Guidelines For Using Grant Money
Congratulations! You’ve become the official recipient of a grant! Now what?
Well, the first thing to do, once you’ve received the money either in the form of a check or sometimes as part of a contract, is to write back to the grant foundation and thank them. The grant foundation will appreciate it and your group will be more likely considered for future grants.
The next thing to do is study the grant foundations reporting requirements carefully. Do they require follow-up reports? How often? Do you need to give back an itemized expense account of how the money was spent, or just a general project report? Are there deadlines you need to be aware of for turning in those reports?
Make sure those deadlines are met – it’s a good idea to keep the people that give you money happy and well-informed. Even if the foundation doesn’t require any sort of project report at all, you should still send one. People like to know that their $20,000 was spent properly and in the way they intended.
What if my project didn’t receive full funding?
A more complicated situation arises when you receive part of the money you need for a particular project, but not the full amount you requested. In this case, you have three options:
- First, you can try another round of grant applications, and see if you receive the full amount of funding needed for the project. Since most grants have a timeline, however, this option is not always available.
- A second possibility is to try and complete the project on a lower budget. If you decide to go this route, you will need to contact the other foundations and explain that you will be attempting the project with a lower budget than initially anticipated, and why.
- The final, and least desirable option, is to conclude that you, in fact, cannot accomplish the stated goal with the amount of funding. Either write the grant foundation and ask if your grant can be transferred to another project (be sure to detail fully and explain why you think their money should go to this project instead) or return the money to the foundation.
What if we didn’t get the project completed as planned?
Another situation that can be difficult to foresee is what to do if you have spent all the grant money, but the project is not completed. Although this is unfortunate, it’s not impossible. You can write again to the foundations that funded you in the first place, and explain what has happened.
You kept good records, right? Be sure to explain where every penny went in this case, and why you weren’t able to accomplish the initial goals with the amount of money given. Or you can try for a second round of funding by applying anew to grant foundation (after reporting to the first foundations, of course), and posing this as a new project altogether.
No matter what you do, there is one cardinal rule: Keep records of everything, especially receipts. By doing so you will present yourself as careful and responsible, even if you end up having to go back and ask for more money again.
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