Grant Management: A Complete Guide to How it Works and What to Expect

Stéphanie Grawehr February 11, 2022

In this post:

What is grant management? What do grant managers do? What can go wrong if a grant is mismanaged? What is the grant life cycle? Key tips to successfully managing a grant What do grant management tools help with? Grant management FAQ

Grants are a useful tool for funding worthwhile projects that help organizations address corporate social responsibility and drive corporate purpose.

But considering the procedure that comes with accessing and allocating grants, it’s important to follow a well-organized grant management process.

Grant management encompasses all of the organizational actions taken by grantseekers and grantmakers to simplify this complex undertaking.

To help in your approach, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide that walks you through:

  1.  What grant management is and how to use it to drive your corporate purpose
  2. Best practices for grant managers
  3. Potential setbacks when the grant application process is mismanaged
  4. Phases of the grant management process
  5. Key tips for managing grants effectively

With this guide, you’ll have all the details you need to effectively approach the grant management process to bring purpose-driven projects to life.

What is grant management?

Essentially, grant management is the administrative work and process that goes into accessing and fulfilling the requirements of a grant.

For both grantseekers and grantmakers, there’s a lot of organization involved in this process that can be improved by helpful management methods and tools.

This is important because grants are basically contracts. And if this contract stipulates the grant agreement – or the intended use of funds, implementation procedures, reporting requirements, and timelines – then grant management ensures that all parties follow-through on these conditions.

Thus, when properly executed, grant management helps organizations effectively allocate funds to meaningful projects that address corporate purposes.

So whether you’re an NGO seeking funds to finance your efforts or you’re a company hoping to streamline or improve the grantmaking process, everyone can benefit from a clear, well-managed approach.

And this approach will require an overseer – or grant manager – to outline and direct the process from beginning to end.

What do grant managers do?

Grant managers have the most important role when it comes to successfully realizing the grant process. As the leader of the charge, they manage grant logistics and coordination including effective communication, reporting, and administration.

This role exists on both the company and nonprofit side. And for nonprofits, they can also be referred to as grant writers.

The function of a grant manager is to collect relevant information on the progress and results of the grant to report back to key stakeholders.

This work includes:

  1. Defining a fluid process. This means creating workflows that support the grantseeking and grantmaking process by monitoring communication and addressing blockers.
  2. Managing and distributing reports. A huge portion of the grant process relies on financial reporting, so it’s necessary to establish a cadence of reporting and confirm that information is received by those who need it. Using grants management software like Benevity Grants can help amplify your program impact with robust reporting including metrics that are important to each of your stakeholders.
  3. Ensuring compliance. When it comes down to it, grant managers are responsible for meeting grant obligations. If a team member isn’t providing key information on the progress of the project, then they step in to keep the process moving forward.

As a company, it’s beneficial to work closely with the grant manager at your partner NGO throughout the grant’s entire lifecycle to avoid setbacks and inconsistencies.

With this open line of communication, staff members are prompted to manage expectations as issues arise, while sharing the progress of the grant over time.

One useful way to keep track of grant advancement is to schedule monthly check-ins to look over data and discuss any obstacles.  These meetings can also align with important deadlines, ensuring that all grant requirements are met in a timely manner.

What can go wrong if a grant is mismanaged?

By now, you probably have an idea of why effective grant management is important for organization purposes. But what are the risks that come with losing track of the grant management cycle?

There are a number of things that can go wrong throughout the grant period if you don’t follow a proper grant management system.

For example, mismanaging the grant lifecycle can lead you to:

  1. Miss obligatory targets. All grant programs are contingent on the grant recipient and grant maker meeting certain grant terms. Without proper management systems, it’s very likely that these crucial targets will not be met.
  2.  Lose track of the timeline. This is the most likely outcome of grant mismanagement. Without a system for keeping track of the entire grant lifecycle, it’s likely that team members will get caught up in internal processes and miss important deadlines.
  3. Misuse grant funds. When we lose our footing within the grant process, oversight and inconsistencies are much more likely. These little mistakes lead us to step outside of the original grant proposal, which could mean a misuse of grant money.
  4. Forfeit future funding. If any of the aforementioned results come up in the grant review process, it’s very likely that you’ll lose access to current funds. Meaning you’re unlikely to get more funding in the future. This is a big problem for both NGOs and companies alike, as both benefit greatly from grant programs.

Due to these reasons, we cannot stress enough how important it is to implement grant management. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, consider using grant management software like Benevity Grants to keep you on track.

But before we get into how these kinds of software tools can help you, let’s more clearly define the grant management process from beginning to end.

What is the grant life cycle?

Understand the full cycle of grant opportunities to apply best practices from the Pre Award to Post Award phases.


 Pre Award Phase

The main focus of the Pre Award stage is grant applications.

Here, it’s important for both grantseekers and grantmakers to have a clearly defined process for approaching the application process.

In this stage, grantmakers build a new grant program, establishing their grantmaking priorities. If you’re not sure what your grantmaking priorities are, we suggest you start with your corporate purpose.

Think about what kind of tangible impact you want to have on your local community. Take this answer and build it directly into your grant program to attract the most relevant applicants.

From there, when grantseekers conduct  their research to discover possible grant opportunities, they’ll come across your grant program and understand the criteria for presenting a strong application.

Once the applications are in, grantmakers evaluate the projects and choose the nonprofit organizations that they wish to support with funds.

If you’d like to access nonprofits that have already been vetted, consider working with a grants platform that does this part of the job for you.

Tips for grantmakers

It’s crucial to clearly define corporate purpose and communicate this within the  application process.

The more specific you are about your company values and the kind of impact you hope to have, the more relevant grant applications you will receive. Which means better allocation of funds in the long run!

Ease of application and security are other important points to keep in mind during the grant application process. Working with a grant management tool like Benevity Grants will help you implement strict data security, giving grantseekers the confidence to trust your organization when sharing privileged information.

Tips for grantseekers

Pay close attention to the organization’s mission while in the grant writing process.

Strong grant proposals demonstrate how the funds will be used to effectively drive the organization’s purpose and make a positive impact by approaching the issue in a meaningful way.

Additionally, keep in mind that grant writing can be a taxing process. It’s necessary to develop a strict timeline for completing grant proposals in order to meet deadlines.

Award Phase

Moving on from the Pre Award phase, we now come to the stage where grantmakers distribute grants to the nonprofit organizations with the strongest grant proposal.

Within this stage, companies evaluate the best use of grant funds and provide this grant money to worthy organizations.

There’s a lot to keep in mind at this stage. But if you’ve created an effective grant application, then the applications you receive should provide all of the information you need to help you make an informed decision.

The next step is to create a clear grant contract with well-defined expectations, timelines, and objectives. If this information is constructively communicated from the start, grant fulfilment will run smoothly from start to finish.

Tips for grantmakers

Create a detailed format and cadence for grant reporting and send it to the team at the nonprofit organization as soon as possible. This will ensure that you receive periodic reports with relevant updates that will help you stay on the same page throughout the grant process.

Tips for grantseekers

Communicate deadlines and expectations with your whole team to guarantee that you properly fulfill the grant contract.

Then, take a look at the reporting requirements as soon as possible to know what metrics you need to keep track of. That way, when it comes time for a program evaluation, you’re certain of your progress.

Post Award Phase

Finally, we reach the Post Award phase of grant funding, which includes implementation and completion of the grant agreement.

Here, effective grant management and reporting are key, as the grantmaking organization will review grants to ensure compliance.

If you keep up with grant reports, best practices, and the entire grant management process, you’ll likely find the Post Award review process to be a celebration of your successful collaboration.

For both grantmakers and grantseekers, this is a great feat and could set the stage for future grant funding.

Tips for grantmakers

Set up a system for communicating the cycle of the Post Award phase. This should include a list of deliverables that are necessary for the program staff to complete within the grant process timeline.

Then, communicate the success of the grant program externally to bring awareness to the work your company carries out to fulfill your corporate purpose.

Finally, this is a good moment to reflect upon your own internal process.

What worked well and what didn’t? Did you hit targets in terms of number of applications? How can you improve the process next time around?

Tips for grantseekers

The Post Award phase is when you get to share how you’ve made an impact with grant funds. Gather all of the information you can to make your case as to why your program was a success.

This is when the metrics that you’ve been tracking over the course of the grant management process will help to reinforce your hard work.

Key tips to successfully managing a grant

From Pre Award to Post Award, our goal is to help more companies and nonprofits make better use of grant opportunities.

Here are our top tips for leveraging grant management to make a positive impact.

Go in with a plan and identify the purpose

Grants are a powerful tool for propelling corporate purpose. But you can only tap into this power with  a deliberate and thoughtful funding plan that properly addresses this purpose.

By putting impact and the causes your company cares about at the heart of your grant program, you’ll help to bring this purpose to life.

Track progress and measure success

How can you be certain that grants funds are effectively allocated? Set specific metrics and impact requirements for measuring the success of your program and track them through a grant management tool like Benevity Grants.

When you put an emphasis on impact reporting from the start, everyone involved prioritizes your targets throughout the grant process.

Communicate with your team

Communication is the most important part of establishing a healthy grant management process. Using a tool to keep track of communication and pending tasks will help your team funnel through the grant management process with ease.

Create your vision

While a lot of the grant management cycle comes down to small technical outputs like workflows, communication methods, and metric tracking, there’s also a lot to be said for programs that have a clearly defined big picture.

By establishing a distinct, purpose-driven vision, you are more likely to discover nonprofit partners with the same goals.

Work from a grant calendar

Working off of a predetermined grant calendar will help everyone involved stay on schedule and deliver their work on time.

By the end of the long grant management process, you’ll be grateful to have established a grant calendar – even if it must be adjusted throughout the grant period.

Automate your application process

Make your life easier by adding customization to the application process to accept only comprehensive applications.

With cascading forms and connections to external databases, you’ll receive more relevant  and complete applications with all of the information you need to make an informed decision.

Work with management tools

Perhaps one of the best practices for grant management is working with tools that organize your project management systems, making it simple to follow through on the grant program.

From creating compelling applications to improving internal communication and more, using a grant management solution to create a comprehensive grant process is worth the investment.

What do grant management tools help with?

The best way to ensure that you manage grants effectively is to implement grant management software into your internal processes. This kind of solution is designed to simplify a complicated system, keep you on track, and offer better grant opportunities.

If you’re looking to give your employees the power to make grants, consider working with the Benevity Grants. Offering an extensive grants management solution, this grantmaking software will help you to improve:

The application process

Benevity Grants helps grantmakers simplify the process of reviewing thousands of applications by incorporating customer eligibility screening, dynamic workflow tools that route requests to appropriate reviewers based on customer criteria, and more.

All of this will enable you to capture the information you need to make more informed decisions, while keeping on schedule.

Internal communication

The Benevity Grants solution enables stakeholders to stay connected throughout the grant management process meaning your people stay engaged throughout the life cycles of your community investments.

This also means a more organized grant management system with the structure to stay in contact, meet deadlines, and notice inconsistencies in real time.

Discovering and investing in worthy causes

Finally, Benevity products like Benevity Grants and Alaya by Benevity help companies discover and reach vetted nonprofits in nearly 200 countries with a leading 99.5% payment success rate. This is crucial support for finding suitable nonprofit partnerships that are aligned with their corporate purpose to better invest grant funding.

By funding projects that deliver on your company’s values, you open yourself up to a number of benefits that exceed supporting your local community. Like for example, better engaging employees through causes they care about.

Employee engagement

We know that grants are an effective tool for supporting worthwhile causes. But more than this, they also provoke employees to feel more fulfilled, motivated, and loyal to their employer.

With the help of Benevity, you can take this model beyond grants and further into employee volunteering, donations, and more.

The platform is designed to help your employees do good at work by giving them access to worthwhile opportunities for contributing their time, resources, and personal effort.

Grant management FAQ

What is a grants management process?

A grants management process helps you to organize the stages of grant funding from start to finish.

With a lot of moving parts within the pre-award, award, and post-award stages of grants, it’s crucial to develop a process that enables everyone involved to stay on track throughout the entire grant period. Without this, companies and partner nonprofits risk delivering on grant conditions.

What does grant management include?

Grant management includes the systems that enable you to effectively communicate, build useful workflows, and track impact throughout the entire grant process.

This can also embody the tools you use to improve the grant application process, internal communication, and your methods for connecting with suitable nonprofit organizations.

How do Benevity’s grant management tools work?

Benevity’s grant management software helps to streamline and scale your granting program by empowering your employees to get involved in your community investment program. Because if you’re overwhelmed with the what of your corporate granting initiatives (reviewing applications, managing budgets, collecting data, etc), it’s difficult to communicate how your program is changing lives. With the help of Benevity products like Benevity Grants and Alaya by Benevity, you can easily:

1. Access a global database of vetted nonprofits
2. Simplify grant request management
3. Take control of budgeting
4. Make better grant decisions
5. Know and share your impact
6. Get your employees involved from the start

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