Using a Grant Management System to Grow as a Grants Manager
While there are many people involved in the grant process, from applicants and funding partners to program officers and executive staff, the bulk of the management responsibilities can often fall on a single individual who acts as the delegator and point person for the entire grant process: the grants manager.
Are you a grants manager who wants to improve your grant management capabilities? Or maybe you are a decision maker at a nonprofit who wants to streamline the grant process for their organization? Either way, this article will help you identify key opportunities to cultivate a more productive environment through a grant management system.
How a Grant Management System Can Help You Become a More Efficient Grants Manager
A grant management system is the organizational infrastructure of every foundation responsible for rewarding grants. Grant management systems are used throughout the entire grant lifecycle, including everything from finding grant opportunities, receiving grant applications, and awarding funds, all the way to managing the use of grant funds to ensure that all of the grant’s requirements are met.
Grant management systems streamline this process by creating a holistic environment through which documentation and correspondence can be stored and shared seamlessly among all of the individuals responsible for the grant.
Ideally, a grant management system should reduce repetitive and redundant tasks by automating as many processes as possible, while also providing a central hub for communication among collaborators.
Having a feature-rich grant management system will not only make the grant process run more smoothly throughout its lifecycle, but it will also make the role of the grants manager much easier by providing access to critical data and furnishing a broad overview of the entire grant process.
What Is the Role of a Grants Manager?
The role of a grants manager is complex and multifaceted. They often act as the go-between for many different departments and are ultimately responsible for finding grant opportunities and awarding funds.
Here are a few of the basic functions and responsibilities that a grants manager must handle throughout the grant process:
Identify roles and delegate tasks
Before awarding funds, grants managers need to know who they have on board, identify key talent for completing crucial tasks, define the responsibilities of every individual, and create a hierarchy of accountability to facilitate communication throughout the organization.
This is one area where having a grant management system in place will make an enormous difference. Having one central location where everyone can make updates, review progress, and save documents makes the entire grant management process run like clockwork.
If you do not have a grant management system in place, information can get lost or go unnoticed, crucial documentation can be harder to request and track down, and measuring progress can become extremely difficult.
Ensure applicants meet grant requirements
When reviewing grant applications, grants managers must ensure that applicants meet all of the internal requirements, as well as specific requirements for each individual grant, to determine whether applicants are eligible to receive funding through the foundation.
This is a task that may require multiple individuals to vet and research an applicant, as well as review documentation to make sure it is a good fit. Having a well-structured grant management system in place will greatly assist in this process, especially when it is being completed by multiple team members.
Create a timeline for every step in the grant lifecycle
It is vitally important to create a timeline for the grant lifecycle early on in the process. A grant timeline should include important milestones for measuring the success of the grantee’s project, deadlines for essential documentation, and regular progress reports (both internally to the organization’s leadership and funders, as well as externally from the grantee), among many other important details.
Using a grant management system will not only help the grants manager develop this timeline, but it will play a critical role in keeping everything on track and running smoothly within the timeline.
Keep track of awards and spending
After awarding funds and creating a timeline for the grant’s life cycle, grants managers will need to track and record the grantee’s use of the funds to complete their project.
Ultimately, grants managers are responsible for working with grantees to measure the use of grant funds. Grants managers must keep detailed records of the accounting and distribution of the funds in order to ensure that grantees are meeting the grant’s stipulations and guidelines, as well as nonprofit regulatory requirements.
A grant management system will allow the grants manager to keep all of the grant’s financial records in one central location, which gives the foundation the ability to audit the use of funds according to the grant’s stipulations.
Of course, this should all be done in a trust-based manner, so it’s important to have a grant management system that also follows trust-based philanthropy best practices while providing grantee relationship management tools that promote positive interactions and equitable grantmaking.
Track and record the grantee’s progress
Grants managers need to monitor the progress and successes of the grantee’s project. This is especially important within long-term projects in which funding is distributed over a period of time according to the grantee’s needs, as well as in accordance with their ability to reach milestones and meet deadlines.
Grants managers must rely heavily on their grant management system for this since they must keep records of grantee activities. Having everything in one place allows grants managers to analyze everything in real-time and compare the progress against every requirement for funding.
What Are the Qualities of a Grants Manager?
Grants managers are responsible for many different tasks, deadlines, and individuals, and they will often need to manage several grants at any given time. In order to fulfill this role, grants managers possess a diverse set of skills and qualities.
Perhaps first and foremost of these is organization. Grants managers have exceptional organizational skills and a keen eye for detail, along with an acute memory for particulars. However, even for the sharpest minds, tracking every detail involved in the grant management process is a monumental task that few are able to accomplish without assistance.
Grants managers have the ability to prioritize and delegate tasks. In the world of grants and funding, there are constant deadlines that must be met consistently.
Also, grants managers are excellent communicators. Since a large portion of their communication takes place electronically, grants managers need to be able to convey information clearly and concisely to avoid misunderstandings among team members.
Grants managers are also excellent problem solvers capable of dissecting complex issues and identifying practical solutions to keep their projects on track. Grants managers use their analytical problem-solving skills to evaluate the conceivability of a potential funding opportunity and assess possible risks to effectively avoid them where possible and mitigate them where appropriate.
And most importantly, grants managers are passionate about what they do. When carrying out such a difficult position, it is vitally important to believe in your mission and care about the outcome of your work.
How Can a Grant Management System Make Me a Better Grant Manager?
A grant management system is designed to simplify and accomplish many different tasks through automation and data transparency. However, it is the grants manager’s job to oversee all of the day-to-day tasks that come along with charitable giving.
So how can a grant management system help make you a better grants manager?
Grant management systems incorporate features and customizations that will help grants managers direct the entire grant process, especially for organizations that manage several grants simultaneously.
Here are a few examples of grant management system features that can help you to be a better grants manager:
Scenario planning dashboard - A scenario planning dashboard is a tool that helps grants managers with planning the potential impact of funding. It is used to create and examine circumstances that may come up during the grant life cycle in order to evaluate their potential impact and create contingency plans for any problems that may arise.
In-form comments/discussions - In-form comments and discussions are a collaboration feature within the grant management system. Comments can be left on specific documents, such as grant applications, and discussions can take place within the virtual environment where documents are stored to facilitate cooperation among grant managers, organization members, and grant applicants.
E-signature integration with Adobe Sign or Docusign - This feature allows grant managers to quickly and efficiently obtain electronic signatures on important documents, thereby eliminating the need to print, sign, and scan documents.
Batch email templates - Batch email templates are an important time-saving feature that helps grant managers maintain communication with grantees and team members throughout the grant lifecycle.
Branching logic in intake forms - Branching logic dynamically guides applicants through intake documents based on a predetermined set of conditions. This allows grants managers to create more diverse applications capable of gathering different kinds of information based on the individual needs of the applicant or the grant’s requirements.
These are only a handful of features included in a grant management system that help grant managers to streamline their grant process. A grant management system contains many capabilities and functions, all of which are designed to provide seamless integration, automation, communication, and efficiency, ultimately helping you to become a better grant manager.
How Can a Grant Management System Improve My Organization?
As we mentioned previously, two of the most important functions within the grant management process are organization and communication.
The grant funding process involves an abundance of dates, financial information, personal details, documentation, regulations, and more. Keeping all of these aspects organized and working together seamlessly requires a careful and ongoing effort, from the time a grant is published and applied for to when the last funds are distributed and the grant is finalized.
In order to thoroughly administer all of these moving parts, organizations have to communicate in a timely and transparent manner. With a large number of individuals coming together from different geographic locations and diverse institutions, having a centralized hub for communication is key to bringing all of these entities together within a cohesive effort.
The best way to bring this to fruition is with the use of a grant management system. Foundations that employ a next-generation grant management system will experience a dramatic increase in productivity and efficiency, which allows them to receive and distribute more funds for causes they believe in.
Transform Your Grant Management with GivingData
Here at GivingData, we understand that grant management is a complex process that requires lots of hard work and attention to detail, and we are passionate about continuously improving this process for grants managers and organizations.
With our professional grant management system, organizations can seamlessly collect, share, and manage information regarding the entire grant process. GivingData’s grant management system provides multiple forms of automation and integration that manage and stores data in an easy-to-use format for grants managers and their teams.
Contact GivingData today to learn more about our purpose-built grant management system so we can help you streamline your grantmaking and grow your impact.
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