The Guide to Creating a Grant Management Framework 2024

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Creating a grant management framework is crucial for grant recipient organisations looking to win more grants, operate efficiently, and grow their portfolio.

With the complexity of grant requirements across different funders and industries, on top of the increasing need for accountability and demonstrable impact, organisations that don’t have a framework set upfront will fall behind in their ability to compete and be less effective in their decision-making.

Let’s explore what you need to consider when developing a grant management framework for 2024 and beyond.

Understanding the basics of a grant management framework

For organisations that depend on grant funding for revenue, a grant management framework serves as a guiding structure that outlines the processes, roles, and responsibilities involved in the grant management lifecycle from pre-award to post-award and closeout.

A comprehensive grant recipient framework should consist of three pillars:

1. Governance

  • The types of grants your organisation applies for
  • What steps are taken from research to application writing
  • The roles and responsibilities of team members that carry out the above

2. Systems

  • The tools and software you use to run your grant management process
  • The data informing your team’s decision-making
  • Repeatable processes for repeated tasks

3. Communication

  • Internal communication of updates and critical dates to relevant stakeholders
  • External communication on grant impact on your community

A well-designed framework is core to strong internal communication and collaboration when it comes to applying for the right grants that align with your strategy as a government, higher education, or non-profit organisation. It also ensures compliance with grant requirements so you don’t jeopardise prospects of additional funding with the grantmaker.

Your framework, once complete and documented internally, should be a living guide that evolves as your grant portfolio grows and your operations mature.

Why governance is important in your grant management framework

Choosing what grants to apply for (and what not to apply for)

Grant-dependent organisations may become overly focused on applying for grants without considering which grants are appropriate for their goals and resources. As a result, they can exhaust their resources and their funding for grant seeking and application if they overreach. The first element of excellent grant management is defining what you will apply for, why it makes sense to apply for it, and how it will relate to whatever outcome you want to achieve.

Standardised pre-award processes

Standardised processes, especially in pre-award stages, ensure that every time we apply for a grant, manage a grant, or are awarded a grant, the actions and results plan we have in place is thought out and repeatable. It’s worth spending time documenting the steps for all repeatable tasks, and regularly communicating where they live so they remain visible. Without standardised processes, your grants team are left to ‘make it up as they go’ and in the event people are absent, unavailable, or leave the organisation, you lose all knowledge of how to continue.

Assigning roles and responsibilities

As we know, a lot of success comes down to execution. In addition to having the right team, it is important to be clear about the roles and responsibilities of your grants team.

Rather than treating grant management as a small part of someone’s role, take stock of:

  • Who is currently spending time on grants in your team?
  • How much time is this taking?
  • What tasks are they doing and how?
  • What tasks are not being done, done well, or lack ownership?

Look at the staffing of your grant management framework as a cost centre — and get serious about the fact that the organisation is spending money to attract more grant funding. A great set of roles and responsibilities will clarify who has accountability for the results of your grant management framework, what success looks like, and how it is measured.

Don’t have the budget to have a dedicated headcount for grant management? Software can be a good way to bridge that gap. Read more about choosing the right grant management software for your organisation.

Steps to create a grant management framework

Developing a grant management framework involves a step-by-step process that takes into account the unique needs and requirements of your organisation.

Identifying your grant management needs

Start by assessing the current state of your organisation’s grant management and think ahead about its future needs.

  • What types of grants are you currently winning?
  • Do you want to grow the revenue you’re bringing in through grants?
  • How many more grants would you need to win in the following year to achieve that?
  • What milestone reporting requirements are typically set by the grantmaker? What’s the cadence?
  • How many staff are focused on grants at the moment? Is this enough?
  • What tools and software might you need to achieve this? What are you already using?

This analysis will help you identify the key components and features your framework should include.

Furthermore, it is essential to involve key stakeholders in this identification process to ensure a broad perspective and early buy-in. Collaborating with other teams is an opportunity to foster support for your grant management framework at the very beginning, and get a better understanding of your organisation’s present and future grant needs, so the framework you build will be truly reflective of your goals and objectives.

Designing your framework structure

Once you have a clear understanding of your organisation’s present and desired state, you can begin designing the structure of your grant management framework.

Determine the different stages of the grant application process, such as:

  1. Grant searching and research
  2. Application requirements planning
  3. Application writing and stakeholder review
  4. Stakeholder review and additional requirements gathering
  5. Risk assessment and executive sign-off
  6. Application submission and outcome tracking
  7. Award funding disbursement
  8. Milestone reporting requirements and cadence
  9. Acquittal reporting
  10. Grant closeout tasks

Establish clear guidelines, timeframes for escalation, and next steps for decision-making within the framework. By setting out transparent processes for putting together all of your grant applications, you can ensure accountability, consistency, and governance in your grant management practices.

Implementing your grant management framework

A grant management framework that doesn’t get adopted is pointless, so be sure to think ahead about how it needs to be communicated internally, and who needs to help implement it. This ensures that people know what to do when your framework is live (and what not to do).

For example, to help people stay consistent, consider documenting:

  1. Tools and templates that facilitate the execution of the framework
  2. Decision-making workflows or RACI charts to guide new starters
  3. Standardised application forms for annual grants
  4. Pre-answering common evaluation criteria

Moreover, regular monitoring and review of the framework’s effectiveness with your team and relevant stakeholders are essential for identifying areas for improvement and making adjustments. By collecting feedback from users of the grant management framework, reviewing key performance indicators, and conducting periodic reviews, you can ensure that the grant management framework remains relevant and responsive to the evolving needs of the organisation.

Future trends in grant management

As we look to the future, several trends are likely to shape the field of grant management:

Technological advancements and their impact

Advancements in technology, such as automation, artificial intelligence, and data analytics, will all progress grant management processes beyond the current state of spreadsheets and manual processes. Embracing grant management software like SurePact can lead to increased efficiency, improve decision-making, and allow your organisation to demonstrate transparency in its grant strategy.

The role of data in grant management

Data-driven decision-making will become increasingly important in grant management. Organisations that do data collection, frequently and religiously, and then analyse and report on it, will be better equipped to demonstrate the impact of their grant management and make informed decisions about resource allocation.

At SurePact, we believe organisations that have up-to-date, easily accessible, integrated data will have the upper hand when it comes to continuously winning bigger and better grants to serve their vision. With features such as “Ask SurePact”, we are already helping grant-dependent organisations surface accurate, live data without the need for advanced knowledge of data analytics.

Sustainability and ethical considerations

Another significant trend in grant management is the growing emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices. Donors and grantmakers are increasingly prioritising projects that have a positive impact on the environment and society. This shift towards sustainable grantmaking requires organisations to not only focus on allocating funding to recipients who align with their vision but also consider the long-term implications of who they fund and partner with.

In conclusion, creating a grant management framework requires careful planning, attention to detail, and ongoing evaluation. Organisations that understand the basics, follow a systematic approach, and embrace flexibility can improve how they manage grant money while demonstrating a higher level of accountability and transparency.

Is it time to take your grant management framework to the next level? Connect with us today and see how SurePact’s grant management software fits into your organisation’s processes.

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