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Do Grant Writers Manage the Grant?

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

A Grant Writer may sometimes manage a grant, but a Grant Manager usually handles this. A Grant Manager is a person on your team focused on how your organization manages, spends, and tracks grant money, a process called grant management. Most of a Grant Manager's work will begin "post-award" after receiving a grant award notification. This article will outline the role of the Grant Manager in the four phases of grant management: 1) Grant Award Notification, 2) Grant Award Acceptance, 3) Grant Award Implementation, and 4) Grant Award Closeout.

1) What Does a Grant Manager do during Grant Award Notification?

The Grant Award Notification begins when a grant applicant, your organization, receives a "Notice of Award" from a Grantmaker. The Notice of Award may outline how much money your organization will receive and discuss the next steps.

The Grant Manager will draft a "Thank You" email or letter from your organization's leadership to send to the Grantmaker. At this time, it is also helpful for the Grant Writer to meet with the Grant Manager to discuss the grant requirements. However, the process is smoothest when the grant manager is involved in the grant writing process.

2) What Does a Grant Manager do during Grant Award Acceptance?

After sending you the Notice of Award, the Grantmaker will send your organization a "Grant Agreement." The grant agreement is a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of accepting the funding. If you accept the contract, your Executive Director and the Grantmaker will usually sign.

Before signing the grant agreement, your organization should, of course, understand what it says. So, the first step is for the Grant Manager to compare the grant application you submitted to the contract sent by the Grantmaker. If there are questions, the Grant Manager and the Executive Director should contact the person assigned to monitor your grant. This person is usually called the "Program Officer."

Suppose you request amendments to your grant application, for example. If the funder is giving less money than you asked for, the Grant Manager and the Grant Writer should work together to update the application. If your organization finds that it does not like the terms of the Grant Agreement, you will need to decide if it is better to keep the grant or decline the award.

If you decide to keep the grant, the next step is to notify your Governing Body, most likely the Board of Directors if you are a nonprofit, at its next meeting. The Grant Writer can take the lead in explaining the specific project activities, and the Grant Manager will explain the terms of the grant agreement.

Once the Grant Agreement is signed, the Grant Manager will store the Grant Agreement in a safe location or database along with the Grant Application.

3) What Does a Grant Manager do during Grant Award Implementation?

Grant Award Implementation refers to the grant's period of performance or POP. The POP is the start and end dates for the grant activities. The Grant Manager is a leader during Grant Award Implementation and is responsible for knowing the rules around using the grant funds. For example, for Federal grants, there is a policy book called the Uniform Guidance; your grant manager should become familiar with this document.

The Grant Manager will also create or maintain the systems that collect information about the grant activities. For example, some organizations use simple spreadsheets, while others use cloud-based grant management systems. What you choose will depend on your needs, and the Grant Manager can take the lead in selecting the best solution.

The Grant Manager will need time to work closely with your project leaders to keep track of the grant outcomes. The project leaders are the people on your team who will do or lead the grant-funded activities. In coordination with your organization's Chief Financial Officer or another financial leader, the grant manager should also keep track of the grant money, a process called “spend-down”.

Finally, your Grant Manager will work closely with the Grantmaker's Program Officer. More prominent grant makers often assign a person to oversee your grant. This person will ensure your organization is spending the money correctly and that you submit performance and financial reports.

The Grant Manager will compile and submit grant reports to the Program Officer by the due date. If your organization wants to change the grant terms, the Grant Manager will work to resolve these issues. The Grant Manager will review the Grant Agreement and then communicate with the Program Officer.

4) What Does a Grant Manager do during Grant Award Closeout?

The Grant Award Closeout Phase begins when the grant activities finish. Grant Closeout includes creating and submitting final reports. The Grant Manager and your CFO will be involved in submitting documents to the funder during Grant Closeout.

A Federal Agency may audit your organization’s spending during the Grant Award Closeout. For this reason, the Grant Manager needs to keep a detailed account of completed activities, outcomes, and project expenses. The grant is "closed out" once all reporting and financial obligations are complete. The Grant Manager will maintain the records.

How Can I Hire a Grant Manager?

Many smaller organizations will have one person for grant writing and management. However, it would be unwise for organizations to manage more than 15 grants without a designated Grant Manager. Why? The Grant Writer brings money into your organization; a Grant Manager manages and tracks funding. The most successful organizations have a person designated to each role. The team members will collaborate and may work well to cross-train the positions.

The type of Grant manager you need will depend on the grants you have secured. If you have corporate, state, and foundation grants, you may be able to assign the role of grant manager to someone on your current team. However, if you are managing Federal Grants, I recommend you hire someone with previous experience who understands the Uniform Guidance, the federal government's grants guidance. Whoever you choose, select a detail-oriented, organized, and analytical person.

How to find a Grant Manager?

SGR focuses on helping healthcare, and public health organizations seek and secure grants- the pre-grant award activities. But we know that having an experienced Grant Manager is essential for success once we help you get the funding. Therefore, you should contact the National Grant Management Association to find a consultant. You may also be interested in our article "What to do after I get a grant?"

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