4 Priorities for New Leaders in Grant Management

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For organisations heavily reliant on grants, and also distributing a lot of grant funding, the efficiency and effectiveness of their grant management program is a tell-tale sign of how sustainable they will be in the future.

Let’s dissect what a new leader needs to focus on when it comes to actionable metrics, quick wins and long-term success when they join a grant-dependent organisation.

#1: Check the pulse on the organisation’s grant management with a gap analysis

The first step in enhancing grant management efficiency is conducting a gap analysis to assess the current state of your grant operations.

Instead of directing the questions at the grant management team, as a leader, you should go to your peers first — other leaders in the business.

The key questions to ask are:

  • How successful is our grant program?
  • How expensive is the grant program?
  • How do we measure the success of our grant program?

Insights into these questions will help you better understand how grant management is perceived within the organisation and identify improvement opportunities.

If they can’t answer the questions, that’s also enlightening information about how mature your organisation’s grant operations are and tells you if the grant program just needs stronger internal advocacy or a complete overhaul.

#2: Calculate your Grant Management Efficiency Ratio

We all know the saying: ‘What gets measured gets managed’.

To put a number on your grant management efficiency, the best way is to find out what your organisation’s Grant Management Efficiency Ratio is.

Here’s how you calculate it:

Cost of grant administration ($) / Grants distributed ($)

For example:

If your administration cost is $250,000 a year and your grant programs distribute $4,000,000 a yearthen your Grant Management Efficiency Ratio is 1:16.

Make sure you include wages, software subscriptions, membership, and promotional costs in your administration costs.

By tracking this metric over time, you can now assess the efficiency of your grant management efforts and evaluate the impact of any changes made to the process.

#3: Enhancing systems, processes, and training

In addition to financial metrics, evaluating the effectiveness of systems, processes, and training for the grants team is essential.

Assess whether you have:

  • Efficient Processes
    • Do we have an efficient, repeatable process for grant management?
  • Supportive Systems
    • Do we have systems and technology to support our dream grant management process?
  • Training Programs
    • Are grant team members well-trained to perform their roles effectively?

Engaging with and seeking feedback from staff involved in grant administration will shed light on where the pain points and opportunities are.

Take those insights and combine them with what you’ve learned about the perception of other leaders and the organisation’s Grant Management Efficiency Ratio to start crafting plans for business improvement.

#4: Analysing win and loss rates on grants

Finally, analyse the win and loss rates on grants from the last 5-10 years, and identify trends to inform future strategies.

“Every time we close out a grant, be it a win or a loss, we should be asking the question: Why did we win it? Why did we lose it? Try to pick out the trends within that,” says Dan.

“And if we lost it because we didn’t represent ourselves in our application appropriately or we were misaligned to the grant, or they were just competitors that represented themselves better than we did — there’s some learning we can take from that. If we did win it, that’s great, because we want to double down on whatever it was that attracted that funder to us — and with other funders in the marketplace as well.”

By asking questions such as why a grant was won or lost, organisations can glean valuable insights into their performance and areas for improvement. Learning from past experiences and doubling down on successful strategies can enhance organisations’ competitiveness and increase their chances of securing funding.

Next steps: Craft and share your 90-day plan for grant management improvement

As a new leader in a grant-dependent organisation, maximising grant efficiency should be top of mind, especially if your role focuses on financial sustainability or growth.

Creating a culture with good grant management practices requires a tactical approach, honest evaluation, a strategic eye, careful planning, and continuous curiosity. By asking the right questions, measuring the right metrics, and fostering a culture of learning and adaptation, you can help your organisation optimise its grant management efforts and drive long-term success.

Take action by adding any of these four focus points to your 90-day plan, or share this article with a colleague who might be interested in grant management best practices.

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