Creating a Grants Office from Scratch (Part 6): Resources and Launch

Posted by Stacy Fitzsimmons on Aug 10, 2014 10:01:00 PM

Grants office, grants office for local governments, launching a grants office, how to establish a grants office for a municipality, cities and townsHere we are at the last post of this grants office series. I wish you great success as you ramp up your grants office with key stakeholders.

Last week we talked about establishing grant goals for the office and the organization as a whole. This week we'll focus on technological and human resources and the launch of your grants office.

Let's get to it.

Determine Resources Needed

Once the duties of the office are clearly stated, determine what human and technology resources are needed to achieve the goals of the office.

Human Resources

Staffing is never an easy process, especially in government! Approach the human resources element knowing the personnel regulations and guidelines (and budget) for your organization.

Look at the scope and goals and ask:

  • How many job functions are there?
  • How can they be grouped?
  • How many people does it take?
  • How many people can we get by with?
  • What skills do people need?

Create job descriptions that reflect the functions you have identified and the requisite skills. There are many job descriptions online for grant-related positions. Do a search as part of your research and determine what elements you need and what others are seeking as qualifications. This was a major part of my reorganization experience—determining what others were doing and how I could adapt to my specific situation. Enlist your HR office early and often as you develop the job descriptions through onboarding.

Grant Management Technology 

There are all sorts of software programs and online applications that can be used to manage the grant lifecycle. Some offices use Excel sheets, Access databases, or full-blown grant management systems. In order to determine what you need, consider the following:

  • How will you track grant applications?
  • How will you track grant awards?
  • How will you maintain reporting requirements (deadlines and content)?
  • What dollar amount will you be managing?
  • What volume of applications and awards will you be managing?
  • What are the reporting expectations of organizational leaders?

Once you determine the scope of technology needs, do your research to figure out the best resource for you. Some vendors are scalable; others are not. It’s important to have a tracking system that meets your needs.

The Launch

Way to go! All of the people and processes are in place. All systems are go.

As you have come along this journey, I’m sure you have already been doing some grant work as well (unless you outsourced or delayed). It’s a tiring road, but well worth it when grant proposals are going out and new awards are coming in.

Revisit the strategic plan goals and reasons for starting the office frequently—weekly at the start, then pare it down. Keeping focus on the “why we are here” is definitely needed in the first few months, which are the most rough. Once everything is operating smoothly, track your progress toward goals and determine how well processes are working. Tweaks will be needed as you work through the first few grants. Don’t be afraid to make changes that make the process less cumbersome, have fewer steps, or simply make more sense. While in the planning phase, it’s somewhat easy to see how things should work, but when things get going, it may look and feel different. That’s okay! Just revaluate and go back through the process—it will be shorter and easier on each cycle.

About the Author

Stacy Fitzsimmons, GPA member and grant writing professional

Stacy Fitzsimmons is founder of SNF Writing Solutions, a Planning-Proposal-Project Management consultancy. She has a passion for strategy, process, and implementation and enjoys working with a variety of nonprofit, corporate, and government clients nationally. Stacy is a state and federal grant expert with over $70 million in awards in the last 5 years. A contractor with Grants Professional Services, she can be reached at stacy@snfwritingsolutions.com.

 

About eCivis

eCivis provides cloud-based grants management software solutions for state and local governments to improve grants performance. For more information about eCivis, visit www.ecivis.com. For media inquiries, contact media@ecivis.com

Grant Management Free Article

If you're organizing your grants office, we advise you to also research grants management software if you haven't already. Here's a great starting point:

Grants Management System Beyond Spreadsheets

Topics: Grants Office, Grants Management Best Practices

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