The first thing the executive director should do when a grant award lands is pull out the proposal that was submitted and study it. The proposal obligates your organization to a plan of action, but in the fast-paced world of program start-up it’s all too easy to tear off in the wrong direction.
According to Barbara Floersch, director of the The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif., don’t let staff out of the starting gate until they’ve mapped a course that syncs with the proposal and put some basic fail-safe measures in place to keep things on track.
After studying the proposal, Floersch said that the program’s leadership staff should be asked to do several things. They include:
- Read the proposal’s narrative. They must engage with the purpose and design of the program and understand the requirements.
- Put together a synopsis to share with others working on the program. At a minimum, the synopsis should lay out the activities to be implemented, purpose of the activities, outcomes the activities should produce and roles of partner organizations.
- Construct a detailed timeline for program implementation that includes: Information sharing and engagement with partner organizations and contractors, administrative start-up tasks (e.g., hiring, establishing accounting codes), planning and implementation of activities evaluation tasks for documenting benchmarks and assessing outcomes, preparation and submission of programmatic and financial reports, regularly scheduled full-staff program meetings to assess progress and address challenges and assignment of responsibility for each task on the timeline
- Meet with the organization’s financial manager to review the program budget, address questions, and confirm mutual understanding of financial processes and budget oversight responsibilities.
According to Floersch, the synopsis, timeline, and budget meeting will guide staff as they bring the program to life and will also provide vital supervision tools. The weekly or biweekly supervision sessions will nip problems in the bud and allow for well-informed course corrections if needed.