As one of the primary sources of funding for many nonprofit organizations, a specific management strategy surrounding grants is critical to maintaining efficient and compliant operations. The best grant management programs involve a holistic approach that involves each aspect of your organization and utilizes the expertise across each team.
From proposal development to final execution and reporting, development, finance, program, and other teams should all coordinate their efforts in order to guarantee an efficient grant project. This means aligning each team’s expertise with a project’s goals and expectations from the very beginning.
This process involves developing the project proposal, identifying key activities, and outlining desired outcomes. By working closely with the finance department, the proposal’s budget can align with the goals of the future project. This unified effort also helps to ensure that all teams are familiar and comfortable with all project goals, timelines, and eventual reporting requirements.
Once a grant has been awarded and the program actually starts, teams should continue to work together. This way, should any part of the project need a timeline extension or budget modification, no team will be thrown off guard.
It is important to ensure all parts of the proposal are aligned with your existing accounting processes. For example, itemizing expenses in the proposal in such a way that they cannot be tracked in your current accounting system is a recipe for noncompliance or failure right from the start.
Tracking correspondence, documents, and deliverables throughout the process in an organized way will help mitigate time-wasting and labor-intensive manual work whenever it is required. Depending on the length of the entire project, your organization may experience staffing changes. If the project is not organized well, it will be difficult and time-consuming to get new staff up to speed.
What is the scope of the project being proposed? If the project will involve hiring new staff or working with third parties, the grant proposal must align the budget with those needs. Put another way, an unrealistic proposal is unlikely to be approved and funded, so it is important that all factors are aligned.
It is also important to keep in mind other commitments your organization has already made. If a proposed unrealistic project were to be approved, imagine how it could negatively impact other parts of the organization—specifically deliverables to stakeholders.
It is appropriate to communicate with the funder if timelines or budget issues arise. They are funding the project and should be part of the conversation whenever issues arise. This will not only help resolve problems, but the fact is that they deserve to know.
Internally, finance and development teams must keep in regular communication if the project is going to succeed. Maintaining accurate budgets and understanding programmatic work is only possible when transparency is made a priority.
When the grant process is well developed and managed effectively, a nonprofit is subject to far less risk, wasted time, and, of course, well-funded projects. Keep these factors in mind, and don’t hesitate to reach out to nonprofit accounting experts like those at Rubino when developing your next grant proposal.