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Building a Grants Management Team

by Benh Pham on December 21, 2010

grants teamOne of the keys to sustaining a healthy grants organization is to have the appropriate staff, with specific responsibilities, serving in critical roles. To assist organizations in identifying these appropriate skills and qualifications, here are some examples of position summaries, job-related duties, and qualifications.

Three Essential Positions for a Healthy Grants Team

The following position summaries are delineated by function. It is important to note that there are several different types of grant-active department roles. While no two organizations are exactly the same, our goal is to provide several options for an organization to craft its particular employment offerings, based on general local civil service or organizational requirements. Additional eCivis publications, located in Grants Network: KnowledgeBase, provide sample job descriptions for the following examples.

It is best to define the different positions as outlined in the job descriptions as follows:

1. Grants Coordinator (Organization Level):  This role is typically held by someone with mid-to-senior level experience managing projects and motivating staff.  The most effective grant coordinators at this level have enough seniority to affect policy and make decisions that will benefit the organization. For example, the individual in this role may be authorized to approve grant applications or projects, speak before local legislators (elected officials), and participate in organization-wide strategy/long-term planning sessions.

    2. Grants Coordinator (Department Level): This role is slightly different than the organization-level role for the same name. A department level  grant coordinator is responsible only for the activities within a department, and is often tied to specific grants management within a subject area. Note: the department level grants coordinator is often referred to as a Grant Specialist.

    3. Financial Accountant/Budget Analyst (Grant-Active Department):

    While these functions serve a much larger role for an organization or department, many grant-active offices hire dedicated staff to address fiscal matters within a grant portfolio. One of the major misconceptions is that fiscal and program grant management can occur independently from the other. It is a symbiotic relationship and requires consensus and coordination. The Budget Analyst in many cases will serve as the crux of a program, often with more responsibility, communicating more with funding agencies than when only dealing with the general fund. It is for these reasons, that hiring appropriately can be a difficult challenge.  

      The following are job descriptions based on the above outlined categories to provide guidance in developing a specific organization notice of employment.

      The Nuts and Bolts of Preparing Effective Job Descriptions

      Grants Coordinator (Organizational Level)

      Position Summary:

      This is an advanced position requiring little supervision. Candidate must perform complex and sensitive duties, involving both analysis and development of recommendations consistent with overall policies, general directives, and broad regulations (local/state/and federal). Strong experience with government structure, services, and practice of public administration is key.  Attention to detail is essential in this position. The individual will be expected to prepare project management reports and speak before legislators to move grant programs forward.

      Position Skills:

      • Research, identify, and analyze federal/state/foundation grant opportunities
      • Monitor and evaluate information to determine compliance with prescribed standards and guidelines, including federal and state circulars
      • Solve procedural, operational and other related issues surrounding grant programs
      • Strong analytical, relationship management, and communication skills
      • Familiarity and analysis of procurement policy and contract management

      Grants Coordinator (Department Level)

      Position Summary:

      Very similar to the organizational level role of the grants coordinator, the departmental role has specific responsibility for the objectives at the departmental/unit level.   In addition, this role is one where an organization can take someone with strong writing skills over actual experience. Understanding of policy and the ability to communicate in writing is critical.

      Position Skills:

      • Strong writing skills
      • Ability to work effectively in a group
      • Represent and communicate department goals
      • Detail oriented with strong project management skills
      • Understanding and analysis of financial and statistical data
      • Research and thorough follow-up
      • Comfort working with constituency, including nonprofit professionals

      The Financial/Budget Analyst (Grant-Active Department)

      Position Summary:

      While this role encompasses a strong variety of responsibilities, strong communication skills and understanding of organization fiscal procedures is key. The role requires more interaction with program/policy team members than most financial positions.

      Position Skills:

      • The ability to effectively communicate with non-fiscal team members
      • Strong experience with fund-based accounting and GAAP rules and regulations surrounding public accounting
      • Familiarity with Single Audit principles
      • Ability to work with multiple database systems, including those of external agencies (which may require additional training)
      • Adaptability (funding sources vary a great deal as well as potential procedures)

      eCivis strongly encourages including these points to job descriptions for financial related staff as it pertains to fiscal management of grant programs.

      About eCivis

      eCivis is the nation's leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving local governments' and community-based organizations' grants performance. For more information about eCivis, visit www.ecivis.com.

      For media inquiries, contact media@ecivis.com.

      Topics: Grants Management Articles