As you likely know, when you accept a grant award, you are entering into a legal agreement with the funding agency regarding how those grant funds will be spent. If you deviate from the acceptance agreement in any way – for instance, if you put some of the grant dollars towards a project not mentioned in your proposal or signed agreement, or if you fail to follow through on all of the reporting or other requirements such as required cost match - your organization could face serious trouble. Not only would you be jeopardizing your organization’s relationship with the funding agency, but your organization may have committed fraud – a criminal offense.
Luckily, such circumstances are not common, and there are some easy steps you can take to safeguard your organization. In this 2-part blog post, I’ll explore some questions to ask--both during the application process and on grant award--whose responses can help protect your organization.
Considerations for protecting your organization when applying for grants
Can your organization meet all of the grant program’s requirements?
This seems obvious, but it's important enough to reiterate. When an organization applies for a grant, it’s generally understood that the applicant can fulfill all of the requirements of that grant program. Agreeing to requirements your organization cannot adhere to (or perhaps did not fully understand) could be a cause for trouble. Prior to applying for a grant, ensure that your organization can fulfill all of the grant program’s expectations, including indirect rate structures, matching funds, and especially personnel requirements. (The COPS grant program, for instance, requires a 50% cash match.)
Can everyone perform as stated?
A grant proposal is not the place to embellish upon abilities or results. Once you have your grant proposal planned out, have your organization’s leadership sign off on your ability to accomplish what you propose. If your program includes collaborators, be sure to clarify roles and responsibilities prior to the grant’s submission and have the leadership of those organizations also sign off on the proposal.
Have you asked for any needed clarification?
Requests for proposals and grant guidelines are not always clearly written. If you have a question about expectations or requirements of a grant program, contact the funding office and ask for help. Document the response (email is fine or take note of who you spoke to and when), and keep that information in your files.
A Grant Helpers Proposal Review is a low-cost method to help safeguard your organization and your grant proposal. We’ll review the grant guidelines, proofread the proposal, and double check for compliance with grant requirements and program objectives. For more information, contact a Grant Helper.