Engage Finance and HR in Grant Proposal Development
nonprofit management tips

When developing grants proposals, the tasks to be completed and expertise required are varied. It’s not a one-person job. “Grant development teams often include topic area experts, those who will benefit from the program, evaluators, and community collaborators,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

“But staff members from the applicant organization’s finance and human resources (HR) departments are often missing from the team. That’s a mistake. You’ve got to have people onboard who understand the numbers,” she said.

Developing a program plan, hammering out the budget, and then running the final numbers by the finance and HR departments is a slip-shod approach that’s bound to cause trouble. Without budgeting expertise, it’s easy to over or under estimate expenses, leave out important line items, or fail to adequately address indirect costs. And when personnel costs are included in the budget, it takes a high-level understanding of your organization’s salary and fringe benefit policies to make sure the numbers are correct.

Involving the finance and HR departments in grant development has other benefits as well. When proposals are funded, those departments are already on board with the work. They’re comfortable with the numbers, know how the money will be spent, and speak the same language as those implementing the program.

With financial and HR expertise on the proposal development team, you’re more likely to end up with an accurate budget that is adequate to support the planned work. The final spreadsheet calculations are more likely to be correct and the budget justification is more likely to be thorough and convincing. “Developing and submitting grant proposals is demanding work,” said Floersch. “No one needs the added drama and stress of a last-minute crisis because the budget is wrong. Plan the budget as you plan the program and involve the right people from the beginning.” © Copyright 2016, The Grantsmanship Center.