What is Grant Management?

Grant management is the comprehensive process of overseeing all activities related to grants: from identifying recipients, to awarding funds, to reporting on outcomes all while maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements. While it’s sometimes referenced from the perspective of grant recipients, in this article, we will just be speaking from the viewpoint of the grant funders.

Table of Contents

Grant Lifecycle

Before diving into an overview of how grant management works, it’s important to understand the general grantmaking process.

Pre-Award Stage

Generating Grant Guidelines

Developing grant guidelines requires creating a comprehensive outline of the grant’s objectives, eligibility requirements, application procedure, and evaluation metrics. These instructions provide prospective grant recipients with an overview of what is expected and how to apply.

Collecting Applications

This is done typically through an online submission platform on the grantmaker’s website. Throughout an application period, the grant candidates submit their proposals, which are then managed and categorized using document management systems or grantmaking software.

Evaluating Potential Grantees

After applications are collected, grantmakers evaluate potential grantees based on various factors, like alignment with grant objectives, organizational capacity, financial stability, and potential impact.

Award Stage

Communicating with the Applicants on Their Status

Once recipients are selected, grantmakers follow up with both successful and unsuccessful candidates. For the recipients, communication includes information on the next steps, which includes the agreement and actual award payment.

Generating an Agreement for Signature (Notice of Award)

This legal agreement outlines the terms and conditions of the grant, including funding amount, project timeline, reporting requirements, and expected outcomes. In order to ensure compliance, these documents are often reviewed by legal professionals before signature.

Awarding Funds

Awarding funds involves disbursing the grant money to the successful grantees. This can be a one-time payment or staged payments based on project milestones, as outlined in the grant agreement.

Post-Award Stage

Monitoring Progress

Once the award has been distributed, grantmakers track the progress of the funded projects to ensure grantees are adhering to the grant terms, and evaluating whether the project is on track to meet its objectives.

Program Assessment

After the program has ended, grantmakers conduct an evaluation to systematically assess its outcomes and impacts. This evaluation measures the program’s efficacy and the grantee’s ability to achieve the proposed objectives.

Award Closeout

The award closeout is the final stage of the grant management process. This involves confirming that all grant terms have been met, all funds have been appropriately used, and all required reports have been submitted.

Who Handles Grant Management for Grantmaking Organizations?

Here are the key roles and responsibilities for an effective grant management process:

Grant Program Officer: Responsible for the overall management of the grant program. They often handle the creation of grant guidelines, applicant outreach, and oversee the grant evaluation process. They also typically work directly with grantees, providing support and monitoring project progress.

Executive Director or Board of Directors: Provides strategic direction for grantmaking activities, deciding which areas to focus on and approving major grant decisions.

Legal Advisor: Ensure that all grantmaking activities comply with the law. They review grant agreements and may advise on legal matters, such as compliance with tax laws and regulations related to philanthropic giving.

Financial Officer: Oversees the financial aspects of the grant program. They manage the disbursement of funds and monitor the financial aspects of grantee reports.

Grants Administrator: Manage the day-to-day operations of the grant program. They may handle tasks such as receiving applications, maintaining grant records, and coordinating with grantees.

Communications Specialist: Manage external communications for the grant maker. They may announce grant opportunities, publish grant successes, and handle media and public inquiries about the grant program. They also coordinate with grant recipients as they announce awards to ensure proper branding.

Three Benefits of an Effective Grant Management System

1. Enhanced Accountability and Transparency

An effective grant management program promotes accountability and transparency, ensuring funds are used appropriately and for their intended purpose.

2. Improved Efficiency

Effective software, a defined process, and assigned roles greatly reduce wasted resources within an organization, freeing up time to be spent on other initiatives.

3. Measurable Impact

Grant management facilitates the tracking and measurement of a project’s impact, providing data-driven insights to optimize future grantmaking decisions. Your team will be able to identify characteristics and patterns of successful programs and recipients.

Three Challenges in Grant Management

1. Compliance and Reporting

The challenge with compliance and reporting lies in the diversity and complexity of grant terms and conditions. Each grant can come with its own set of rules regarding how funds are used, when reports are due, and what information must be included in these reports. Managing these requirements across dozens, if not hundreds, of grantees can be complex and requires significant administrative effort.

2. Resource Constraints

Limited resources, including staff and funding, can make it difficult to efficiently manage the grant process from start to finish.

3. Measuring Impact

While grant management software can certainly help, many societal impact outcomes can be difficult to quantify. Additionally, some impacts may not become apparent until long after the grant period has ended. Thus, despite the use of sophisticated tools, capturing the full scope and depth of a project’s impact can be challenging.

How Blackbaud Can Help

As a leader in nonprofit software tools, Blackbaud can help make your grantmaking process a breeze. With one tool, you can manage a centralized database of all your grants and grantee relationships. Not only that, but we also make it easy to set up online applications, review grantees, award payments, and use analytics for reporting. If you’re interested in taking your organization’s grantmaking to the next level, reach out to us today to request a demo!