A disorganized, unstructured grants management process can be overwhelming, which is why taking steps to become “grant-ready” is imperative to success. This publication describes prioritization, maintaining accurate and timely information, gaining effective knowledge and skills, and developing a healthy perspective, which will bring order, stability, and good preparation to your grants management system.
Preparation Breeds Success
Successful grant-seeking organizations follow a series of best practices that facilitate a well-prepared and organized approach to the grants process. These practices include:
A prioritization system will help you stay on top of the grant application process and promote stability. Such a system can be created by:
- Providing central support, training, and tools to expedite the grants process
- Defining specific priorities
- Adhering to decisions
- Removing barriers, such as obtrusive approval processes
- Creating streamlined approaches
Having a consistent approach to monitoring grant activity will keep your staff informed of important deadlines and upcoming events, which will lead to better time management and long- and short-term planning.
Accurate and Timely Information
Grants are finite, time-sensitive resources that must be closely monitored, and managing applications and awards requires comprehensive documentation and reporting. For example, a typical program application might include dates or deadlines for a letter of intent, workshops, a comment period, the proposal deadline, an intergovernmental review, and supplemental information submission requirements, in addition to the deadlines and requirements that accompany the actual award.
Effective Knowledge and Skills
According to one estimate, approximately 90 percent of grant writers have no formal training and their funding suffers as a result. Since learning the ins and outs of grant writing can be challenging, you should consider getting formal training for your organization’s grant writers in order to bolster their skills and success.
Gaining inside knowledge into funding opportunities can also be easier than you might think. For example, when applying for a particular program, it can be helpful to examine information on previous awards made through that program. Having an idea of what kind of applicants and projects have received funding in the past will help you verify that the program is a good fit for your project and understand the slant to give your application. It can also help you determine an appropriate amount of funding to request and how much funding can be reasonably expected.
Learning to look at the “big picture” and creating a healthy view of success is also a key component of grant readiness. Instead of tracking the number of projects completed, applications submitted, and the award-to-application ratio, many people only take into account the amount of funds received. It is important to approach the grant application process accepting the fact that not every application submitted will receive funding, regardless of the quality of your application. Awards may be given based on factors that are out of your control, such as regional priorities or economic status. Although receiving money is the end goal, it is important to track overall productivity and create award and goal incentives for the sustainability of your organization’s efforts.
In addition to maintaining order and a less stressful work environment, good grant readiness practices will help you create successful proposals and effective award implementation. Creating structure and organization in your grants management system will ensure that you start out on the right foot.