Last week, I shared some tips I’ve picked up from successful grant partners who are excelling at grant reporting. This week, I want to share the most important advice I got from a partner, as well as some insider baseball on how funding partners are using the data you report.
Grant management requirements can be overwhelming, but you can make it work for your organization by re-thinking it as as tool vs. a burden. One grantee partner shared that they view reporting as a chance for the funder to get to know and understand their successes and challenges. Check-ins are also a great time to communicate open and honestly with funders so they can learn what works and the lessons that come from things that do not. Both are equally important.
Some of our partners also build in key reporting deadlines into reflection opportunities (staff meetings, annual retreats, etc.).
The weeks leading up to a grant report can be a time for your team to reflect on progress, celebrate wins, and make adjustments to increase your impact. Grant partners and funders can shift mindsets around reporting to view it as an ongoing strategic opportunity to share impact, rather than as a transactional task. This collaboration can help bring the reporting process to life, extract it from its Word document to tell a story of impact.
Behind the Scenes
Why can’t funders just cut checks and call it a day? Why all of the reporting requirements? There are a few reasons.
At funding organizations, staff are held accountable for ensuring that funding choices align with the organization’s mission and vision. Our Foundation, for example, is audited each year to evaluate:
- Did we do our appropriate due diligence on each organization (hence all the document requirements)?
- How many of our grantees achieved or exceeded their goals?
- What impact have we achieved beyond the stated goals of our grantee partners?
We also answer to a Board of Directors that approves investment amounts based on past success.
But honestly, the most meaningful way we utilize our check-ins and reports is to help us promote our partners. We tell their stories try to and get others involved, replicate, or even fund our partners. (This has actually happened on a number of occasions.)
These past two pandemic years have taught us several flexible funding lessons. We made several changes resulting from partner feedback shared through the reporting process:
- Simplified disaster grant applications
- Goal adjustments
- Timeline extensions
- Capacity building supports such as Taproot, UpMetrics, and Virtual Learning Series to share best practices
But there is still so much more we can do to be better partners. As I write this, I am reflecting on how we can make our reporting process more purposeful and less time consuming so partners can maximize time spend doing the work vs. reporting on it. I’d love to hear from you all about what changes you would make to grant reporting requirements. Feel free to send any feedback. I promise we will share.
Thank you as always for the work you all do to make our state heathier and happier. Have a great week!
Initiatives Manager, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
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