What is grant management?

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Your guide to grant management, from the key stages of the grant management cycle to the challenges, solutions and benefits of grant funding.

A comprehensive guide to grant management for Local Government Authorities (LGAs), non-profit organisations, higher education institutions, and private enterprises. 

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The world of grants and funding is a complex and dynamic environment. From finding and applying for the right grant to the intricacies of meeting reporting obligations, grant management can consume an extensive amount of valuable resources.

While every grant starts with good intentions, the road from inception to outcome isn’t always smooth – and that’s often due to the conventional methods of grant allocation, application, and administration.

As a grant management software solution for grant makers and recipients, we’ve seen it all – the complexities, the frustrations, and the solutions. We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of grant management, from the challenges it presents, to how to streamline your grant process for impactful results.

In this article, we’ll cover:

What is grant management?

Grant management is the strategic coordination of administrative tasks essential for securing, fulfilling, and maximising the impact of grants.

“It encompasses the full lifecycle of a grant, from inception to completion,” says Daniel Pritchard, CEO of grant funding platform SurePact.

At its core, grants are a revenue stream where one entity provides funds to another for a public benefit. Unlike a loan, a grant is bestowed upon the recipient without any expectation of repayment.

“Think of a grant as financial assistance earmarked for a specific purpose,” says Daniel.

“Grant management is like the roadmap to ensure those dollars reach exactly where they need to go, and do exactly what they’re meant to do.”

Grant management is a lengthy process that typically involves two main groups:

  • The grantmaker: Also referred to as the grantor, grant giver, funding body or funder. This person or organisation is responsible for the creation of the grant opportunity, from conceiving grant applications to announcing them, distributing funds, and collecting essential reports.
  • The recipient: Also known as the grant seeker or grantee. This person or organisation is searching for grant opportunities. This involves applying for the grant, managing the funds received and providing the necessary reports or other documentation to the funding body.

For grantmakers, grant management isn’t just a process; it’s the compass that steers the allocation, distribution, and use of funds to optimally serve the community’s needs.

For recipients, grant funding is often the lifeblood that enables them to do impactful work, from LGAs and non-profit entities to higher education institutions and private enterprises.

“Both sides hold equal significance in the grant management process,” Daniel says, “which ultimately leads to successful outcomes throughout a grant’s life cycle.”

The key stages in a grant management cycle

Grant management is a journey that unfolds through distinct stages. Communication and collaboration is required to ensure a seamless process from inception to outcome.

The lifecycle of a grant consists of three key phases: pre-award, award, and post-award.

Pre-award stage

For grantmakers, the pre-award stage is where the Program Owner shapes the funding program and conducts comprehensive risk assessments, seeking approvals along the way. Subsequent steps involve initiating the Expression of Interest (EOI) process, evaluating business cases, and determining funding allocations through an assessment panel.

For grant recipients, the pre-award phase is when grants officers look for or are notified of potential funding opportunities and craft grant applications. This involves risk assessments and the pursuit of necessary approvals. Following review and approval processes, the EOI response is developed.

Award stage

The award phase sees the coordination of signatures on the Head Agreement, which sets out the key terms, followed by efficient fund release, with ongoing updates to foster transparency.

For grant recipients, this phase mirrors a similar trajectory. The grant officer will orchestrate Head Agreement signings, ensuring the grant’s commencement.

Post-award stage

As the cycle concludes into the post-award phase, Program Owners review progress claims, acquittals, and outcomes reporting, with payments made visible to finance managers. 

Likewise, essential project delivery details are diligently uploaded by the recipient or grants officer, while claims, variations, and project closure requests are submitted for approval.

In essence, the grant management cycle embodies a comprehensive orchestration, involving multiple stakeholders, to translate grant aspirations into tangible outcomes. 

Grantmakers lifecycle from pre-award to post-award

The challenges in grant management

While grants continue to play a crucial role in bolstering organisations across diverse sectors, the efficient administration of these funds presents a series of challenges. 

Below, we highlight some of the hurdles that can emerge in instances where the grant management process lacks essential clarity and structure.

1. Lack of visibility over allocated funds

Navigating the complex web of grant management can sometimes lead to a lack of clarity over how allocated funds are being used. Without a clear overview, the efficient allocation and strategic distribution of resources can be compromised.

2. Missed targets and timelines

For a multitude of steps throughout the entire grant lifecycle, there’s a risk of targets and deadlines falling through the cracks. Without a robust mechanism in place, important milestones might be overlooked, potentially hindering the successful execution – and the very purpose – of the grant.

3. Misuse of grant funds

The intricate grant management process can sometimes create loopholes that result in the inadvertent misuse of grant funds. These instances of fund mismanagement can occur due to gaps in oversight, leading to deviations from the intended project goals. 

4. Staff turnover means lost processes

The departure of staff members can trigger a loss of critical knowledge and processes integral to effective grant management. This disruption can disrupt the continuity of projects and hinder the seamless flow of the grant lifecycle.  

Industry-specific challenges

These challenges span across industries, with each sector grappling with its unique set of hurdles:

Local Governments: Trust deficits among ratepayers have raised concerns about the transparency of fund use, potentially hindering the intended community benefits. Inefficient project management further exacerbates the issue, causing substantial financial losses.

Private Sector: The private sector grapples with data inundation and paper trails, leading to inefficiencies in managing business funding. Manual reporting and outdated data present bottlenecks and delays, hampering effective benefit delivery.

Higher Education: Funding uncertainties brought on by the pandemic have prompted shifts in higher education’s financial landscape. With reduced research funding, a focus on maximising value for each dollar spent is paramount.

Not-for-Profits (NFPs): Digital transformation has driven material changes to funding models for NFPs, necessitating adaptable strategies to remain effective.

In a landscape where grant and funding mangement can resemble a maze, it’s clear that the need for transparency, efficiency and streamlined processes has never been more important.

The benefits of effective grant management

Effective grant management isn’t just about following a set of rules – it’s about unlocking a realm of benefits that improves the entire process. 

To fully harness the potential of grant resources, diligent management is paramount. Here’s how embracing solid grant management practices can transform your approach.

1. Trust assurance and enhanced transparency

Effective grant management instills trust by transforming fund handling into a transparent process. Immediate clarification of queries fosters community trust, and comprehensive reporting conveys financial transparency.

2. Maximised grant revenue

No funding opportunity is overlooked with efficient grant management, ensuring optimal fund use. Real-time financial visibility allows proactive decision-making, preventing revenue leakage.

3. Real-time risk management and compliance

Stay attuned to potential risks and maintain effective controls with real-time risk management. Achieving and upholding compliance becomes effortless, lightening the administrative load and minimising contingency risks.

4. Streamlined processes and impactful decision-making

A fluid grant management process includes clear workflows and communication. Transparency across all levels enhances decision-making quality and guides future actions for a positive impact. 

A well-managed process empowers grantmakers to qualify and reflect upon the achieved impact, enabling them to track gains, losses, and societal effects within the grant program.

Streamline your grant management process

It’s virtually impossible to foster the communication, collaboration and transparency required for effective grant management with unwieldy Excel spreadsheets and lengthy email chains. Daniel says that’s why his company has developed grant management software that takes the complexity out of this traditionally labyrinthine endeavour.  

“At SurePact, we understand every stage of the grant management lifecycle for funding bodies and recipients alike,” he says. “As your single source of truth, SurePact unifies stakeholders on one powerful platform, where grants and funding programs can be created, applied for, allocated and administered.” 

Ready to streamline processes, minimise risk, and unlock your funding’s full potential? Book a demo now to discover the transformative power of SurePact. It’s grant management, redefined.

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