We work with a large children’s agency that has run into grant problems in the past. They’d like to apply to a large foundation, but are worried that the foundation will turn them down; two years ago they received funds from this foundation, but failed to report back to on how the funds were used. Another nonprofit that we work with failed to write a thank-you note on a $10,000 grant they received last year; needless to say, the funder was not pleased with their failure to show appreciation for the funds. These are just a few of the stories I hear repeatedly from organizations that are excited when they receive the grant, but don’t have the systems and procedures in place to manage it.
Managing grant dollars is one of the weakest links in the grant process chain. Development directors and executive directors tend to have an organized process in terms of researching and developing a grant proposal. But frequently, that is where their organized process stops. Unfortunately, the inability of nonprofits to manage grant funds is the single most important reason why a funder may not fund them in the second or third year.
Richard Male & Associates helps organizations set up successful grant management systems to help assure adequate follow-up with funding sources. Here are some simple tips to help you in the process:
- Set up a tickler in Microsoft Outlook that warns you six weeks prior to when you need to get your progress report or a new proposal to the funder. Set up additional ticklers each successive week.
- Write a hard-copy list of monthly phone calls to make, follow-up letters to write, and proposals to develop. Tape this list to your desk.
- Process and evaluate reports. This is critical to your grant management process. If the funding source wants quarterly, semi-annual, or yearly progress reports make sure they receive them.
- Throughout the year save photos, articles, and quotes that pertain to your program or organization and mail them to the funding source.
- Quarterly contact is good. Try to have quarterly contact with the funding source even if you just write them a note or e-mail message. This will assure that you are on their radar screen.
- Make sure you have a yearly calendar in both electronic and hard copy. Pin this calendar to your wall and make changes whenever appropriate. Include such things as: proposal due dates, evaluation report deadlines, follow-up phone calls or letters, scheduled interviews and appointments, etc.
- Create a file for each funding source and every time you correspond with them put information on that correspondence in the file. Also keep track of newspaper articles in which the funder is mentioned, the program officer’s birthday, etc.
- Make sure you track the expenses accurately by department or program. Stay on top of the financial reporting requirements. And if you need to change or adjust the way you are using the funds contact the funding source first to ask for permission.
- Review the expenses monthly and track the expenses against your budget.
- At least 60 days before the end of your grant cycle ASK the funder if they will allow you to submit a new proposal for the next cycle.