Grant management is a necessary skill that most nonprofit organizations should master. It’s understandable to feel overloaded and crunched for time when managing incoming or outgoing grants along with everything else you do for your organization. But best practices such as using calendars, archives, consistent updates, and tracking systems make grant management more efficient.
Designate an organization-wide calendar just for managing your grants. Using one calendar that the whole team works on allows for greater accountability and efficient communication—everyone will be on the same page.
Whether it’s online or a physical one in the office, your grants calendar should include deadlines, important dates, and scheduled progress meetings/team check-ins. Reminder systems and color coding are also great tools for keeping your calendar organized. Several free options for web-based calendars and task systems to keep your whole team organized include Google calendars, Asana, and Trello.
Grant management is most successful when it occurs year-round. Storing current and accurate documents, templates, and reusable answers to common questions in one place saves valuable time and keeps you organized in advance of upcoming deadlines.
This practice also applies to organizing financial materials—whether you’re managing incoming or outgoing grants—it's critical to the financial stability of your organization that you continuously maintain accurate records of grant designations (i.e., receipts, invoices, contracts, etc.). Whichever system you decide to use to organize your materials, make sure that your team can easily access and update it throughout the year. If useful, designate a team member to oversee these materials to make sure the organization is following IRS and OBM guidelines.
This is especially useful for recurring grants. Grant history archives can save time in present grant management and inform future decision-making. Include key information about grants and funders such as their websites, relevant tax forms and numbers, types of programs they fund, typical funding range, social media, and conversation notes.
Grant history archives should also hold details of past requests and applications such as contact information, who wrote the grant, deadlines, requested amount, targeted program, copy of the application, decision date, and amount received (if applicable). A secure, online archive is best for organizations with lots of grant history.
Stay on top of grant cycles by setting up an efficient tracking and reporting system. This can be done with routine summary reports and status updates, team meetings, and checklists with reminders and items assigned to certain people. If online, the use of data, categories, and status metrics (eg, “pending” or “submitted”) are useful tools for staying up to date on grant cycles.
As your organization evolves, so should your grant management procedures (even if you’ve already mastered them).
Reevaluate your organization’s needs approximately every year based on the size of your team, the scope of your programs, your organization’s mission, and priorities. Consider different technological solutions to best meet your needs and update your processes so that they can support and propel the success of your organization.