The post-award stage is the longest stage of the grants lifecycle, which I outlined in my first blog article on this topic earlier this week. Grant managers must ensure that the requirements outlined in a grant agreement are met. State and federal grants are almost always more stringent and have more requirements than foundation or corporate grants. Federal grants are to be managed using the guidelines outlined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Relevant federal documents can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_default.
Grant requirements vary based on whether your organization is a state or local government, college or university, or a nonprofit organization. Grant managers must be detail-oriented and able to juggle multiple projects at once. They must also make certain that the programmatic reports and the financial reports are submitted correctly and in a timely manner.
Grant closure details are also outlined in the grant award notification (GAN). During the closure process, grant managers must, among other duties, make sure they submit the final report by deadline and verify what they need to do with equipment purchased with grant funds (some funders, for example, require that equipment be returned to the funder). This kind of information will be outlined in the GAN. If there were staff members hired with grant funds, the grant manager must work with the HR department to execute the termination of the position. One very important tip: no large expenditures should be executed at the end of the grant period. This can be avoided by making certain that you’re meeting with team members regularly—at least monthly—regarding expenditures. Finally, make sure you understand the records retention rules outlined in the GAN. A grant manager must also arrange for storage of all grant files.
Grant managers must also be prepared to work with the department that manages audits—in most organizations it’s the finance department. If there’s a centralized grant manager in your organization, he/she should be intimately involved in the audit process. Departmental grant managers will be required to provide documentation from their grant files on items purchased with grant funds. It is imperative that everyone involved with managing grants in any organization understands the expectations and requirements related to preparing for an audit. Ensuring that everyone understands what auditors will look for during an audit should be discussed well before the audit. The federal government requires a single audit if your agency receives over $500,000 a year in federal funding (the OMB A-133 single audit threshold may shift to $750,000 in the future). State requirements levels for audits will vary by state.
Whether you’re working in a small nonprofit, mid-sized city or county, or a very large foundation or municipality, the basics of grants management are the same. If you receive funds from a grantor, you must account for your use of those funds via programmatic and fiscal reports, and you must close the grant using the process outlined in your grant award document. In my next post, I will discuss my experience as a grant manager taking on a HUD Economic Development Initiative grant.
About the Author
Angel Wright-Lanier is the Director of Grants Management Consulting for eCivis. Before joining eCivis in 2011, she served as Intergovernmental Relations Manager for the City of Raleigh, helping to improve the city’s grants line of business and establishing policies and procedures that helped to drive the city’s grantsmanship.