When you are working on a grant application, detailed planning is the key to getting it done well and submitted on time — it’s the same for managing those grants once they’re awarded
You’ve just been awarded a grant for an application you and your team spent weeks working on — doing research, writing narrative sections and crunching budget numbers until well past midnight. The application process was a lot of work, but now that you’ve succeeded, the work continues.
In fact, once you get a grant award, the real work is just beginning. Grants management is just as important as grant acquisition, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you plan for it.
First of all, take a look at the award documents the police chief or city mayor were asked to sign. Whether you received a federal, state, or even foundation grant, there is a legal contract involved with requirements to fulfill and deadlines to meet.
It’s definitely something your legal folks need to understand, but the basics of it for a law enforcement grant team can be broken down into a three-item checklist:
1. Do the project.
2. Spend the money appropriately.
3. Submit programmatic and financial reports.
Getting all of this done within the parameters of your grant time frame can be accomplished if you set it up properly at the very beginning. Ideally, you should have had a lot of this already in place during the application phase, but now works, too.
Gather the Principal Stakeholders
It starts with a meeting of the team — those colleagues who helped put together the application in the first place. Bring together your subject matter experts, representatives of the appropriate departments (the people that will be doing the project), your agency’s financial folks, and anyone else who had a hand in creating the submitted proposal. That could include people from other agencies who are going to be providing services for the project (sub-grantees or subcontractors, like nonprofits or other governmental agencies).
During that first meeting, lay out the timeline in great detail. Most likely, a timeline was included as part of your application, but go over each item and assign its completion to the appropriate team member. Program folks definitely need to have a very detailed plan for beginning the project — making sure it will progress as designed.
On the financial side, plan the acquisition of equipment or anything else you have included in the budget so that it is received before the timeline shows it will be used. After all, you can’t use radar guns for directed traffic deployments if you don’t have them yet. Also, it is the duty of the financial folks to make sure all of the funds have been expended – appropriately – before the end of the grant period.
Reporting can be quarterly, semi-annually or annually depending on the grant. Those requirements are clearly set out in the award documents, and there is no reason for any of them to be submitted late. Best case scenario is for the budget department to file the financial reports, but the programmatic reports will probably be a joint effort between the grant manager and those actually doing the program. The report includes not only what has occurred on the project during the reporting period, but also how well the performance measures are being met. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on how the project is progressing before the reports are due so you can address any issues that arise.
When you are working on a grant application, detailed planning is the key to getting it done well and submitted on time — it’s the same for managing those grants once they’re awarded. It’s the next step in the process, and one that will make your job much easier and less stressful when you have the perfect plan in place.
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