Grant Services - Advice and Tips

Grants (Management) --> Stewardship

Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 11:07 AM / by Michelle Hansen

If a proposal is well-written, most of the mechanics in managing a grant consist of doing what you said you’d do in the proposal.  These tend to be fairly obvious:  Performoneym the activities proposed.  Collect data as promised in your evaluation plan.  Provide mandatory reports on time.  Notify the funding office of any significant changes from the proposed plan.  Meet any additional requirements mandated by the funding agency.  

What may be less obvious is the importance of going beyond the basic requirements—using the grant effort to strengthen the positive relationship with the funding agency and position your organization for additional funding.  It’s important to demonstrate to the funders that they are getting more than their money’s worth, that they made the right decision in funding your proposal.  Your ability to demonstrate wise, effective use of their resources goes beyond the basics of management into the realm of stewardship.  This article provides several activities you can follow to provide excellent stewardship of grant funds.  Hopefully, these ideas will spur you to come up with even more.  

  • Keep in Touch.  The official requirements are the bare minimum in the way of interactions with the funding agency.  Go beyond them.  Find opportunities to communicate informally.  Quick emails announcing significant events in the life of the project are an obvious way to do this.  Occasional phone calls are usually welcome as well.  Any major milestone the project reaches is a good reason to contact the agency.  Let them know what their funding has made possible, and express your thanks—and the thanks of those being served—for their support.  Frame you information in terms of how you are helping the funding agency meet its goals.

  • Make the agency part of the project.  Find ways to include the funding agency in key plans and decisions, if they are amenable.  Some examples:  “We are thinking of sponsoring a walk-a-thon to attract additional project contributions, with your name on the posters to help provide credibility.  Is this aligned with your goals?”  “We are having trouble attracting Hispanics in the program, yet I see some of your other awardees have done quite well in this regard.  Would you provide contact information so that we can gain from their experience?” 

    Also in this category: invite agency representatives to your events, or simply to visit.  Most of the time they won’t be able to attend, but each invitation sends a strong message about your confidence, your interest in the agency, and your transparency.  And if they can attend, wonderful!  You have an opportunity for even greater engagement.

  • Find the right level of interaction.  Don’t bog down the agency with trivial details.  Keep your topics at a general strategic level, unless the agency expresses an interest in lower-level involvement.  While most funding agencies welcome to-the-point communications, a few prefer not to receive them.  You can check with the agency to make sure your information is welcome, both by asking explicitly and by paying attention to the type of response you get from the information you do provide.

  • Send publicity.  Most projects involve various kinds of publicity: fliers about the project, press releases, radio interviews, etc. Before producing media, check with the agency about their requirements. Some require advance approval, some have a style guide citing requirements for using their logo, and others will be happy with a copy after the release. Whenever you produce media in any format, share it with the funding agency.

  • Send examples of impact.  Huge enrollment in a funded activity?  Send the numbers to the funder.  Positive results from a survey?  Send them along.  Receive a heartfelt letter of gratitude from someone you’ve helped?  These are priceless; share them with the agency that made the program possible.  Pictures of activities and good works are indeed, as the saying goes, worth thousands of words.  Share them.

  • Make them look good.  Speaking of media, use publicity avenues to enhance the public image of the funding agency.  In fliers, prominently note the funding agency’s role.  In press releases and interviews, make their involvement conspicuous.  Feature the funder on your web site and Facebook page, with links to their agency.  Post “thank you” messages from those served on their Facebook page.

  • Ask for feedback.  When the opportunity occurs, explicitly ask the agency if it appears that you are on the right track, if they are pleased with the progress and impacts, if they would like to see any changes, etc.  Ask what else they are pursuing and would like to see happen.  Be on the constant lookout for agency goals you can address in future proposals.  Building relationships is as much listening, learning, and responding as it is broadcasting information.

We’d love to hear any other suggestions or ideas you might have.  Call, send us email, or respond to this article with a blog comment.


Photo Credit: Tax Credits

Topics: grant management, managing grants, grant stewardship, grant publicity, grant impacts, grant hints

Michelle Hansen

Written by Michelle Hansen

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