Whether you’re just starting a new nonprofit organization or you already have a handle on the grant management process, having a streamlined grant process is key to effectively running your nonprofit. It can be a complex process that requires searching for the ideal grants, handling reporting, filing numerous applications, and more. And all of these responsibilities can be time-consuming and challenging at times.
Luckily, there are a few key ways to streamline nonprofit grant management. In this guide, we will share the basics of the grant management process, as well as best practices for building an effective grant management system for your nonprofit.
What Is Grant Management for Nonprofits?
Nonprofit grant management refers to the process of overseeing the entire lifecycle of a grant received by a nonprofit organization. This includes everything from organizing and securing grants to tracking and processing grant applications and grant closure.
It’s important to note that grant management can be viewed from two perspectives: the organizations dispersing the funds, and the nonprofits receiving the funds.
From the perspective of philanthropic organizations and foundations, grant management involves determining how to disperse their funds. This process is also known as grantmaking. These philanthropic organizations ensure that the funds they disburse are used effectively, efficiently, and in accordance with their intended purpose.
Some of their activities include:
- Monitoring the progress of grant recipients
- Evaluating the effectiveness of funded projects
- Conducting site visits to ensure compliance with grant terms
- Provide technical assistance to grantees as needed
The second perspective is from that of the nonprofit organization applying for and receiving the grants. This involves a series of steps that nonprofits take to ensure that they meet the requirements and expectations of the grantor, and that they use the grant funds in a way that achieves their mission and goals.
Some grant management activities from a nonprofit perspective include:
- Reviewing the grant requirements
- Developing grant proposals
- Managing funds and tracking expenses
- Preparing reports and evaluations
- Maintaining compliance with grantor requirements
Effective grant management requires a collaborative effort from a team of individuals with diverse skills and expertise. This includes grant managers, the finance team, and the nonprofit’s board of directors.
Types of Nonprofit Grants
There are several types of nonprofit grants that organizations can pursue, each with its own specific requirements and application processes. Here are some of the most common types of nonprofit grants:
These are typically awarded for a specific project or program. This type of nonprofit grant is often tied to specific goals and outcomes.
Operating grants provide funding to support an organization’s day-to-day operations, such as salaries, rent, and other administrative expenses.
This type of grant supports nonprofit organizations in building their ability to deliver services and programs. Examples include grants for staff training, strategic planning, and program evaluation.
Nonprofit capital grants are used to fund capital expenses, such as building construction or renovation, the purchase of equipment or vehicles, or other major investments.
Challenge grants require the organization to raise a certain amount of matching funds before the grant is awarded, typically providing an incentive for other donors to contribute.
This type of nonprofit grant supports research projects and studies, typically in fields such as healthcare, education, and social sciences.
Where Do Grants For Nonprofits Come From?
Grants for nonprofits can come from a variety of sources, including:
Many private and public foundations offer grants to nonprofits. These can range from small local foundations to large national and international foundations.
Local, state, and federal government agencies may offer grants to nonprofits for specific programs or initiatives.
Some corporations offer grants to nonprofits as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Individual donors may choose to give grants to nonprofits that align with their philanthropic goals.
Crowdfunding platforms allow nonprofits to raise money from a large number of individuals over the internet.
The Importance of Grant Management for Nonprofits
Effective grant management is essential for nonprofit organizations to maximize the impact of the funds they receive. Here’s why grant management is so crucial for nonprofit organizations:
Ensures the nonprofit is meeting requirements
When a nonprofit organization receives a grant, there are often specific requirements that the organization must meet in order to use the funds. Grant management helps ensure that the organization is meeting those requirements and is using the funds appropriately.
Holds the nonprofit accountable
Nonprofit organizations that receive grants are accountable to their funders for the use of the funds. Grant management helps ensure that the organization is transparent and accountable, which can help build trust with donors and funders.
Nonprofit organizations that receive grants must comply with laws and regulations related to the use of the funds. Grant management helps ensure that the organization is complying with those laws and regulations.
Measures the progress of nonprofits’ work
Grant management helps nonprofit organizations track their progress in achieving the goals and objectives of the grant. This information can be used to report back to funders and to make decisions about the organization’s programs and services.
Grant management helps ensure that nonprofit organizations are using funds in a sustainable way so that they can continue to provide their programs and services in the long term.
The Risks Of Ineffective Grant Management
Not having a proper grant management process in place can pose significant risks for nonprofits. Poor grant management can result in financial mismanagement and fraud, leading to financial instability. This could potentially cause the nonprofit to shut down. Noncompliance can also result in penalties and legal consequences, adding to the financial burden of the organization.
Ineffective grant management can also cause the nonprofit to miss out on future funding opportunities. If an organization fails to meet the requirements or expectations of a grantor, it’s unlikely that the grantor will award future funding. The organization’s reputation can be negatively impacted, making it difficult to secure funding from other sources.
The Complete Grant Management Lifecycle
Here is an overview of the steps involved in the grant management lifecycle:
1. Grant prospecting
This stage involves identifying and researching potential grant opportunities that match the nonprofit’s mission and objectives.
2. Grant application
This stage involves preparing and submitting a grant application, which includes a proposal, budget, and other required documents, to the grantor.
3. Grant review
Once the grant application is submitted, it is reviewed by the grantor to determine if the nonprofit meets the eligibility requirements and the grant objectives.
4. Grant award
If the grant application is successful, the nonprofit will be awarded the grant, and a grant agreement will be signed by both parties.
5. Grant implementation
This stage involves putting the grant funds to work and executing the activities outlined in the grant proposal.
6. Grant reporting
Throughout the grant implementation, the nonprofit is required to submit progress reports and financial reports to the grantor, which show how the grant funds are being used.
7. Grant closeout
At the end of the grant period, the nonprofit is required to submit a final report, which summarizes the project’s achievements, lessons learned, and the impact of the grant. The grantor will then evaluate the report and close the grant.
In addition to the above stages, a nonprofit may also need to maintain compliance with regulations and requirements related to the grant, such as tracking and reporting on specific outcomes or providing audit documentation.
Tips for Streamlining Your Grant Management Process
Here are some grant management best practices to keep your funding efforts as consistent and efficient as possible.
Take Advantage of Grant Management Software for Nonprofits
Purpose-built software can be a game-changer for nonprofits that want to streamline their grant management process. Exponent Partners’ grant management software can help nonprofits track their grant applications, manage reporting requirements, and monitor grant progress.
Our solution can also help nonprofits identify new grant opportunities that align with their mission, and automate routine administrative tasks. By automating these processes, nonprofits can free up staff time and focus on more strategic activities.
Use a Grant Calendar
We recommend setting up a grant calendar that your whole team can access digitally. This will keep your employees on the same page throughout the proposal process and makes it easier to track grants you’ve applied for.
Each calendar entry should include the grant application’s deadline window, your organization’s task timelines and deadlines, and any recurring dates that may arise during the grant process. Virtual calendars with built-in communication and timeline tools will also help you to collaborate with your team and connect relevant tasks to your nonprofit’s goals.
Create a Resource Library
Lastly, we suggest establishing a central repository of all the documents and materials that nonprofits need for their grant management process. This can include standard application documents, grant management templates, and grant reporting templates.
A resource library can help nonprofits streamline their grant management process by providing a one-stop shop for all the necessary materials. This reduces the time it takes to search for materials, improves consistency across applications, and ensures that all the necessary documents are up to date.
How Exponent Partners Can Help
Exponent Partners offers expert solutions for nonprofits to streamline the grant lifecycle. We have extensive expertise working closely with organizations in the philanthropic sector as well as their funding recipients to restructure their processes, manage key relationships, and measure their impact and progress. We provide support throughout their entire grant management journey.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you optimize your grant management process. Let’s work together to help your organization achieve its vision and mission by unleashing the power of your data.