Winning the grant is just the beginning. Putting the program plan into action, managing the funds, and meeting the award requirements is a marathon-like test of your nonprofit’s competence.
“The money you bring in doesn’t matter if you don’t deliver the goods you promised in the grant proposal,” said Barbara Floersch, chief of training and curriculum of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles. “Be sure what you promise is within your nonprofit’s capacity, and then manage for excellence.”
- Pursuing excellence in grant management will move your nonprofit well beyond the stay-out-of-trouble mentality that’s so often associated with the work. Floersch identifies these four strategies as essential to an excellence-driven approach.
- Pull together a grant management team and identify the role and responsibilities of each member. Team composition will vary depending on the situation, but generally should include someone from finance, the program coordinator, and an administrator. If other organizations will be partnering with you in a substantial way, it’s best to have their representatives at the table as well
- Review the program plan, activity deliverables, and expected outcomes detailed in the grant proposal. “It’s a huge mistake to dive into program implementation without reviewing the grant proposal and charting the course from that,” said Floersch.
- Develop a grant management plan that will ensure accomplishment of program deliverables, compliance with award regulations, and monitoring of vital signs to keep the work on track. Include regular meetings of the grant management team with report-outs from members.
- Communicate. “The importance of communication as a best practice in grant management can’t be overstated,” said Floersch. “I advocate that a communication plan be part of every grant management plan.” Don’t limit communication to members of the grant management team. Reach out regularly to staff and board members, community partners, beneficiaries, and to the funder supporting the work.
Because staff turnover and the ongoing demands of running a nonprofit can derail the consistency of grants management, Floersch recommends systematizing your approach and including it in your organization’s policies and procedures. © Copyright 2019 The Grantsmanship Center.