Whether new to fundraising or having a lot of experience, you may wonder about the best way to plan for what happens after your organization receives a grant. Grant Management, also called the post-award phase, is the process of managing a grant award. Grant Management is very different than grant writing. Led by a Grant Writer, grant writing focuses on how to bring in revenue. Led by a Grant Manager, grant management focuses on how your organization manages, spends, and tracks the grant money.
In this article, we will discuss the four distinct phases of grant management, which are 1) Grant Award Notification, 2) Grant Award Acceptance, 3) Grant Award Implementation, and 4) Grant Award Closeout.
1) What is the Grant Award Notification Phase?
The Grant Award Notification begins when a grant applicant, your organization, receives a "Notice of Award" from a Grantmaker. The Notice of Award is an email or a letter that outlines how much money the organization will receive and the next steps.
A best practice is to create an email address that will always be in use, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. You also want to ensure that you have a stable mailing address. PO Boxes can be handy if your organization still needs a physical address. We also recommend that you send a thank you letter to the grantor.
2) What is the Grant Award Acceptance Phase?
After sending you the Notice of Award, the grantmaker will send your organization a "Grant Agreement ." If you have ever received a grant and wondered, "Can we spend money on this?" it is usually outlined in the grant agreement. The grant agreement is a legal contract. It outlines the terms and conditions of accepting the grant, such as the "period of performance" (POP), when grant reports are due, the grant amount, and the disbursement of funds. The funder will want your organization to accept and sign the Grant Agreement.
Accepting a Grant Agreement may be a straightforward process for a small organization. On the other hand, the process may be complex for government agencies, and universities may have to involve multiple offices in the approval process.
First, the grant manager must read the grant application and compare it to the grant agreement. I suggest that you outline any terms you do not understand. If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the grant funder. For example, they may have reduced the amount of funding you will receive. You should submit an amended budget and adjust your goals and objectives in this case.
On the other hand, something may have changed in your organization, like a change in the project's direction. Likewise, you will want to share that information with the funder and amend your Project Activities. 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 accept the grant, it is a best practice to notify your Board of the award at its next meeting. For more significant gifts, including those from the federal government, I recommend that your Board of Directors adopt a resolution accepting the Grant Agreement. Again, nothing fancy is necessary; you can use the same language you usually include in your Board Resolutions. Just be sure to include the name of the grant funder, the grant amount, and the POP.
Once your organization is satisfied with the terms of the grant, it is time to sign. Your organization's authorizing official, usually the Board President or the Executive Director, will approve the Grant Agreement. The Grantmaker will also sign.
3) What is the Grant Award Implementation Phase?
The Grant Award Implementation phase refers to the grant's period of performance or POP. The POP is the start and end dates for the grant activities. During this time, you should devise a process for collecting information about the grant activities and expenses. There are low-cost options. For instance, you can use spreadsheets to track money and receipts. However, we recommend utilizing a grant management system, such as eCivis for government entities or GEMS and Instrumentl for nonprofits. In coordination with your organization's Chief Financial Officer or another financial leader, I advise that the grant manager keep track of the grant money.
Your organization will update the grants' progress once a year, twice a year, or quarterly. In addition, the funder will assign a person from their team, the Program Officer, to monitor your funding. If you have any questions about eligible activities or reports, this is the person to contact.
If you would like to change the terms of your grant, like extending the POP, first, refer to the Grant Agreement on handling these requests. Then reach out to the Program Officer before making any changes. Going against the Grant Agreement before you get permission could cause the Grantmaker to not work with you in the future or even ask you to pay the money back.
4) What is Grant Award Closeout?
The Grant Award Closeout Phase begins after you complete the grant activities and spend all the grant funds. Grant Closeout includes creating and submitting final reports. Your organization may still receive payments from the funder during this time for reimbursable grants. Reimbursable grants, frequently given out by the Federal government, are grants where you pay for the expenses and then submit your receipts to the government.
A Federal Agency may audit the spending during the Grant Award Closeout Phase. For this reason, your organization needs to keep a detailed account of completed activities, outcomes, and project expenses.
Once your organization and the funder satisfactorily complete the reporting and financial obligations, the grant is "closed out ."The Grant Manager and your CFO will be involved in submitting documents to the funder during Grant Closeout.
What should you do now that you know the four phases of grant management: 1) Grant Award Notification, 2) Grant Award Acceptance, 3) Grant Award Implementation, and 4) Grant Award Closeout? First, you should get together with your team and assign someone the role of grant manager. Who should take the lead? I suggest someone detail-oriented, organized, and analytical. Next, create your grant management strategy, starting with your Grant Award Acceptance process.
How to Get Help with Grant Management
SGR focuses on helping healthcare and public health organizations seek and secure grants- the pre-grant award activities. But we know that having a solid grant management plan 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, Does a Grant Writer Manage the Grant?