In general, the life cycle of a grant has 3 main stages: the pre-award stage, the award stage, and the post-award stage. Both the grantor and the recipient have responsibilities to take care of during each stage in the cycle. Let’s break down each stage so we can better understand the life cycle of a grant.
The pre-award stage includes the announcement, the application submissions, and the review of all applications.
The grantor will make plans to develop a funding program based on its mission. They will then need to spread the word about the funding opportunity, so they will advertise it on all applicable platforms, including grants.gov. Applicants can spend anywhere from days to weeks completing the application, after which it will get screened by the grant-making agency. If approved, the grant will go to the appropriate agency for consideration.
The most exciting stage is in fact the shortest stage.
The selected applicant is sent a Notice of Award (NOA) and the grant becomes legally binding. But first, the agency and the recipient work together to go through the details and legalities of the agreement. Then the funds are dispersed to the recipient, who begins their project and is responsible for meeting the administrative and financial requirements of the reward.
Often the most overlooked stage of the cycle, the post-award stage is typically the longest.
A grants management officer from the funding agency oversees the reporting by the recipient after the grant has been awarded. Both programmatic and financial reports are submitted regularly to help the funding agency better understand the performance and status of the grant project.
The Post-Award Stage is the primary reason why we say that not all grant funds are great funds. The administrative burden of receiving and reporting can outweigh the financial boost provided by the grant. If the recipient does not meet the requirements outlined in the NOA, they will have difficulty being selected to receive grants in the future.
Grants & Your Business
Most businesses focus on the fun part of the grant lifecycle which is successfully receiving the funds. After all, these grants can be highly beneficial for a variety of reasons. Some, however, will experience issues during the post-award stage, leading to challenges when attempting to fulfill all of the terms, conditions, and requirements for determination of allowable costs when executing grant-funded activities. This could ultimately lead to the company being unable to secure future grants. Finishing strong is the key to success in maintaining and receiving additional funds, after all.
Before applying to receive a grant, do an assessment of the administrative bench strength of your business. Make a plan that puts a qualified person in charge of the organization and execution of the reports before the grant application is submitted. With this plan in place, you can avoid being blindsided and overwhelmed by the responsibilities attached to the acceptance and use of grant funds.