How to improve nonprofit grant management

Effective grant management is essential to a nonprofit’s fundraising success. But budgeting, tracking, reporting, and managing grants often turns into an overwhelming administrative project that takes valuable staff time and resources away from the more important work at the heart of your organization. 

So it stands to reason that streamlining and improving your grant management process means your organization could spend less time seeking out grants and filling out applications and more time on mission-driven, higher-value activities.

Here are six suggestions to help improve your grant management process so you can reduce cumbersome administrative tasks and focus more time and energy on implementing your organization’s mission.

1. Research grants and funding opportunities

Though it might seem like a good idea to apply for every grant and funding opportunity available, in truth, a better practice is to seek out grants that specifically match your organization’s mission and goals and fit your nonprofit’s overarching strategy. 

Grant funding can come from a variety of sources, all of which you should research thoroughly: federal, local, or state government; family foundations; public charities; community foundations; and private foundations. When searching for grant opportunities in these areas, be sure to pay attention to grant cycles and giving histories.

Because organizations often award grant funding for very specific purposes, you have to determine the exact projects and efforts the grant will fund before applying. Once you’ve determined your organization’s highest priority needs, you can streamline the research process by focusing only on funding that meets those specific needs. 

2. Organize funding information and supporting documents

One of the best things you can do to improve your nonprofit’s grant management is to organize and maintain good records year round.

If you currently have information stored in emails, hard copy file folders, computer files, random spreadsheets, and other far-flung places, now would be a great time to organize all the key information and supporting documents you need to apply for grants in one handy location.

This includes things like funder requirements, funder contact information, requested amounts, tax details, and answers to common questions, along with invoices, receipts, and other financial documents. Organizing all this information will save you heaps of time during the grant application process. 

3. Invest in software to track grant applications

Keeping your grant information organized and sorted with a grant tracking solution will ensure you meet important grants-related deadlines and submit reports on time. As an added bonus, by managing your grants more effectively, you’ll free up time you can use to apply for additional grants and secure more funding to implement your organization’s mission — it’s a win-win.  

Jotform’s grant tracking spreadsheet allows you to monitor the status of ongoing grant applications, manage contact details, and organize information to apply for grants. The spreadsheet is completely customizable, and it offers a calculation feature that automatically adds up totals for grant amounts you’ve requested and received. 

4. Report on your progress internally

Prepare regular summary reports to keep your board members and the rest of your organization updated on the status of grants and funding. When you have an efficient tracking solution in place, reporting won’t be a gargantuan task that takes untold staff hours to complete. 

You can base your progress or summary report on grant status, such as in-progress, pending, or awarded, or by upcoming monthly deadlines, top funders, or whichever metric makes the most sense for your organization. 

5. Meet deadlines and keep stakeholders in the loop

While accurate tracking is key to effectively managing grants internally, it’s also imperative for communicating with funders and grant makers outside your nonprofit. Your potential funders will have progress reporting requirements, and it’s your responsibility to share the right information with them at the right time to instill confidence and trust in your organization.

6. Determine your post-award grant management plan

Once you’ve handled the research, applications, proposals, and other grant details, there’s still another step — creating a plan for grant management post award. This means being able to answer a few key questions: 

  • If you’re applying for a one-year grant, does it renew? 
  • How likely is it that the funder will offer this grant to your organization again next year? 
  • Given that many grants have a duration of just two years, what’s your long-term funding strategy for the program once current grant funding expires? 

Other important considerations for post-award grant management include creating a documentation process for how and when you and your team will implement promised action items, outlining reporting and compliance measures, determining roles and responsibilities for staff handling the grant, and other activities that ensure your nonprofit is using grant funds as promised. 

The grant management process doesn’t have to be an unwieldy and time-consuming administrative task that makes you want to quit your job and run off to Hawaii. 

With handy updated tracking and reporting tools like Jotform’s grant tracking spreadsheet, you’ll be able to organize and stay on top of key grant information with ease. 

Jotform can also help organizations collect grant applicant information with templates like our simple grant application or multipage grant application. You can then track and monitor that data using Jotform Tables.

When you’re prepared ahead of time using the six tips above, you can seamlessly manage the grant process with minimal stress. And once the grants are rolling in because of your new and improved process, you can begin planning your Hawaiian vacation to celebrate your success.

This article is originally published on Oct 27, 2021, and updated on Feb 21, 2022.
Kimberly Houston is a conversion-focused marketing copywriter. She loves helping established creative service providers attract and convert their ideal clients with personality-driven web and email copy, so they can stand out online, and get more business, bookings, and sales.

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