Category Archives: Grant Management

solicitation compliant
Grant proposals are a great way to achieve the funding of your nonprofit needs. But before you submit a proposal, it’s important to read through the fine print carefully. Many states have charitable solicitation laws, which can hurt your chances of receiving a grant if not followed correctly. 

These charitable solicitation laws are often overlooked, and could get you in trouble if they aren’t abided by. In this blog, we’ll go over the fine lines of applying for grants without solicitation, and how to avoid these common mistakes. 

solicitation compliant

Are grants considered charitable solicitation? 

Yes, most states categorize foundation grants as a type of charitable solicitation. In general, you should consider applying for grants as part of your compliance strategy. There are a few states that exempt government grants, so we advise researching state and grantmaker requirements before you submit a proposal. 

If my nonprofit has an IRS determination letter, can you apply for grants anywhere? 

Many organizations are guilty of assuming that having a 501(c)(3) determination from the IRS is all it takes to fundraise without limits, which includes applying for grants. However 41 states require you to file a separate registration, where you’ll provide the determination letter and additional information regarding your leadership team, finances, other fundraising activities, etc. 

If my organization wants to apply for funding, where should we register? 

In general, you should register in whatever state your funder is located in. In fact in every state except California, you’re required to register before any sort of solicitation. With that in mind, make sure you’re planning your registrations and grant applications ahead of time, and allow yourself extra time for any fallback.  

When submitting a grant proposal, does my nonprofit need to submit proof of charitable registration? 

The short answer is yes. It might depend on who issues the grant, but it’s very likely you’ll submit an IRS determination letter as proof. Especially living in a day and age where anyone can apply in a digital world, it’s important to show proof to distinguish your application from a large stack of noncompliant applicants. It’ll show the funder that you’re credible and qualified!

Does the grant total amount affect registration? 

The only way the total would affect registration is if the amount is so big that your nonprofit can’t qualify for the exemption anymore. And even then, exemptions could take other streams of revenue into consideration, so you might have to register regardless. Make sure you’re taking all added costs into account.

What happens if my nonprofit registers but we don’t receive any grant money? 

Remember, applying for the grant does not guarantee you’ll receive it. And by registering to solicit in order to apply for the grant, your application might be turned down. So be prepared, as you may register to solicit and not get a whole lot back. It’s super important to budget out for compliance and apply for funding wisely (especially in other states). 

How does my nonprofit stay compliant? 

If you want to do the most, you can register in every state that has registration. It’s tedious, but it’s a proactive way of ensuring you’re complying without fault. Most nonprofits don’t have the budget for this, so at the very least, register in the states you do most of your fundraising. 

If you need help with your grant proposals, RBW Strategy can help! We provide a variety of services, from prospect research to overall project management. Visit our services page and contact us on LinkedIn today!

How to Utilize a Grant Calendar to Increase Your Nonprofits Success
How to Utilize a Grant Calendar to Increase Your Nonprofits Success

Applying for grants is a competitive, time consuming task. And like any big project, grant proposals take a lot of organization and planning. Creating a grant calendar to track all grant related activities for your organization will keep you focused, get tasks done on time, and provide an overarching view of all the details that can make or break your application. And it’ll serve as a great template to use for other grants moving forward! 

So, what are the steps for creating a killer grant calendar? 

Step #1: Choose a template or software. 

The format you choose will vary depending on your team and the grant itself. Some organizations like to break things out into monthly spreadsheets, where others prefer to use a project management software like Asana or Monday.com, and some might use a preferred funder software or CRM tool like Bloomerang, GrantHub or SalesForce. Whichever way you choose, make sure you’re doing the best you can to align the grant’s timeline and your employee’s workload. Try to make it as intuitive, clear, and concise as possible. You should be able to see an overall snapshot of the month, and the status of the application and deadlines should be clear. If you’re working on various tasks with multiple people, make sure you’re using something like a Google Doc where you can collaborate effectively. 

 

Step #2: Review past grants. 

Taking a step back to look at previous grants can provide a lot of insight on how you can improve your processes moving forward. What parts of your previous grants were organized well? Where were the gaps? What steps can you put in place to ensure you’re using your time efficiently? In particular, make sure to review the amount of funding you received, how much time it took to submit the application (and follow up), and what the chances look like of receiving the funding again. It’s important to do this on a recurring basis, as the grant application process changes frequently. 

 

Step #3: Establish hard deadlines, and flexible deadlines. 

Once you have decided which grants to apply for, prioritize your plan with those that have hard deadlines. This will be the skeleton in which you’ll plan the rest of your submissions, so you can maneuver the more flexible deadlines. 

 

Step #4: Align with other priorities. 

Surely, this grant isn’t the only task on your organization’s docket! Make sure you’re taking other projects and their timelines into consideration before creating another one. You may have to frequently adjust this and be flexible based on the other projects. Always allow yourself a bit more time than you think you’ll need, especially for revisions. 

Really take some time to think about what the task requires. Do you have the accurate data needed to complete the task? If you don’t, how long will it take to get that data? 

 

And there you have it! If you’re looking for assistance in the grant process, RBW Strategy can help! We provide services in grant prospect research, to writing, all the way up to project management. Visit our services page for more info and contact us today!  

 

My son used to watch the series “Bob the Builder” when he was fascinated/obsessed with construction vehicles. Bob always had a plan and also had all the tools he needed to get the job done. As professionals in the nonprofit and grants community, we have to use almost every tool in our arsenal (and take advantage of free ones) to gather and track data. However, we are often left without the tools that are really needed, and why we evenneed to do this in the first place.construction-worker-569126_640

  1. Data = Power. When you have data to measure the impact of your programs, not only have you irrefutably sell your programs and organization, but you can obtain ambassadors to support you as well. This can take months or even years to establish, but this is so important given the heightened intensity of grant competitions and retaining long standing (and new) funders.
  1. Good Data vs. Bad Data. Take some time to think through what you are trying to gather – outputs are important, but they don’t tell you the story of whether your proof of concept or program actually led to positive outcomes and impact. Make sure what you track is actually measuring the goals you have set forth, and include applicable stakeholders in the process.
  1. Data Tracking – Laying the Foundation for Success. I cannot stress this enough, but if you want to spend money on something, it would be a tool, consultant, software and/or in-house expert who can develop an evaluation plan and resources to track data. It may be a financial investment up front, but will reap rewards down the road.
  1. Check and Re-check. Make sure your data is accurate and review/analyze this information on a regular basis. People make mistakes (including technology) so you will want to ensure that you are getting what you need from the resources you are using.
  1. Share with Others. Now that you have some great information, share it through your social media sites, newsletters, conferences, and marketing materials. You now have an arsenal of information!

The ingredients to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies are fairly straightforward – flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, milk, chocolate chips, and few other items. You mix then together, bake, and then you get a delicious treat. Well, what happens when you do not have flour and you ran out of chocolate chips? You have the intention, but fail to deliver on the cookies you so desperately desire. The same is true for managing a grant. You want the money, you need the money, but sometimes you just don’t have all of the ingredients.

The question becomes, how you cookies-1264263_640do get the recipe for success when you have limited resources?

Let’s think through some of the resources that may be lacking and how you can build your capacity:

Financial: This is tough, because lack of adequate funds will not allow your organization to achieve its goals. The only way to resolve this is to build an infrastructure to strategically request funding, and to work within your financial limits. Establish short-, mid- and long-term goals with your Board to map out a plan for future growth and establish operational and programmatic priorities.

Personnel: Create a chart of all the responsibilities related to grant functions that need to take place from creating a prospect list to putting together a budget and then post-award processes, such as grant reporting. One person cannot possibly be responsible for all of these items. If these tasks can be shared across a pool of individuals (even if it’s only 3) the weight will be not be as heavy on 1 person’s shoulders.

Technology: There are many free and inexpensive online tools and templates available to support grant tracking, management and software. Determine the resources you lack and then look online through Capterra or some other sites that rate software so you can determine the tools needed to support your work.

Knowledge and Skills: There is a plethora of online webinars and in-person trainings that you can take advantage of so you can enhance your knowledge capacity. Foundation Center, Grant Space, Grant Professionals Association are just a few, but there are many others (include Slide Share) where you can access free content online.

Let’s say you are a grantee and in order to execute your programs, you need to include partners in order to meet your outcomes and they help execute your deliverables. However, these are not just any partners, these are commonly referred to as subrecipients. Many organizations need subrecipients, as they themselves do not have the capacity to perform all program related tasks. This is a unique relationship, and must be treated carefully.window-1231894_640

However, before we start talking about oversight of these subrecipients, let’s distinguish subrecipients from vendors.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) offers up the following definitions:
Subrecipients = An entity that expends awards received from a pass-through entity (i.e. grantee) to carry out a project.

Vendor/Contractor = Generally a dealer, distributor or other seller that provides, for example, supplies, expendable materials, or data processing services in support of the project activities.

This classification is important as the OMB’s Uniform Grant Guidance (2 CFR 200) is more focused on grant recipient oversight of their subrecipients, in order to ensure transparency and accountability of federal funds. What are some steps you can follow to ensure you are in compliance with the Uniform Grant Guidance, and also establish best practices for subrecipient oversight on other grants expended?

1. It’s all in a name – Your organization must clearly define the relationship of the organization – are they a subrecipient or a vendor? A good rule of thumb is, review your project plan or outcomes. Are any of your partner organizations integral in completing the activities you have described? Are they needed to meet outcomes? In general, vendors are ancillary to the process and provide expertise and guidance, rather than hands on activity support.

2. Setting the stage – Once you have determined whether the partners are subrecipients vs. vendors, you need to establish a plan for providing oversight over the subrecipients. This plan should include how you will oversee that: a) the costs are in line with the budget, and you have all financial documents on file, b) you conduct regular status checks (monthly, quarterly, etc.) to ensure activity targets are being met, c) communicate your monitoring plan with subrecipients and provide technical assistance to ensure they have all information needed.

3. Don’t forget about the audit – If you receive over $750,000 in federal funds within a fiscal year, you must receive an A-133 federal audit. The subrecipient monitoring is especially important. Review the A-133 compliance supplement and work with your auditor to ensure that you have all the information required, and prepare your subrecipients in the same way.

Grants Management
Lately I have received multiple requests to support organizations with post-award support. While the specifics differ between organizations, the general story is the same. An organization experiences a substantive uptick in the number of grant awards received, or are the recipient of one or more large grant awards (generally federally funded). While this support speaks to the strength of the organization able to receive such funding, now they have to come tGrants Managemento terms with what I refer to as “Post Award Blues.” While most nonprofits spend their time obtaining those precious grant funds, they are less focused on how the receipt of these funds will impact the organization. Due to the crucial importance of this topic, I am dedicating several blog posts on grants management related issues. This post is the first post of the series, and will focus on reporting.

What do you need to know about reporting? Well, let’s think about this scenario. If you lend someone $2,500, you would want to know a few things: 1) How did he/she spend the money?; 2) When will you be repaid?; and 3) Will he/she need additional money? The same is true for funders. In general, reporting on grant funding varies depending on the funder, size of award, and complexity of the grant. In addition, you are generally required to provide programmatic and/or financial reports. Federal agencies generally require structured reports (usually require use of OMB forms) on at least an annual basis, and quarterly financial reports. However, private, corporate, and family foundations may not require financial reports at all, and just expect programmatic status updates.

In order to avoid any problems, just think about these tips:

  • Plan Ahead: Do not wait until the last minute. Use some kind of grants management tool or spreadsheet to track upcoming reporting deadlines.
  • Think of CQI: Reporting should be part of the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) of your organization. Therefore, you should be continually capturing data and information on the grant award as part of the organization’s focus on maintaining high quality programs, irrespective of the award.
  • Bad Reporting = Less Chance of Renewal: The more robust and detailed your reports, the more the funders will feel that they are getting a return on their investment.

Remember that you want to be a good steward of grant funding, and reporting is the story that you share with the funder to showcase that they made a good investment by supporting your program, project, or organization.