It may seem counter intuitive but having a plan in place to manage a grant before you even begin to apply for grants is one of the best ways to improve your odds of getting more grants.  Having an effective system in place streamlines grant application processes, establishes strong communication within the team and with key stakeholders and funders, and ensures that once you get grant money you can effectively track how it is used.

1. Develop a Grant Management System

This means having the technology that will be used to keep everyone on the same page, track project expenses, revenues, and milestones, and meet reporting due dates laid out.  Have a template for putting the project timeline in place so that milestones and progress can be easily tracked.  Establish channels of communication for the grant team and key stakeholders and funders to keep everyone in the loop.  Every grant has many moving parts.  Clear channels of communication is a key component of any effective grant management system.  Be prepared to explain how grant funds will be tracked down to the dollar.

2. Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

Every stage of a grant is a complex process that requires effective delegation.  Make sure all roles are clearly defined as well as what is expected of each individual involved.  When everyone knows what is expected of them, the entire process can function efficiently.  Make sure that daily, weekly, monthly, and other periodic duties and report deadlines are clearly identified for each role and establish some form of chain of command for decision-making.

3. Prepare Boilerplate Materials and Organization and Program Documentation

It has been said that around 80% of a grant can be written before application.  Boilerplate materials are standard grant responses about the organization, its mission, the project, additional funding sources, budget information, needs assessments, and so forth that can serve as a baseline for a wide variety of grants your organization might apply for.  Identify documentation that grantors will always ask for organized and ready regarding your organization, the programs you will be seeking funding for, and its tax and financial information.

Having these three components ready before applying for grants shows funders that your organization or entity has ethical and transparent practices and is actually prepared to receive any grant that it is awarded.