If your organization has sponsored research projects, you most likely face certain administrative challenges. To keep your management process running smoothly and efficiently, you should be able to organize and access essential information more easily for both day-to-day management and institution-wide reporting, as well as meeting federal funding agencies’ requirements.
Also – if you are looking to improve results from your grant-seeking efforts, it may surprise you that the answer is not always in finding more funders or filling out more applications. The answer may be to “sharpen your saw” and improve your research grant management process. Think of it this way – how much time could you and your organization spend on higher-return activities if you could eliminate time-consuming administrative tasks.
Below are some best practices that will help you improve your administration of research grants and give you the opportunity to focus your valuable time on more impactful activities:
Create a Grant Tracking List / Calendar
A grant calendar can help you and your organization stay on track. It should remind you of your funder’s proposal deadlines and help you submit your research grant reports on time.
There are many ways to track your grants. Your grant calendar may consist of a whiteboard or wall calendar, a shared Outlook or Google calendar, a task management system, spreadsheets, or ideally – a research grant management platform that ties all these pieces into one cohesive system. Whatever you use, you should strive to meet the following criteria:
- Everyone has visibility to upcoming deadlines.
- Task owners receive reminders when items are coming due.
- Everyone on the grant team can see their upcoming deadlines and easily access grant documents.
- You have a process to continually add new opportunities to your calendar.
- Recurring funding opportunities are always reflected in your future plan.
- The system seamlessly facilitates the communication of your grant plan, progress, and results.
At the start of your grant efforts, you may be just fine using a manual process and applications you already have on hand. But if you start receiving more grants, you may soon find that you are spending more time maintaining your solution and having less time available to focus on building relationships with funders and engaging in other fundraising activities. Be sure you reassess your research grant management needs and tools at regular intervals so they can grow with you.
Organize Your Funders and Grant History
Tracking key information about the funders you work with is a good practice. Often, this information resides at best in someone’s email folders or, at worst, in their head. This puts your organization’s fundraising capabilities at risk. It is vitally important that you document key contact information, past results, and funding priorities, and make it accessible to those who need the information.
Having quick access to details on your past, present, and future grant requests is a key part of research grant management. The ability to track and access dates related to funding requests can make the difference between having a sustainable grant practice and one in which you are constantly running behind, apologizing for missing dates, and losing out on funding opportunities.
Coordinate Your Grant Team Responsibilities while Staying on Schedule
Your research grant management solution can help you stay on track, highlight tasks that are falling behind schedule, and remind team members of upcoming items that are coming due. Being able to quickly see what is coming up in the next two weeks or quickly see a high-level view by month is critical to keeping the process running smoothly.
Research grant management platforms can be utilized to track important deadlines and can be a great time-saver for the person who is organizing all the elements of a grant proposal and is responsible for the final submission. Spending less time reminding people and more time on finding new funders, writing more powerful proposals, and nurturing relationships with funders is a good tradeoff. Spending time upfront to identify everything that is needed and who is responsible helps you weed out funders that you are not a great fit with – which saves you lots of time if you catch that early in your process.
Report on your progress
You should also be prepared to pull together summary reports that can effectively communicate to your organization and stakeholders the current status and progress of your efforts. Depending on the type of research grant management solution you use, this can take a few clicks—or potentially hours of time manipulating spreadsheets every time you need to report.
Once you start reporting on particular metrics, you can tune your research grant tracking process to be more timely and consistent in tracking the information needed to create those reports.
An effective research grant management process also helps show the results of your efforts and investments and supports your need to make data-driven decisions. If you want to get the best return on your grant-seeking efforts, you will want to use tools and processes that help save time and increase the amount of funding you receive.
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Create a custom application process to fit your and your recipients’ needs
Create a process that’s polished and painless for everyone involved. Collect submissions, supporting documents, and create forms to calculate budget needs to aid in disbursing the most helpful amount of funding for the research project.
Monitor your impact in real-time
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