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The world of grants management can be overwhelming at first glance, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we’ll break down the process of grants management by looking at the nuts and bolts that make up the system. When you have a clear understanding of exactly what goes into the process—as well as tried and true suggestions from those in the field-–it’s easier to achieve your goals.
Let’s start with the basics.
What exactly is a grant? A grant refers to funds awarded to an applicant for a specific purpose or project. These funds are provided by organizations or government agencies after careful review and selection. They are not meant to be repaid. They are, however, meant to be tracked and generally come with requirements for reporting on their use and impact.
What is grants management? Grants management is the process of overseeing a grant throughout its entire lifecycle. It applies to both grantmakers (those who award funds) and grantseekers (those who apply for funds). The lifecycle of a grant begins with program setup and moves on to application intake and review, decision-making and awarding of funds, and finally, post-award assessment. We’ll take a deeper dive into the lifecycle of a grant below, but first, let’s review the types of grants.
There are four main types of grant funding:
Grantseekers can be understood as those seeking funding for projects via grants. They may apply for competitive grants, continuation grants, and pass-through grants, depending on their eligibility and how their focus area matches the specifications of the grant opportunity. Grantseekers may be state, county, or local government agencies, nonprofits, educational institutions, research organizations, businesses, or individuals.
Grantmakers, or grantors, are those who design and administer the grant. They set the parameters for a funding program, accept and review applications, make decisions regarding awards, disburse funds, and evaluate outcomes. They may be government agencies, nonprofits, and educational institutions such as colleges and universities, corporations and corporate foundations, or professional associations.
The lifecycle of a grant encompasses the entire process of grantmaking, from the initial idea for the grant opportunity all the way through the assessment of its impact after it has been awarded and put to use. It can be broken down into three primary phases:
It can be challenging to prioritize the many moving pieces of the grant management process simultaneously. Before they offer a grant opportunity, grantmakers must clearly design the parameters of their grant program, review compliance requirements, integrate data and reporting obligations, and ensure equity is built into their application and review process.
Once the award is given, it is important to streamline processes and maximize organizational efficiency so that data and reporting can be prioritized. This will pave the way for funding requirements to be met in the award phase and for performance metrics to be analyzed in the post-award phase so that impact can be demonstrated.
Juggling the requirements of all stakeholders, while also keeping track of key milestones and reporting dates—and potentially running multiple grants at the same time—can be daunting.
To set you up for success, we have compiled a list of five best practices to effectively navigate common challenges specific to grant management:
Because there are many moving pieces and competing priorities in the lifecycle of a grant, it’s advantageous to identify and employ tools that can streamline your processes. Grants management software helps solve many of the challenges listed above and can be instrumental in implementing best practices.
A comprehensive grants management software program aids in the entire lifecyle of the grant, from application submission through post-award reporting and even financial management.
Utilizing a well-organized, automated process, can assist you in multiple ways, including:
While grants management is a complex process, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With an understanding of each component, as well as tried and true advice for how best to navigate potential challenges, you can stay ahead of the curve. To increase the ease with which you move through the process, consider using a robust grants management platform like Zengine by WizeHive. Doing so will streamline your workload, freeing you up to focus more of your attention on impact and future program design.
To learn more about how we can help support your grantmaking process, schedule a time to speak with our team.