundations and corporations isn’t nearly as burdensome, but handling grants from private funders also requires diligence and attention.

“It’s easy to think of good grants management as simply staying out of trouble,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “But, it’s more than that. Top-quality grant management supports program effectiveness and builds trust with funders.”

If you’re new to managing federal grants, educate yourself. Read related instructions from the agency that provided the funding. Study the Uniform Guidance from the federal Office of Management and Budget. Call federal contacts with questions. Talk to experienced colleagues, and take a training. Realize that when you handle federal grants according to the rules, you’ll be operating in a well-organized, well documented, and methodical manner. Sure, you’ll stay out of trouble with the feds, but the grant-funded program your organization is implementing will benefit in other ways as well.

Solid records contribute to timely, thorough, and accurate financial and programmatic reporting. Written policies and procedures that conform to federal demands eliminate gray areas — all you have to do is follow the instructions. Some private funders don’t provide instructions.

“In that case, provide periodic financial and program reports even if the funders don’t require them,” said Floersch. “Reporting helps you keep the program on track, and keeps the funder updated.”

Invite foundation program officers to program events or periodic briefings. If you have a question, call the funder and ask. If there’s a problem, keep the funder informed and ask for advice or permission to make course corrections. By keeping funders informed and demonstrating attention to solid management, you’ll be laying the groundwork for an ongoing partnership. You’ll be building the precious commodity of trust.

“Being diligent, proactive, and transparent in grants management pays big dividends,” said Floersch. © Copyright 2017 The Grantsmanship Center.