While our company’s mission is to help organizations find, obtain, manage, and comply with government grants, our broader mission is to help historically marginalized communities navigate the federal funding landscape so they can also access and be able to comply with federal and other government grants.
With that mission in mind, our CEO hosted a webinar titled Government Grants 101: 5 Steps for Getting Government Grant Ready in partnership with Instrumentl and shared several of the differences between being grant ready and being government grant ready.
At Grants Works, we believe that that government grant readiness is a capacity marker and not simply a checklist.
One can use a checklist to apply for a specific local, state, or federal government grant. However, managing the grant effectively will require an enhanced governance structure, internal collaboration, a center of accountability, strong internal controls, a financial management infrastructure that facilitates accurate cost allocation and the ability to monitor and document expenses, and reliable data collection systems.
The five steps entail the evaluation of the organization, the financial management system, the program or project that will be funded by a government grant, the organization’s existing grant management processes, and staff capacity to manage government grants.
Evaluating the Organization
The organization’s government grant readiness goes beyond meeting eligibility requirements for the application and the ability to demonstrate the organization or business’ impact and outcomes. Government grant readiness signifies that the organization has been registered and verified in the relevant government portals and is not listed as a debarred, excluded, or suspended entity.
A few additional indications of government grant readiness for the organization are written policies and procedures that integrate internal controls such as a conflict-of-interest policy. Organizations are also required to have grant management policies and procedures such as written documentation of how the organization ensures only budgeted and allowable costs are charged to the grant.
Evaluating Your Financial Management System
Most of our grant consulting work at Grants Works focuses on ensuring our clients implement a viable financial management system to manage their government grants.
A financial management system goes beyond the software. It is comprised of an interconnected system that includes a robust financial management application, processes that integrate generally acceptable accounting principles, internal controls, the ability to track and monitor costs, including indirect costs and cost share, and written grant management policies and procedures. In addition to cost allowability, the written procedures should address organizational practices such as how time and effort are tracked, documented, and then accurately allocated to the various grants.
Evaluating Your Programs
Government grant readiness for programs involve the expanded capacity to deliver, the ability to leverage collaborative partnerships, a realistic sustainability plan, documented processes, and the capacity to monitor the program.
In addition to experience and expertise to implement a grant-funded program, an organization should be able to magnify the impact of its program(s) using collaborative partnerships with complementary organizations, have reliable data collection and analysis methods in place, and employ staff who can integrate an evidence- or research-based approach where applicable. An organization should also have documented program-related processes.
Evaluating Your Grant Management Process
Like the three areas mentioned above, government grant management will require more strategy, intention, collaboration, and oversight. We consistently stress that effective government grant management begins with an analysis of each Notice of Award and then the integration of what you learn from the analysis into your organizational procedures.
Your government grant management process should also have what we call a “center of accountability” to guide and oversee the grant from implementation to closeout.
Grants Works ASTACC Method(TM)
We developed the ASTACC Method three years ago and have taught that method in some of the training offered via Grants Works Academy. The method encapsulates an approach that begins with award analysis and centers compliance.
Evaluating Your Team’s Readiness
If your staff is shifting from managing foundation grants and there is insufficient capacity to competently manage your growing portfolio of federal and government grants, providing the necessary professional development is critical.
Among other benefits, ensuring your staff gets the necessary training enhances your organization’s capacity to find and apply for more grants, increases organizational preparedness for an audit or site visit from the funder, and costs less than a complex (and costly) audit.
If you are interested in working with a consulting firm with a proven success record in helping organizations enhance their grant management processes and provide training for your staff, contact the team at Grants Works. We offer grant consulting, grant management, training, speaking, and grant coaching services for your team.
Access on demand training about federal grants with the Federal Grants Simplified Membership.