By Tammy Tilzey
Grant management is often overlooked and
underappreciated. But if you’ve ever had to work in an organization where no
thought or resources were given to tracking and managing the grant fundraising
efforts, you quickly realize that it is a necessary discipline to keep things
running smoothly and efficiently. Using effective grant management in your
organization is like putting oil into your car – it keeps everything running
Also - if you are looking to improve results from your
grantseeking efforts, it may surprise you that the answer is not always in finding
more funders or filling out more applications. The answer may be to
"sharpen your saw" and improve your grant management process. Think
of it this way – how much time could you and your organization spend on
higher-return activities if you could eliminate time-consuming administrative
tasks like these:
- Following up with and reminding team members of
their grant related assignments and when they are due
- Remembering the proposal deadlines, and when
your grant reports are due
- Searching through previous grant applications
for elements you want to reuse in another grant proposal, or gathering all the
necessary supporting documents
- Preparing summary reports for your management
team on grant funding status
Below are 5 suggestions that will help you improve your
grant process and help you focus your precious time on other, more impactful
- Create a grant tracking list / calendar that is
easy to keep up to date, and available to the entire team.
- Organize your funders, record important communications,
and track your grant history.
- Coordinate your grant team's responsibilities to
stay on schedule and know what is coming up next.
- Assemble a library of common answers and
- Track your progress and produce regular status
1.Create a Grant Tracking List / Calendar
A grant calendar can help you and your organization keep
on track. It should remind you of your funder’s proposal deadlines and help you
submit your grant reports on time.
There are many ways to track
your grants. Your grant calendar may consist of a white board or wall calendar,
a shared Outlook or Google calendar, a task management system, spreadsheets, or
ideally – a grant management solution, like GrantHub, that
ties all these pieces into one cohesive system. Whatever you use, you should
strive to meet the following criteria:
- Everyone has
visibility to upcoming deadlines.
- Task owners receive
reminders when items are coming due.
- Everyone on the grant
team can see their upcoming deadlines and easily access grant documents.
- You have a process to continually
add new opportunities to your calendar.
- Recurring funding
opportunities are always reflected in your future plan.
- The system seamlessly facilitates the
communication of your grant plan, progress, and results.
At the start of your grant efforts, you may be just fine
using a manual process and applications you already have on hand. But if you
start receiving more grants, you may soon find that you are spending more time
maintaining your solution and having less time available to focus on building
relationships with funders and engaging in other fundraising activities. Be
sure you reassess your grant management needs and tools at regular intervals so
it can grow with you.
2. Organize Your Funders and Grant History
Tracking key information about the funders you work with
is a good practice. Often this information resides at best in someone’s email
folders or, at worst, in their head. This puts your organization’s fundraising
capabilities at risk. It is vitally important that you document key contact information,
past results, and funding priorities, and make it accessible to those who need
the information. In our research of funders and grantseekers – we found that
these items were most important to track:
Funder name, website link & other key contact info, link to their
990’s, EIN, areas they fund, typical funding range, funder type, their social
media links, notes of past conversations, and a list of your past grant history
Having quick access to details on your past, present, and
future grant requests is a key part of grant management. The ability to track
and access dates related to funding requests can make the difference between
having a sustainable grant practice and one in which you are constantly running
behind, apologizing for missing dates, and losing out on funding opportunities.
Our research found that it was helpful to track:
Grant name, status, funder, funder program, contact at the funder, who
wrote the grant, proposal / LOI deadlines, requested amount, targeted
program/restrictions, application method/details, date submitted, decision
date, amount awarded, grant term, notes about the grant and easy access to all
the grant documents associated with this grant.
3.Coordinate Your Grant Team Responsibilities while Staying on Schedule
management solution can keep you on track, highlight tasks that are falling
behind schedule, and remind team members of upcoming items that are coming due.
Being able to quickly see what is coming up in the next two weeks or quickly
see a high level view by month is critical to keeping the process running
solutions can be utilized to track important deadlines and send email reminders
of deadlines when they are approaching. This can be a great time saver for the
person who is organizing all the elements of a grant proposal and responsible
for the final submission. Spending less time reminding people and more time on
finding new funders, writing more powerful proposals, and nurturing
relationships with funders is a good tradeoff. If you don’t have a grant
management solution – then make sure you have an organized approach to tracking
all the requirements for a successful proposal and who is responsible. Spending
time upfront to identify everything that is needed and who is responsible helps
you weed out funders that you are not a great fit with – which saves you lots
of time if you catch that early in your process.
4. Assemble a Library of Boilerplates and Supporting Documents.
Spend time making sure you and
your organization is ‘grant-ready’. There are several grant
ready resources available. Find one that you like
and use it to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. It is estimated that
you can complete up to 80 percent of the effort to create a funding proposal
before you even know which funder you will be applying to. Having this work
done upfront helps you complete more applications in less time. And the time
saved can then be spent in higher value activities that will set your proposal
apart from others.
An answer library is a place
where you can collect important documents, templates, boilerplates and answers
to common questions. If it is online, everyone on your grant team can easily
locate, access, and use the best and most current information for their grant
work. What's in it for you? You don’t have to hunt to find past applications,
copy and paste, and risk sending something outdated to the wrong funder! And –
if everyone has access to the repository themselves, you can control the
content, but don’t have to be the bottleneck on distributing it to those who
also need these items.
Now when you sit down to write,
you will have all the ingredients easily accessible. Or, if you have an intern
or other supporting help, they can utilize these resources to compile a first
draft for you. An answer library can really help streamline the development and
writing of your proposals.
5. Internally report on your progress at key intervals.
You should also be prepared to
pull together summary reports that can effectively communicate to your
organization and Board the current status and progress of your grantseeking
efforts. Depending on the type of grant management solution you use, this can
take a few clicks—or potentially hours of time manipulating spreadsheets every time
you need to report.
Once you start reporting on particular
metrics, you can tune your grant tracking process to be more timely and
consistent in tracking the information needed to create those reports. A
question that is often asked – what types of grant status reports and metrics should
I start with? In our research on what metrics grantseekers would most often
wish to report on, we found that reporting on grants by status (planned, in-progress, pending, awarded, denied,
etc.) was the most common report. Other metrics and reports such as Grant Win
Percentage, Upcoming Grant Deadlines by Month, or Top Funders by Program
reports were also desired.
An excellent link to another blog post that discusses the
different types of metrics and reports that can help you build a sustainable
grant practice is found here: http://www.granthub.com/metrics-to-drive-grant-performance/
worry about grant management?
A grant management solution
helps you stay organized and prepared to answer questions like these:
When you are prepared,
organized, and have the data you need, you can be depended upon to provide your
organization with solid advice. Your system can also help you become recognized
as a knowledgeable grant professional, increasing the power of your recommendations.
An effective grant management process also helps show the results of your
efforts and investments, and support your need to make data-driven decisions.
If you want to get the best return on your grantseeking efforts, you will want
to use tools and processes that help save time and increase the amount of
funding you receive.
- What do we need to do
to increase the success rate of our grant efforts?
- If we had more money,
what investment (in people, tools, training, skills, consultants, etc.) would
we want to make?
- What is involved in
successful grantseeking, and why does it take time to do well?
- What would it take to
get our organization ready to apply to more funders?
Tilzey, Director of GrantHub