Understanding grant terminology – Part II

Understanding the various terms that apply to grants is an important part of not only putting together a successful grant application, but it is also vital to properly managing the grant you are awarded. My last column defined several of these terms, and more are included in this column.

Special Conditions — If there are special conditions attached to your grant award, you will be informed by the funder of this requirement, most likely in the award documents. For example, you may need to submit past financial reports or audits. You may need to revise part of your application, such as the budget, or send back the award documentation signed by the authorized entity in your agency. In general, this request will need to be met before the funder will officially award the grant, so read everything you receive from the funder and follow through as soon as possible to avoid delays.

Subrecipient — When other agencies are designated as partners in your grant-funded project and will receive a portion of the funds to perform their part, they are referred to as subrecipients. This will have been set up in detail in your application.  For example, you could partner with a non-profit agency to provide after-school activities as part of a larger community policing project. As the direct recipient of the funds from the granting agency, you are totally responsible for the activities of the subrecipient and, therefore, you need to ensure they are in compliance with all of the regulations of the funder.  This includes financial and well as programmatic aspects of the project.

Grant Adjustment Notification (GAN) —​ Despite what many people think, it is possible to change certain aspects of your grant project once it gets underway. Most of these modifications require a formal GAN to be submitted to the funder for approval. Many funders will allow you to realign up to 10% of the overall budget without prior authorization, although it’s a good idea to contact the funder before making this change. Also, you could request a no-cost extension of time to fully complete the project. Check your award documents to determine the requirements of your funder. And remember: it’s important to have a good reason for any change you request.

Program Income — If your grant-funded project includes any type of income to your organization, such as fees charged to program attendees or registration for training or other events, you have to let the funder know upfront (in the application) that you will be receiving this income. It should be added to your budget as a positive line item. It can be included as your match amount, if one is required. Once you receive the grant, you will have to track every dollar that comes in and include that in your financial reports. In general, solicitations for federal grants include specific information on project income, so be sure to follow those guidelines exactly for the application and throughout the grant period.

Closeout — This is the final act for your entire grant project. Funders tell you how long you have after the official grant period ends to file all required final reports, financial documentation and requests for reimbursement. Generally, it’s two to three months from the last day of your project period. It is clearly stated in your award documents, so add that time to your overall grant project timeline and make sure everyone is aware of it. Don’t wait until the last month of your grant period to plan for closeout. Check with your vendors to make sure they will be able to submit their final invoice to you in enough time that you can pay it, then request and receive reimbursement from the funder, all of which must be completed before closeout ends. You will not be reimbursed for anything that occurs after the closeout date passes, so make this a priority.

Supplanting — For a lot of people who are familiar with grants, this is a very scary word -- and a confusing one.  But its meaning is very simple. You can’t use federal grant funds to pay for anything that has already been designated in another funding source. In other words, you can’t reduce your agency budget, or any other source of funds such as that provided under a state grant, just because you will be receiving federal grant money. It can’t replace (supplant) any existing or previously allocated funds.

Educate yourself about all aspects of grants (eligibility, applications, and grant management) before you consider applying for any opportunities. Grants can be great resources for your agency, but only if you fully understand how they work and what you will be required to do.