Monitoring grant performance

It is imperative that you monitor the performance of any grant-funded project in order to maintain a friendly relationship with the grantmaker, as well as to ensure you run an effective project.

Winning a grant is only the start of the story. Now you have to monitor it.

Regular monitoring will help keep your project on track and foster a good working relationship with your grant program manager.

Monitoring a grant involves both financial supervision to ensure the grant is being spent on its purpose, and staff supervision to ensure performance is high and deadlines are met.

Mutual agreement

The monitoring process should begin the moment the grant is won.

It’s important that you can come to a mutual agreement on the monitoring process and timetable. If that information is not included in the guidelines or grant agreement, ask the grantmaker specifically what their monitoring and reporting expectations are.

You should also agree on how you should deal with any problems that crop up.

Once all terms are agreed upon the grantmaker may want to include them in the contract. This will make the process easy to follow and will ensure there are no unwanted surprises down the track. If they aren't included in the contract, keep a note yourself for future reference.

In-house agreement

Some people within your organisation may take offence to the monitoring experience. Make sure your team understands that it is a normal, positive and constructive activity that can help to enhance the effects of your grant money.

Ensure they know what information will be required when, and let them know with whom, and how, any monitoring reports will be shared.

Monitoring performance

The monitoring process is completed in two forms: the monitoring of staff and the monitoring of finances. Each of these can be completed in a number of ways, including;

  • Financial monitoring
    • maintaining progressive and well-structured expenditure reports that relate to this project alone (in most cases it's important to be able to isolate the costs of your grant-funded project from other projects and general operating expenses)
    • tracking expenditure against budgets, and keeping detailed notes explaining any discrepancies
  • Staff monitoring (this may apply to volunteers as well, if you are using volunteers to help carry out your project)
    • making sure staff are on track to meet deadlines set by the grantmaker and/or agreed to during the application/contract phase
    • supervising staff activities to identify any deviations from the intended purpose of the project
    • evaluating the impact of each staff member’s activities to ensure time is being effectively used and distributed throughout the project.
  • Milestone monitoring
    • Making note of significant project milestones (especially those pre-agreed with the grant maker)
    • Reviewing each milestone date to assess compliance, and documenting any deviations (including reasons for the deviation). Reporting to the grant maker as agreed/appropriate.

Correcting performance issues

Continuous performance monitoring ensures the project and funding are not put in jeopardy as major performance issues can be detected before anything occurs.

If a problem is identified it should immediately be dealt with so that any impacts on the project are minimised.

If you encounter a significant issue, you may need to inform the grantmaker, especially if it will affect your organisation's ability to meet deadlines or complete the project, or has the potential to cast the grantmaker in a bad light. Most grantmakers respond positivity to honesty, and will tend to opt for a helpful rather than punitive approach.

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