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Six Steps to Successful Grant Implementation

You have been awarded the grant you worked so hard for! Now, what are the steps to take to ensure successful stewardship of your award? In this second installment of a three-part grant management best practices series, we help you prepare for grant implementation.

These best practices are provided by Natalie Harlan and Winnie Ennenga, our grants team at the Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation.


  • Execute the agreement.


If a written agreement is included with the award letter, it must be accepted in order for you to receive the money. Make sure you know who has the authority to sign and accept the award on behalf of the organization. If the agreement contains terms and conditions (T&Cs), it is likely to require review by legal counsel before it can be signed.

With many large awards (i.e., government), terms and conditions may be identified in the application. This is another great time to request a review by your legal resource.

Now is the time to set expectations with the funder if the scope of the project will change. If the awarded amount doesn’t match your request, you must request approval for a new budget and revised scope of work. Make sure you’ve obtained review from all offices to ensure that the T&Cs and budget are such that you can meet the revised scope of work. Finally, be sure to keep a copy of your communications in case they are needed for future audits.


  • Show your gratitude.


Funders often feel a connection to the people you serve, and they like to be thanked for helping them. Encourage the program manager to send a personal note to the funder. A handwritten message is best in the case of foundation grants, but not so common with large government grants unless you have a strong relationship with the program officer. The smaller the grantor organizations, the more important to make your appreciation personal. A thank you letter confirming the amount you received will be useful to granting organizations for their tax records.


  • Announce the award.


Share the good news first with your supervisor, staff and board of directors. They are your extended communications team! Notify the department that received the grant – specifically the grant manager and that person’s supervisor. Posting the news on your website and social media sites and sending a press release to your local media outlets will build awareness and perception of your organization. Don’t forget to inform donors who might have an interest, because you may identify an opportunity to request matching funds for the project.


  • Prepare your tracking system.


You should have a system for tracking your activity relative to proposals in progress, those submitted, and those awarded, which may be as simple as a spreadsheet, an Access database or grants management software.


Be aware of the growth in your awards and when the right time will be to consider an investment in grant management software if you don’t already have it. You won’t want the scope of your projects to outgrow your system of spreadsheets and databases, putting yourself at risk of audit findings.


  • Work with your finance person.

Open lines of communication with your finance person will provide valuable insights into the logistics of implementing the award and managing the budget. You will learn how to make the expenditures for what is covered under the grant such as how to handle travel, accounting for time and effort and methods for reimbursement.


  • Prioritize implementation communications.

Make sure that more than one person is aware of the grant, that the project is being implemented and where the related documentation can be found. Note the reporting requirements and add this schedule to your calendar, ensuring it is accessible to everyone who needs it. If your grant supports research involving human subjects, contact the governing Institutional Review Board early to allow time to gain approvals.


All of these suggestions are important to ensure a prompt and seamless start to your project. We hope they will be useful to you! Demonstrating to the grantor that your project is off to a successful start will position you well to request continued funding in the future. FBN

By Sandra Kowalski

Sandra Kowalski is the community engagement specialist at Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation. For more information about NAHF, visit nahealth.com/foundation or call 928-213-6437.






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