Grant Management vs Grant Administration: What’s the difference?

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Understanding the nuances between grant administration and grant management is essential for government and purpose-driven organisations that want to ensure their grant operations align to delivering impact and maintaining trust — not left as an afterthought.

Learn the distinctions between grant administration and grant management, the importance of effective grant management, and the role of post-award grant management software in bringing outcomes back into alignment with grant promises.

Why is grant management important?

Grant management is the backbone of revenue for local government (LGA), non-profits, research organisations, and more. It encompasses a range of critical functions that go beyond mere administrative tasks.

In talking to Dan Pritchard, CEO of SurePact, effective grant management is pivotal for ensuring compliance and accountability, building stakeholder trust, and securing ongoing funding.

  1. Ensuring compliance, accountability and risk prevention:
    • Having grant management systems and processes means your organisation is taking compliance with grant requirements and reporting standards seriously, fostering transparency and accountability.
    • Failure to adhere to grant criteria can result in funding delays or rescissions, undermining organisational credibility and trust.
    • Grant management involves identifying and mitigating risks associated with grant-funded projects, ensuring project success and sustainability.
  2. Driving impact with limited resources (the hygiene factor):
    • Effective grant management systems work like a well-oiled machine and maximise the impact of limited human resources.
    • With staff freed up to work on more strategy, organisations can align grant funding with specific goals that deliver tangible outcomes for their mission.
  3. Building (and maintaining) stakeholder trust:
    • Transparent and accountable grant management practices foster trust among funders, partners, and the community, enhancing collaboration and support for organisational initiatives.
  4. Securing ongoing funding:
    • Efficient grant management is essential for attracting and retaining ongoing funding.
    • Mismanagement of grants can lead to missed opportunities and hinder an organisation’s ability to fulfil its mission and deliver on objectives.

Grant management vs grant administration

At SurePact, we think grant management is so much more than just applying for grants, organising numbers on a financial report and filing paperwork.

The rise in ‘Grants Program Manager’ to #14 on LinkedIn’s list of the hottest jobs in the United States for 2024/2025 is a clear signal that organisations are recognising grant management as a function and a role in itself, not just squeezed into someone else’s job description as another task.

Organisations that want to preserve their funding bodies’ trust have chosen to systemise, document, and hold themselves accountable for how they manage the millions of dollars in grants they receive each year by making grant management a priority.

A few things those organisations would do, include:

  1. Ordering an audit of their grant administration processes
  2. Creating a new ‘Grants Officer’ role to ensure proper ownership
  3. Training and upskilling underutilised team members to focus on grants
  4. Investing in software to support their existing grants team

A lot of what makes good grant management is done before even applying for a grant:

  • Having grant application governance, including clear ‘yes’ and ‘no’ criteria, around what grants your organisation applies for, and doesn’t apply for.
  • Undertaking proper due diligence of whether your organisation can deliver all grant promises in the application, including co-funding requirements and construction start timelines, before receiving the money.
  • Identifying early any milestone reporting requirements, and ensuring you can meet them, before putting your already-stretched team under more pressure. Fill this gap with software or additional staff if needed, as failure to display accountability will quickly erode the trust of your funding body and affect future funding.
  • Having a centralised place for documenting the grants that will be applied for, and who owns it, so you can prevent duplicate applications.

The place for post-award grant management software

In navigating the complexities of grant administration, grant recipient organisations can leverage advanced post-award grant management software like SurePact.

Automated reporting, real-time analytics, and custom dashboards eliminate disparate spreadsheets and manual tracking, reducing human error and allowing your grant team to think strategically about how to allocate grant funding so that the greatest impact can be achieved.

Cloud-based software like SurePact is flexible and empowers organisations to maintain visibility of grant funds spent, track project progress and risks, ensure compliance with funding requirements, and demonstrate their impact to stakeholders and funding bodies.

Taking action: Suggestions for government and purpose-driven organisations

The distinctions between grant administration and grant management — one focused entirely on hygiene, and one seen as a strategic pillar — are clear.

Organisations need to consider these actionable steps to enhance grant management practices:

  1. Invest in training and capacity building: Provide staff members with comprehensive training and professional development opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in grant writing, financial administration, project management, and business process strategy. These building blocks are the foundation for developing a team that will drive a great grant management strategy.
  2. Embrace technology: Explore the adoption of grant management software, particularly covering post-award grant management, to capture grant processes in workflows, live reporting and automation. True growth comes from investment in both your people and your tools to improve efficiency and governance.
  3. Strengthen stakeholder engagement: Foster open communication and collaboration with stakeholders (both internal and external) by bringing them on your grant management journey. Seek community feedback, communicate intention, build trust and maintain alignment with the organisational mission across all facets.

By prioritising effective, good grant management practices and leveraging innovative solutions, government entities and purpose-driven organisations can maximise their impact, drive positive change, and achieve their mission-driven objectives.

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