4 Keys for Successful Grant Management

Key to Successful Grant Management

This past week we welcomed Jane Hexter, aka @GrantsChampion, as our guest on Grantchat for our 6th part in our 8 part series covering the 8 competency categories evaluated and examined by the Grant Professional Certification Institute.  Jane also covered this topic in our recent Grant Professional links ‘party’ where five GPCs wrote a series of short articles about the 8 competency categories to coincide with our weekly grantchats. You can find Jane’s article on Grant Management here.

What is Grant Management?

Successful grant management starts long before the grant is awarded.  Effective grant design, strategic planning and program development are essential elements for successful grants management.

As Jane explains in her post:  “The GPCI doesn’t require you have to be an expert in grant management but you do have to know enough a) not be dangerous, and b) when you are out of your depth. If you design a federal or state budget without knowing the OMB circulars or cost principles that it is governed by you could make a very expensive error that could hold you up by months or force you hire someone at a salary range you didn’t anticipate.”

Resources  to Keep Up with Changes to Grants Management

#Grantchat -ers know trends and best practices – and they are the best to learn from ~ @nonprofitbecky

The Grantchat community members recommended these resources for staying up to date with grant management trends and best practices:

  • #Grantchat (Thank you – and we have to agree that this community shares and knows trends and best practices concerning grants)
  • OMB Circulars
  • Grant Professionals Association and GPA Chapters
  • National Grants Management Association
  • Management Concepts
  • Thompson Publishing
  • Many blogs/white papers/reports from Grant Management Software companies
  • Many twitter/social media accounts, newsletters and blogs from grant consultants
  • Grantor webinars and training
  • Glass Pockets
  • Foundation Center and Grant Space
  • State Legislation

 

Four Keys for Successful Grant Management

  1. Regulatory Compliance
  2. Best Practices
  3. Roles and Responsibilities
  4. Included in Implementation to Close Out

 1) Regulatory Compliance

Essential to successful grant management is an understanding of and adherance to the regulations covering grant management. This is one area that is currently in a rapid evolution.

Regulatory compliance starts with federal guides for Cost Principles and Auditing  from the Office of Budget and Management which subsequently impacts state and other local government grants and sets models of best practices for foundation and other private grantors.  For more information on changes here is a presentation that will give you great background information on grants management requirements and why the changes are happening and here is a post about federal grant reform and the DATA act. Keep in mind that there are still different cost principles for different types of organizations, i.e. universities vs. hospitals, even while there are efforts to create uniform guidance and regulations.

Our #Grantchat guest, Jane Hexter, succinctly described cost principles this way:

They are the regulations that define how federal grant money can be spent and they vary by type of recipient organization. ~ @GrantsChampion

2) Best Practices

For best practices for successful grants management Jane recommends this brief checklist of what you need to have in place  – all of these must meet federal standards when applying for and managing federal funds.  Even if you are not seeking federal funds, implementing these systems, policies and practices are essential items to consider and implement for success with any type of grant management.

  • Accounting internal controls
  • Cash Management that meets standards in the Cash Management Improvement Act
  • Budget Controls
  • Records Retention Policy
  • Procurement system and internal controls
  • Personnel System that complies with all laws and regulations
  • Time keeping system
  • Property Management System
  • Travel policy
  • Auditing policies and procedures that meet standards in A-133

Many grantchatters also recommend creating a budget narrative for the grant, whether it is required or not, to clearly articulate costs and investments and to have available for the grant implementation and work plan development phase once funds are awarded.

3) Roles and Responsibilities 

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities can mean the difference between successful grants management and losing your grant funding.

Grants management is not limited to a program manager or limited to your financial office. Grants management is a system, a process with many levels. Grants management is certainly a part of your financial department’s responsibility – it is also part of the board’s work, the project manager’s and your grant professional’s responsibility. In addition, your partners and sub-grantees are responsible for grants management. Ensuring that you and your partners have budget and project management assignments, strong fiscal systems and controls and that each party understands and adheres to relevant laws are all part of grants management success.

4) Implementation to Close Out

Successful grant management starts with the end in mind.  Grant management starts when we design a potential project in our strategic planning phase and is included as we move to grant seeking and then from the time we are awarded the grant to the final grant close out report.

We always build with the report/measure/management in mind first. If we can’t report well, we don’t pursue. @nonprofitbecky

 

It is critical during budget design phase to have  someone who knows the regulations participate in grant budget development. Mistakes in this area can be really costly later. ~ @grantschampion

 

Pre-planning and training to ensure all understand regulations before jumping in to program & budget design. @DianeHLeonard

 

Yes, grant management is complicated. There are a thousand regulations and requirements – particuarly with government grants. Failing to understand and comply with these regulations has resulted in funds being cut and worse – legal restitution of grant funds. If you are not familiar with grant management requirements and best practices we highly recommend that you find a Grant Professional Certified who can help you.

How do you keep up with grant management trends and best practices? What resources do your recommend? We would love to hear your suggestions and comments!

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