Because local governments rely on grants for funding projects not covered by tax revenue, knowing how to land a grant will help you serve your community in the best possible way. You might be seeking funding for the operation and support of various community programs, the construction of infrastructure projects, or the acquisition of certain equipment. Or you might want grant funding for emergency assistance in the event of natural disasters or health crises. Grant management can be complex and challenging. Having a grant strategy will help you to manage your grants effectively.
Successful Grantsmanship Starts Here
From the very beginning, the grant application process should be clearly defined; approval should be centralized, and any awarded grants should be acknowledged by the local government agencies in the board’s minutes.
When awarded, every grant should be assigned a grant manager responsible for the execution of the grant program. That manager should serve as the liaison between the local agency and the grantor and should oversee the compliance of grant requirements, including:
|· Cash Management
· Allowable Costs
· Period(s) of Performance
|· Program Income
· Subrecipient Monitoring
· Matching Requirements
Grant managers would also see to other special requirements specific to the program. He or she is the point of contact for grant compliance and must become knowledgeable about all compliance requirements. Part of the manager’s job is to review the OMB compliance requirements along with the assistance listing website, the grant agreement, and award letters. They would also be wise to stay on top of constantly evolving grant requirements and share the information with their team.
A Budget for the Grant Funds
If not already done, the grant manager should establish a budget based on the amount awarded and in accordance with the fund’s availability period. He or she needs to develop processes with their team to maintain and collect data and records of the grant activity to facilitate compliance monitoring and financial reporting. In addition, maintaining key performance metrics on the program will allow the grant manager to evaluate the program goals and demonstrate the value of the grant program to the agency’s board and constituents. A critical aspect of compliance is maintaining a calendar of due dates to ensure the timely submission of financial reports and funding drawdowns.
How the Grant Manager and Grant Accountant Work Together
Grant accounting should be assigned to a person in the finance department responsible for all grants awarded to the local agency. The grant accountant should work closely with each grant manager to ensure proper accounting control from the start and throughout the period in which the funds are available. Grant revenues and expenditures should be segregated for each grant awarded by project or by fund, depending on the grant requirements. Grant financial reports should be reviewed and approved by the grant accountant before submission to ensure compliance with the accounting records and for accurate reporting. The grant accountant is responsible for reconciling the grant activity at the end of the fiscal year and setting up accrual accordingly. The grant close-out process should be a coordinated effort between the grant manager and the grant accountant.
The Bottom Line
Defining a fluid process by establishing clear workflows with well-defined segregation of duties will facilitate program leadership for the grant manager, improve compliance, and increase communication and financial reporting. It may also result in larger percentage of awarded grants, which will always make the local agency’s constituents happy—especially if you live there.