Grant Reporting Dos and Don’ts

Let’s face it—grant management is often undervalued.  The focus tends to center on acquiring new grants with little thought on carefully managing an existing grant portfolio as one way to increase funding from current funders and sustain grant-funded projects year after year.

It is also no secret that grant reports are the best indicators of how well grantees are meeting funding objectives. For funders, grant reports are increasingly becoming a metric in their giving strategy, so it is in each grantee’s best interest to do their due diligence to submit well-developed and timely grant reports.

Experienced grant managers compose, prepare and submit data dense and comprehensive grant reports regularly.  For organizations without staff devoted to managing grant reports, here are a few pointers on how to prepare and submit substantive programmatic reports and budget-compliant financial reports.

Do:

  1. Carefully review the grant agreement to note reporting deadlines and any required report template.
  2. Activate a team of one or more colleagues to help validate data and/or review the narrative.
  3. Capture detailed data tailored to the performance objective(s).
  4. Maintain and validate reported data to ensure accuracy.
  5. Compile supporting documents and success stories on an ongoing basis.
  6. Highlight all relevant progress made toward meeting funding objective(s).
  7. Delineate project outputs and any associated (and realistic) outcomes.
  8. Prepare the report narrative with ample lead time for secondary review by a colleague and to make any revisions.
  9. Provide the final version to organizational leadership for review several days before submission.
  10. Submit reports 2-3 days before deadline to avoid delays caused by technical hiccups.
  11.  Email the funder after submission to request confirmation of receipt.
  12. For financial reports, conduct periodic review of internal financial reports to ensure the following:  
    • Only expenses allowed in the approved budget are charged to the grant
    • The grant budget in the organization’s financial management system matches the approved budget
    • The grant spend rate aligns with project progress
    • Over- or underspending is avoided
    • All expenses are substantiated with supporting documents (receipts, purchase orders, etc.)
    • No commingling or supplanting of grant funds.

Don’t:

  1. Submit your report late.  If unforeseen circumstances will lead to late submission, notify the funder well in advance of the deadline and provide a sensible alternate date. Some government agencies will restrict drawdowns (reimbursements) if a financial report is late.
  2. Falsify data, report details or pace of project progress.
  3. Provide scant or incomplete reports.