Grant management and grant approval processes vary depending on a foundation's focus (think government, medical research, or social and societal needs) and their grantees. But one thing is certain: everyone wants to ease the burden of the grants process – making a once arduous task quick and efficient for both grantees and employees alike. After all, the faster a grant is dispersed to enact real change, the better for everyone.
While every foundation caters to a unique mission and need, there are crucial structural changes that every organization can put in place to start accelerating their processes.
Five key ways to streamline your grants process
1. Organize Your Workflow Structure
Increase your efficiency with a workflow structure that’s engaging and contains clear repeatable steps. By reducing unproductive time spent figuring out what the next step of a process might be, you empower employees to leave the bureaucratic minutiae behind. Not only will this lead to greater efficiency, but you will see a spike in grantee satisfaction and engagement.
2. Standardize Your Grant Agreements
Foundations often use between six and 10 different grant agreements, which may only differ by a paragraph or two. These various agreements can burden grantees, who then have to decipher weighty legal agreements, and in some cases, spend unnecessary funds on legal reviews. This is certainly a reason many small nonprofits avoid working with foundations.
Determine what’s necessary in the eyes of the law and apply it equally across all grants, aiming to keep agreements and language as straightforward as possible.
3. Streamline Your Approval Dashboards
As the former Director of Grants and Impact Administration at the Knight Foundation, I’ve experienced firsthand how a foundation’s work often comes in unpredictable bursts, with fluctuating demand leading to high volumes of work. Sometimes external reasons are to blame, but more often its internal bottlenecks causing a sudden rush of work for certain departments. This might be due to missed communications with other parts of the business, or silos within program areas. However, having streamlined approval dashboards can ensure the work is always put in front of the right person at the right time.
4. Develop Efficiency Metrics and Reasonable Expectations
Employees have a variety of skill sets and performance levels. That’s why it’s critical to know how long every task in your process should take, and what the reasonable expectation of completion time should be. With that data, you will quickly begin to know whether or not you are delivering the right level of service both internally, and outwardly to grantees. The key things to know are: how long an approval should take, how long it takes to create a grant, and whether or not the time estimates you give grantees is accurate.
5. Create A Grant Prep and Due Diligence Checklist
Turn administrative tasks, like grant prep or due diligence checklists, into a manufacturing process. The process should be the same for every grant, every time. If you haven’t already, integrate sites like GuideStar and pull in publicly available information instead of searching for it. Organize and prepare your grants by tags and vertical so you can quickly answer questions and get to the data you’re looking for.
Ready to uplevel your grant management process? Then request a demo of Fluxx today.