It seems we talk a lot about how to write grants in the non-profit world. But how often do you see information on what to do after you win a grant? It seems not much! This is unfortunate because what you do after the grant is awarded (called grant management) plays a huge role in whether you’ll win more grants in the future.
So, after you’ve celebrated your grant win with cheers, squeals, or tears of joy, here are five simple steps to take that will keep your funders happy:
REVIEW YOUR GRANT PROPOSAL
The first thing to do after receiving notice of a grant award is to review the grant proposal you submitted. As you review, focus on two things: the activities you proposed and the timeline for implementation.
Since it often takes months for funders to respond to grant proposals, it’s possible some things have changed since you submitted your proposal. For example, you may have lost staff members or implemented other programs or services that are now taking up your staff’s time. These changes may make it difficult or even impossible to successfully implement the activities you proposed. If this is the case, you want to be prepared to share this information with the funder when you thank them for the grant.
You’ll also want to compare the amount you requested to the amount you were awarded. If the grant is for much less than what you requested and you don’t yet have other funds to support the activities you proposed, plan to share this with the funder as well.
After your review, you may realize you need to ask the funder for permission to modify your activities or timeline slightly, defer the grant until the following year, or respectfully decline the grant award.
THANK THE FUNDER
Now that you’re fully prepared to contact the funder, it’s time to show your gratitude. There are lots of ways you can thank your funders, but I recommend starting with a phone call.
Thanking your funder over the phone is beneficial for several reasons. First, it adds a personal touch and can help your funder feel truly appreciated. Second, a phone conversation provides an opportunity to discuss any changes you may need to make from your original grant proposal. And finally, you can check on the funder’s public acknowledgement preferences or requirements while you’re on the phone. Some funders have no problem with you sharing your gratitude publicly, some have very specific acknowledgement requirements, and some funders want absolutely no public notice of their award.
After the call, plan to send a handwritten thank you letter or card. From there, you can thank the funder on social media, in a newspaper announcement, through an interview with a local news station, etc. Really, the sky’s the limit for showing your gratitude, as long as you respect your funder’s wishes.
INFORM YOUR PARTNERS (IF APPLICABLE)
This step typically only applies if you submitted the grant proposal as a collaborative with other agencies or if partners agreed to provide some type of support (e.g., referrals, meeting space) if awarded. You may also want to inform any agencies that submitted letters of support on your behalf.
If you’ll be working with partners to implement grant activities, now is a good time to finalize the details of your collaboration and the associated memoranda of understanding or agreement.
PLAN FOR IMPLEMENTATION
If the grant you won is funding a new or expanded program, you’ll need to start planning for implementation. There’s no single best technique for planning. Your planning process will ultimately depend on the size of your organization, the relationship with your partners, and the size and requirements of your grant. Just make sure you include every person who needs visibility on the grant award and its requirements. This typically includes your program/service staff and managers, human resource and finance staff, and partner agency staff.
PLAN FOR GRANT REPORTING
Just like planning for implementation, you should start planning for grant reporting as soon as possible. Your funders will want to know what impact their money has had throughout the grant period.
If you didn’t receive reporting guidance with your notice of award, ask your funder about their formal reporting requirements and due dates. Then add those dates to your grant calendar now!
If your funder doesn’t have formal grant reporting requirements, plan to send at least one update in the middle of the grant year and one at the end. These updates typically include a review of your progress toward accomplishing the proposed activities, successes, challenges, lessons learned, financial information, and any relevant participant quotes and/or pictures. You may also want to send news stories, videos, or testimonials from clients or participants throughout the grant year.
Keep in mind – successful grant management begins as soon as you win a grant. There are many details to keep track of, but with a little planning and organization, you’ll be successful (and win more grants in the future!).