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Software Implementation Team Roles and Responsibilities

Implementation TeamA software solution is only as effective as it is set up to be. A thoughtful implementation plan must be in place to position the organization to reap the technology’s full impact. 

This starts with assembling the right team. Below, we outline the implementation team’s roles and responsibilities.

Find Your Internal Champion

Every new solution needs an internal champion to rally support. Typically, the internal champion also facilitates the initial implementation process—including assembling a team. Strong internal champions possess leadership skills, are good communicators and are not adverse to change.

Assemble the Team

Implementation teams should include four key players: the internal champion, impacted employees, the software curator and the executive sponsor.

Impacted employees are those who will work most closely with the software. Pick a few key players to fill this role. They will mainly help ensure rollout, training and adoption goes smoothly.

The software curator’s main responsibility is to serve as the main point of contact between the organization and software vendor. The software curator is also responsible for keeping up-to-date with new product features and updates, and leading internal training, troubleshooting and process updates.

For this role, select a person to have final accountability for the data or documents that will be entered into the software system. Then, build the above-mentioned responsibilities into their job description to ensure accountability. It’s also beneficial if this person is tech-savvy, or willing to learn and ask questions.

The executive sponsor is a C-suite employee who helps rally internal support and aids the implementation team in overcoming internal roadblocks (e.g. inadequate resources, limited or slow-to-approve budgets, lack of management/key stakeholder buy-in, etc.).

When evaluating potential executive sponsors, seek out an individual who readily grasps software goals and benefits, is willing to advocate for the project internally, and has the authority to make budget, personnel and process decisions.

Often times, having a senior executive onboard and championing a project gives the initiative more weight and priority internally, which results in faster implementation.

The chart below shows the roles and responsibilities of each team member: 

Grant Management Software Implementation Roles

Peripheral Responsibilities

In addition to the above outlined responsibilities, participating employees must also:

Promote good communication. A communication plan should be created that outlines the five W’s—who, what, where, when and why—of software selection and rollout. Related: “How To Communicate a Technology Rollout Plan.”

Provide accurate implementation feedback, training and support so that users can be confident in the new system and so that sore spots can be proactively mitigated. This includes understanding, and teaching others, how to use the feedback tools built into the software (if available). Related: “Listen Up! Tips to Improve Board Feedback Collection.”

Be efficient. Involved employees should complete delegated tasks in a timely fashion. The sooner the software is implemented, the sooner the organization can reap its benefits.

For a successful transition, your organization must appropriately plan for the adoption, implementation and long-term perpetuation of the software—and have the right people in place to carry out the initiative.

For more in-depth insight on software rollout, download our free asset: Change Management: Adopt and Implement Grant Management Software.

     Implementation Guide

How do you promote successful software implementation? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Image Source: Scott Maxwell via Flickr

Highlights From the DATA Act Oversight Committee Early Implementation Hearing

open dataOn December 3, 2014, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing to discuss early DATA Act implementation phases. Here’s what was discussed and what you need to know.

1. There is Still a Lack of Transparency Between Federal Government Agencies

In addition to the push for open data for public consumption, the committee recognized the lack of, and need for, more transparency between federal government agencies.

To propel this agenda forward, standardized data collection processes must be in place. This will allow agencies to share quantitative data with each other rather than subjective opinions.

2. Federal Programs Need to be Defined

Senator Warner raised the issue that federal programs must be clearly defined. Currently, agencies lack coordination across the board as different definitions are given to programs with a similar focus.

The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) was the government’s first attempt to standardize federal program definitions. GPRA was enacted as law in 1993 and stood to improve government performance management.

This first attempt was unsuccessful, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report. In it, GAO found that agencies were allowed to select from one of several approaches when defining programs, which lead to inconsistent categorization.

The result was duplicative efforts and funding. A standardized approach to federal program definitions will be useful to policy makers, and support greater transparency into spending and program performance.

3. Agencies Must be Motivated to Comply With an Unfunded Mandate

New regulations and compliance measures are complicated and unprecedented. With already tight budgets, the committee realizes the implementation struggles that will occur on the agency level—particularly the restructuring of internal processes and systems to meet new data standards, translate grant and contract information into machine-readable data, and respond to requests for increased performance reporting.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost the government as a whole roughly $300 million to implement and sustain the DATA Act between 2014 and 2018.

4. Missing Deadlines is a Non-Option

Senator Portman states to the committee, “…If [the] deadline slips it’s a real problem because … other implementation deadlines will also slip.”

The committee discussed the need to take implementation steps slowly, so as not to rush a complicated process. However, it also recognizes the need to stay on track and diligent regarding deadlines. Below is an overview of key implementation deadlines:

  • May 2015: The Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish data standards.
  • May 2017: Agencies must integrate data standards into reporting, and the federal pilot program will be completed.
  • May 2018: All spending data will be published on USASpending.org.

So far, the Treasury and OMB are on pace to meet the first deadline, releasing 58 data elements for DATA Act implementation deliberation. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was also selected to lead the DATA Act federal pilot program.

5. The Recovery Board’s Knowledge Will Be Leveraged

In his testimony, David Lebryk, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s financial assistant secretary, discussed how the Treasury is taking cues from the Recovery Board’s success. To integrate the Board’s vast knowledge, the Treasury has designated two Recovery Board staff to work on the DATA Act effort.

Furthermore, the same technology that was used for the Recovery Board to oversee federal funding is being reused to implement the DATA Act. As part of the 2012 Grants Reporting Information Pilot (GRIP), the Recovery Board was able to create a centralized grant reporting system that could collect recipient data via multiple reporting mechanisms, including web forms, XML single submissions and XML bulk submissions.

Our grant management solution, AmpliFund, was used in the pilot, and is well-positioned to support grant recipient reporting. AmpliFund allows recipients to submit files in machine-readable data directly from the software. As such, it can help agencies track spending and performance, and stay compliant with transparency legislation.

What Agencies Need To Know

The DATA Act isn’t going anywhere.

While the committee continues to sort through best practices and implementation processes, agencies must seek to understand new requirements.

With the right processes and technologies in place, standardized machine-readable data can simplify agency compliance. Then, agencies can refocus time, energy and resources toward programmatic success and objective goals. 

Watch the full testimony on the committee’s website.

For background information on the DATA Act and its impact on grant managers, download The Changing Landscape of Grant Reporting.

 Grant Reporting Whitepaper

What are your thoughts on the planned implementation processes for the DATA Act? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: Opensource.com via Flickr

How to Select the Best Vendor for Your Board Portal Needs

boardroomDoes your organization know what it needs from a board management solution? Many nonprofits have identified the need for a board portal but lack the guidance to purchase the right solution.

As with any software purchase, you need to pursue the right partnership for the best chances at implementation success.

Purchasing a technology solution shouldn’t be a guessing game. Below, we’ve outlined the core criteria to consider when evaluating board portal vendors.

1. Usability and Features

Arguably, one of the most important criteria for choosing one solution over another is based on its real life application to your board’s needs. 

Once you understand the problems you want the software to fix, you’ll be better suited to narrow down options based on features.

To do this, map out your current board processes and structure. Process mapping involves listing all board activities, and pairing each with associated documents, responsible parties and communication methods.

It should look something like this:

process mappingFor an interactive guide on how to process map, download our Board Portal Purchasing Guide.

Pro tip: Prioritize board portal solutions that offer native capabilities rather than ad hoc customization.

2. Reliability and Security

Next, evaluate each vendor’s infrastructure to gain a better understanding of potential security or reliability flaws. Questions to ask vendors include:

  • How and where are backups stored?
  • How often are backups captured?
  • How easy is it to restore a backup?
  • Does the vendor or a third party host data?
  • How often does the vendor conduct vulnerability testing?
  • Has the product ever been inaccessible for a period of time due to technical difficulties?

3. Customer Support

While best board portals have an intuitive user interface, organizations should be assured that if a problem arises, help is not far away.

Rank each vendor based on the quality of its phone or live-chat support system. Furthermore, ask vendors what other customer-focused features they offer to assist troubleshooting. Is there an accessible FAQ page or video series before they need to reach out for assistance?

4. Training and Start-up Assistance

Going back to our earlier point, you need a vendor who will act as an implementation partner. The best way to assess this ability is by taking a look at the vendor’s training and start-up program. Does the vendor offer:

  • Administrative and board member training?
  • Onsite or web based guidance?
  • Unlimited training as needed?
  • Guided videos or other online resources?

Board members must understand how to operate the software to its optimal usage to achieve the full benefits of implementation.

These are just four of the criteria of which to evaluate board portal vendors. How else do you assess when making a purchasing decision? Share your thoughts below.

Simplify the software purchasing decision with our free resource: The Board Portal Purchasing Guide.

Board Portal Purchase Evaluation Guide

Image Source: Chris via Flickr

How OMB Uniform Grant Guidance is Changing Public Sector and Nonprofit Partnerships Forever

UGGAn important section of OMB’s Uniform Grant Guidance dives into establishing better performance and accountability for federal awards—specifically as it relates to how indirect and direct costs are tracked and reimbursed. 

This will change the relationship between public sector funders and nonprofit grantees by altering compliance and funding affairs, as well as increasing the urgency for organizations to adopt workflows to conform to new regulations and standards.

The New Rules for Tracking Indirect and Direct Costs

A few problems currently exist with the way indirect and direct costs are treated and reported. First, naming conventions are inconsistent across the board. What one organization considers to be an indirect cost is billed as a direct cost by another. This creates great difficulty when aggregating programmatic expense data.

To make reporting more transparent and consistent, OMB’s Uniform Grant Guidance requires standardized processes for all stakeholders involved in a grant’s program execution. In a nutshell: 

  • Funds must be administered according to program agreements and award terms, and proper documentation must be kept of costs expensed.
  • Organizations can choose the organization and management techniques that work best for their staff. The key is that whatever processes are created, recipients need to put them in writing in their polices or procedures (or establish the process as a policy or procedure), so that they are followed consistently and used to manage sub-recipients.
  • You cannot force one process on anther organization. The prime recipient is responsible for managing sub-recipients. To do this, they must have policies and procedures in place for oversight.
  • Non-federal entities cannot mix and match how they treat costs, but must treat them consistently once they are designated as direct or indirect. As stated in the Guidance, “A cost cannot be assigned as direct, if any other cost incurred for the same purpose, in like circumstances, has been allocated as an indirect cost to the federal award.”
  • Costs that would have historically been deemed indirect might be able to be tracked as direct if they can be tied to a specific award (i.e. if the services are integral to the project, have been included in the approved budget and are not tracked elsewhere as indirect costs.)

How This Impacts Nonprofits

Currently, nonprofits contracted by government agencies are rarely compensated for indirect costs—such as overhead and utilities—associated with fulfilling programmatic responsibilities. The Uniform Grant Guidance obliges government agencies using federal funds to recognize grantees’ and contractors’ indirect costs as legitimate expenses.

When a grantee or sub-recipient has a federally recognized negotiated indirect cost rate, it must be accepted by the federal awarding agency or prime recipient (if the prime does not want to negotiate a rate). Or, in lieu of a negotiated indirect cost rate, grantees can use the “de minimis” rate of 10%.

New regulations take the burden off nonprofits who otherwise would have to scramble to subsidize indirect costs elsewhere. However, these new rules are not guaranteed, as each program and grant is different. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, nonprofits can do the following to better secure newly provided benefits:

  • Develop skills to negotiate higher government reimbursement rates and fairer contract terms.
  • Become more skilled at advocacy on appropriation and tax matters.
  • Have the ability to accurately identify and track overhead costs. Note: Proper cost tracking is the only concrete way to ensure correct compensation, without having to rely on external parties to act in your favor.

Regarding the National Council of Nonprofits final point, grant management software can make identifying and tracking overhead costs a tangible reality. Nonprofits who utilize such technology solutions also put themselves ahead of the game for other OMB Uniform Grant Guidance standards and regulations.

How will OMB Uniform Grant Guidance impact your organization’s processes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: 401(k) 2012 via Flickr

The Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative: What it Means for Grantees

budget managementIn November 2009, President Obama initiated an Executive Order to reduce improper payments and eliminate waste across federal programs. The Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative is one effort to help the federal government achieve these objectives.

Here’s how the Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative affects your organization’s award activities.

How the Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative Works 

Government agencies use the Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative to determine grantee eligibility prior to releasing federal funds. This ensures that the federal government is only paying out on grants in which recipients are compliant with award requirements. It also allows the federal government to hit a stop button on payments if ineligible. 

To evaluate eligibility, agencies can search, match and analyze data sets within an online portal—known as the Do Not Pay Business Center. Currently available data sets include:

  • Death Master File (DMF)
  • Treasury Offset Program (TOP) Debt Check
  • List of Excluded Individuals/Entities (LEIE)
  • Credit history, social identity matching, and others from Dun and Bradstreet
  • Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
  • System for Award Management / Excluded Party List System (SAM/EPLS)
  • SAM Central Contractor Registration (CCR)

Additional data sets are pending.

Agencies can search available data sets by entering a social security number (SSN), employee identification number (EIN), taxpayer identification number (TIN), first and last name, business name or DUN. From there, they can see a history of compliance, identify parties that are excluded from doing business with the government, learn of past performance metrics and more. In essence, Do Not Pay Business Center’s data allows agencies to prevent improper payments by verifying entity eligibility information. 

Note: Not all government agencies currently implement “Do Not Pay” as it is not legally required.

The Effect on Federal Fund Recipients

Thus far, the Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative has only affected recipients of large sums of federal dollars—i.e. states and counties. While no nonprofit or educational system has had “Do Not Pay” issued against them yet, smaller organizations may become a target down the road as data becomes more readily available via open data initiatives.

The main risk to nonprofits is projection of cash flow. As traditional drawdown cash flow timelines become more mitigated based on programmatic performance and organizational compliance, drawdowns and paybacks will become less concrete. This forces questions like: How do I manage my expenses? How do I know how much cash flow is at risk, even if it’s drawn down? How much might I have to pay back?

To safeguard your organization from stifled cash flow and lost funds, it is wise to put the proper systems in place to maintain compliance. Implement a technology solution to:

  • Record and consolidate grant-related documents.
  • Make data machine-readable.
  • Track programmatic progress, and create performance reports.
  • Assist in meeting deadlines.

The ability to drawdown the full amount of federal dollars awarded will be contingent upon performance and compliance, and your ability to measure both. The Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative is one more stepping stone in the government’s quest for greater spending transparency and accountability.

How does the Treasury “Do Not Pay” Initiative fit into the greater discussion on open data and government transparency? Download our free ebook, The Path to Open Data, to learn more. 

The Path to Open Data

Image Source: OTA Photos via Flickr

An Overview of States' Open Data Policies and Initiatives

Open DataOpen data is taking the United States by full force, and it’s not just happening at the federal level. Many states are embracing the movement with open arms. As of writing this post, 38 states have launched open data websites and policies. That’s more than three-quarters of the country.

Leading the Pack

While all 38 are trailblazers in the quest for open data, an August 2014 report by the Center for Data Innovation places Maryland, New York, Illinois, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Utah as the six top-scoring states for open data policy and portal accessibility.

All of these states have open data policies that mandate portals disseminate basic government data (including expenditures) in machine-readable format via intuitive user interfaces. Data can also be downloaded or used by third-party developers through APIs.

Below we feature a few of these programs to help guide future state initiatives. 

Maryland

Maryland’s open data policies were established in 2012 via executive order and amended in 2014 via legislation. The policy applies broadly to all government data (not just financial information), requires machine-readability and is enacted statewide.

The policy also established a Council on Open Data to decide what state information would be made public, and what would remain private. The Council is “in charge with moving the state toward more proactively open data,” according to Senator Bill Fergusan.

Maryland’s open data portal—data.maryland.gov—is Socrata-based. Like other Socrata sites, the portal provides searchable open datasets and views with the goal of empowering constituents to be more involved in civic decision-making.

New York

New York formed its open data policy exclusively via executive order. The open data bill came in 2013, seven months after Governor Cuomo issued the order to establish an open data policy.

The state’s open data policies aren’t about simply making datasets open; they are designed to make the information usable and actionable. According to the Center for Data Innovation report, “New York City is one of the most active cities in terms of beneficial use of open data.”

New York’s open data site brings local, state and federal data together into one, consolidated space. It is accompanied by 16 satellite sites that cover specific areas of transparency—i.e. parks and recreation, public transportation and the New York Lottery.

Site visitors can search data sets and view information in multiple formats (e.g. charts, maps, calendars, documents, forms and APIs), then choose to export to a variety of standard formats (XML, JSON, CSV, etc.) or even share on Facebook and Twitter.

Illinois 

Like Maryland, Illinois established its open data policy first through executive order in 2012, and then amended the policy via legislation. The subsequent legislation made clear Illinois’ intentions by specifying that it superseded all contradictory or inconsistent executive orders made prior to its passing.

Illinois' central open data site hosts searchable datasets and views. It also connects five microsites: Health Data, Rockford, Champaign, Belleville and SSMMA, which provide deep-dive information on city- and agency-specific data.

Andrew Ross, chief operating officer of Illinois, speaks to the future of open data: “The open data initiative in Illinois is part of a purposeful and deliberate project-driven approach focused on creating new opportunities for non-government actors who can apply their creativity and critical thinking to transform Illinois’s public data into innovative new services.”

These three states are among those that have gone the extra mile to ensure open data is meeting its true potential. See the full report here for a more in-depth analysis and full data.

How does your state’s open data policies match up to Maryland, New York and Illinois? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

For a deeper dive into how local governments are using open data, download our free ebook: The Path to Open Data: Why Cities and Counties Are Sharing More Resources and Information Than Ever Before.

The Path to Open Data

Image Source: Open Knowledge via Flickr

Uniform Grant Guidance: Preparing Your Organization for Compliance [Free Webinar]

federalThe Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG) presents new financial management and federal award requirements that impact both federal agencies and recipients of federal dollars.

Proper preparation and a thorough understanding of what changes UGG will bring is important to overall organizational success.

However, it can be difficult to navigate the intricate changes and requirements by yourself. That’s why we’ve partnered with Sandy Swab to bring you a free webinar on what your organization needs to know to prepare.

About the Webinar

Sandy Swab—formerly senior policy analyst for the OMB—is an independent public sector consultant. Her extensive experience in the federal space, specifically as it pertains to open data, government transparency and compliance, validates her advice and guidance on UGG requirements.

This one-hour webinar is jam-packed with information organizations need to know, including:

  • What changes were made to the UGG, and why.
  • Who will be affected.
  • When changes will go into effect.
  • How public sector award recipients can positions themselves for compliance.

Watch the webinar on-demand.

Register for Webinar

Additional UGG Resources

You can also read up on the UGG and OMB’s goals: 

Image Source: Frankieleon via Flickr

How to Fight Board Member Absenteeism

empty roomA nonprofit board should be the guiding light for the organization. However, this can be difficult to accomplish when members aren’t physically or mentally present at meetings.  

Below, we outline four common causes of board member absenteeism and steps your nonprofit can take to overcome them.

1. Expectations Are Not Clearly Defined 

Boards run into trouble when members’ initial expectations don’t align with expected responsibilities and requirements. Make sure the opportunity is a good fit for both the potential member and the board: 

  • Be upfront about time commitments, roles and responsibilities—including the number, duration and meeting times of board and committee meetings.
  • Document expectations in a centralized place for easy reference.
  • Keep track of attendance, and set a precedent of enforced expectations.
  • Establish processes that encourage ongoing feedback.

For additional pointers and details, read our blog post, How to Properly Set Board Member Expectations.

2. Board Members’ Talents Are Underutilized

Board member absenteeism often starts to materialize once members realize that their skills and talents are not valued or utilized.

Each board member has something unique to bring to the table. These talents should be unearthed during the nomination processes via a skill assessment, so that skills and specialties can be put to use at the onset of the relationship. Conduct one-on-one meetings, small group discussions or administered self-assessments to gain an  understanding of educational backgrounds, areas of interest and specific talents..

With this knowledge on hand, you can better assign board members to specific projects and board meeting roles. You’ll also know who to look to for advice and guidance when meeting discussions arise in specific topic areas.

See here for more information on reversing the effects of unplugged talent.

3. Board Meetings Lack Focus and Meaning

Never meet just to meet. A board meeting without a clear and focused agenda can be viewed as a waste of time by members, and may discourage them from keeping perfect attendance. Avoid this by:

  • Having an agenda that is shared with members prior to meeting.
  • Keeping meetings balanced with a healthy mix of presentations and group discussions.
  • Asking smart questions geared toward metrics.
  • Staying diligent with meeting start and end times.
  • Practicing transparency by sharing meeting minutes.

Read our recent blog post, 5 Tips to Make Board Meetings Meaningful, for a more thorough explanation of how to execute the above suggestions.

4. Board Members Forget to Attend

It may sound silly, but part of the reason board members may not show up to meetings is simply because they forget the day and time. Make it a habit to remind members of each meeting. Consider sending two emails—one a week before the meeting and one the day before.

Another option is to leverage board management technology, which allows you to automate board member meeting and project reminders.

How does your board’s practices compare to others? Learn more about the current state of board management: Download the 2014 Board Engagement Report.

   2014 Board Report

Image Source: KT King via Flickr

Share Your Best Board Management Tips and Tricks

feedback

Editor's note: The survey is now closed. To receive a copy of the report when it is available in Q2 2015, submit a request here.

Boards are vital to the long-term sustainability of NPOs, yet managing them can be plain old hard work.

Between finding the right talent mix, defining roles and delegating responsibilities, and simply keeping everyone informed, board management challenges are widespread.

So, where should one turn when the hurdles are mounting, the best course of action is unclear, or improvements have plateaued? We’d recommend your peers—those individuals and organizations who have “been there, done that.”

And we’re here to help facilitate the discussion.

Submit Your Board Management Best Practices

We’ve all picked up a trick or two along the way—whether it’s an out-of-the box idea to keep members engaged or a simple, yet often overlooked process tweak to improve efficiency. We’ve also all learned hard lessons that, if shared, could save others headaches.

Our team is looking to uncover these board management nuggets of wisdom. To do this, we’re collecting feedback from boards across the country on how to:

  • Improve board member engagement.
  • Recruit and retain members.
  • Simplify board communications and management.
  • Adopt a board portal.  

Join the conversation, and submit your tips here. In return, we'll send you a compilation of the best board management advice we receive to help guide your organization’s governance strategies and processes. We'll also enter you for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

   Share Your Board Tips

Image Source: Alan Levin

Creative Funding: How to Stretch Federal Grant Dollars

stretch grant dollarsIn today’s competitive grant economy, it is important for nonprofits to be frugal with funding dollars. Every dollar wasted or not fully drawn down can negatively contribute to overall program performance and hinder your organization from winning future awards.

Sometimes, to utilize every dollar of your federal grant, you need to get a little creative. Here are four ways to stretch federal grant dollars.

1. Be Diligent About Deadlines

One deadline slip can not only push your goals back, but also cause the organization to miss out on the full amount of federal dollars pledged. Agree upon realistic and attainable deadlines with the grant funder—then, put processes in place to ensure you meet them. A few steps to help you meet deadlines:

  • Care about the deadlines. Realize the importance of meeting the deadline and what implication it has on your organization’s funding relations.
  • Be organized. Deadlines can easily fall through the cracks or sneak up on your office. Create a list or calendar to mark when each task must be completed to stay on track.
  • Over communicate. Communicate with all parties involved each step of the way as you work to complete tasks on time. Update personnel on deadline statuses, roles and responsibilities to make meeting deadlines a team effort.

One foolproof way to achieve the above is by implementing a technology solution such as grant management software. With it, you can track deadlines, automate reminders and maintain communication with your team, all through one consolidated portal.  

2. Maintain Compliance

Staying compliant increases your ability to draw down award dollars, reduce costs associated with bad audits, and set your organization up to win future awards.

With the DATA Act and other government transparency legislation, compliance will become more important and slightly more complicated. But it doesn’t have to be.

Become acquainted with new legislation and individual funder requirements. Some important points include:

  • Grantees will soon be required to submit reports to a single portal in a machine-readable format.
  • In addition to grant performance, award recipients will need to demonstrate that they have a performance management system in place.
  • Grantees will now go through a risk evolution prior to being granted funds to prove past audit issues have been resolved. 
  • Award recipients must uphold consistency in how cost information is managed.

Once you have an understanding of new requirements, put processes in place to ensure continued compliance.  We recommend integrating technology to simplify internal management and reporting.

Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Transparency Coalition, explains, “Any grantee or contractor that invests in systems to connect financial reporting to grant or contract reporting will see that investment repaid once DATA Act standards are in place.” In other words, there’s an early mover advantage to putting the right technology in place to stay compliant—helping stretch grant money further in the future.

3. Cut Back on Administrate Waste

Often times, award funds end up going toward grant management and administrative expenses. In fact, federally funded organizations report spending on average 40% of their time on administrative tasks. That's time that could be going toward program execution and money being expensed as an indirect cost.

Improvements can easily be made to time management, data organization and operational efficiency—and doing so will pay off in a big way. A few examples include:

  • Prepare for yearly audits year-round. Don’t wait until it is down to the wire. By realizing how day-to-day tasks feed into the organization’s yearly audit, you can efficiently gather required documents organically. This way, no additional preparation is needed once auditing season arrives.
  • Automate grant reporting and compliance. By automating certain grant management tasks, personnel can cut administrative time and reallocate it toward revenue-generating and program-execution activities.
  • Streamline processes. Use a technology solution to simplify daily tasks such as communication efforts, deadline reminders and relationship maintenance.

For more specifics, read our blog post, “Three Steps to Reduce Grant Administration Time.”

4. Collaborate with Like-Minded Organizations

Another great way to creatively stretch grant funding is by collaborating with other nonprofit and government organizations that have similar missions. Doing so can result in greater efficiencies and propel program performance, as your organization won’t have to shoulder the brunt of the weight in execution, reporting or compliance.

To start collaborating, look into shared service programs. A shared service program is when two or more nonprofits share office space, equipment, staff and/or programmatic resources. This reduces duplicative efforts, thus making better use of federal funds.

How does your organization stay frugal with federal grant dollars? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: Tax Credits via Flickr

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