Grants Health Check

Take the Grants Health Check

Be guided through the nine-stage self-assessment
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Grants healthcheck3

Our Grants Health Check guides you through a nine-stage process that should take you around 10 minutes. We assure you that it will be time well spent.

The review is based on the SmartyGrants Grantmaking Toolkit’s nine stages of grantmaking. We’ll take you through a quick self-assessment of these elements of your program:

  • Goals, governance, guidelines and record-keeping systems, including program design and eligibility criteria
  • Identification of your “outcomes agents” – the people, groups and processes you’ll work with to achieve your program’s aims, including application processes, form design and promotions
  • Record keeping, including tracking of applicants from your first contact
  • Grants assessment and decision-making
  • Notifications to grant winners and unsuccessful applicants
  • Agreements and payments – negotiating contracts and making payments
  • Monitoring and variations, including progress reporting, managing performance issues and varying agreements
  • Closing the grant – final reports and acquittals, and reviewing funded projects
  • Evaluation and dissemination – assessing your program and sharing the lessons learnt.

Based on your responses we’ll assign you some homework that will help you push towards grantmaking perfection. (If you don't get any homework from us, you’re clearly doing something right, so please alert us so we can share some of your secrets.)

Grantmaking Lifecycle

Plan and Design

Goals, governance and program features *

Have you clearly articulated the outcome goals for your program, and do these inform your policy and operational frameworks? Is the overall program approach fully and clearly documented?

Have you identified all stakeholders and target groups, and defined an end-to-end grants management structure that will take you from application to final report/acquittal? Are diagrams and flow charts included where appropriate?

Outcomes-oriented program design *

Are your outcome goals clearly articulated (e.g. through an outcomes framework) and can you draw a clear line from those goals to and through all other aspects of your program: stakeholder management, management structures, selection criteria, assessment methodology and evaluation and reporting processes?

Eligibility criteria *

Are you clear about the criteria you will use to decide who is eligible to apply for a grant, and how you will decide who gets a grant? And are these criteria clearly related to the outcome goals and objectives of your program? Are there clear justifications for your criteria? Are your criteria clearly expressed so they can be accurately interpreted by program staff and applicants?

Record-keeping

Setting up grants management and record-keeping systems *

Do your grants management and record-keeping structures, systems and processes enable grants managers to track applicants and grantees from the first point of contact until the last? Are your record-keeping systems modern, secure and easy to use? Are records easy to obtain and suitable for both customer service and audit purposes? Are grant managers clear about their responsibilities in understanding and maintaining the systems you have put in place? Are the appropriate permissions in place?

Identify Outcomes Agents

Application Form and Process *

Have you identified who are the best individuals or groups to help you achieve your program’s outcome goals (your “outcomes agents”)? With their requirements, capabilities and capacities in mind, is the application process (including forms, timeframes, documentation and help mechanisms) appropriate to the size, complexity and level of risk of the grants?

Promoting the opportunity *

Do you have a program promotion strategy? Can you be confident that news about your program will reach your intended “outcomes agents” – the individuals and organisations who can use the funding you provide to help you deliver your program goals? Is program information provided in the formats and language and mediums appropriate to your potential grantees, while also meeting the requirements of all key stakeholders, and promoting the grant owners? Do people know where they can go for more information?

Assess and Decide

Assessment process and recommendations *

Is it clear to internal and external stakeholders how and when and by whom applications will be assessed? Are these processes clearly mapped to the eligibility requirements and outcomes-informed criteria you laid down earlier?

Are responsibilities clearly and appropriately allocated?

Is the scale of your assessment process proportionate to the size and risk profile of your grants program?

Will the application assessment process meet stakeholders’ expectations for objectivity, transparency and accountability?

Deciding *

Is it clear who makes the decision about who will receive the grants and when and by what method those decisions will be made?

Notify

Notifying successful applicants *

Is there a formal process in place for advising and announcing successful applicants? Does the process take into account the needs and sensitivities of all stakeholders, and (if relevant) does it provide opportunities for program promotion?

Notifying unsuccessful applicants *

Is there a formal process in place for advising unsuccessful applicants of the outcome of their application? Does the process provide opportunities for capacity building and relationship building with unsuccessful applicants? Does the process operate fairly, respectfully and transparently?

Agreements

Defining terms *

Are the language, style, length and complexity of the contract, agreement or memorandum of understanding proportionate to the size and risk level of the grant, as well as the capacities and capabilities of the grantees?

Is its content consistent with all other aspects of the grants management system and documentation?

Are standard and non-variable requirements clear, and is it obvious why each of these clauses has been included?

Is it clear who has authority to negotiate terms and sign the document?

Making payments *

Is it clear when and how payments will be made, including amounts, frequency, milestones and incentive arrangements?

Monitor

Monitoring grantee outcomes *

Are your grant monitoring and reporting processes: • understood by, and fair to, the grant recipient? • proportionate to the level of funds, and the capability and the assessed level of risk of grant recipients? • practical, in that they can realistically be implemented, and any findings can be acted upon? • effective in checking that the program and projects are on track and progressing towards outcomes? • biased in favour of learning rather than enforcing or punishing?

Managing performance and varying grants

Do you have a policy in place that articulates your overall approach to performance management? Does your organisation use risk analysis to anticipate potential issues and possible early intervention (mitigation) strategies? Is there a clear process in place to handle variations to the contract, agreement or memorandum of understanding where these are required or requested? Is it clear how and to what extent the terms of contracts, agreements and letters of understanding may be varied? Is it clear what are the triggers for a variation? Is it clear who would be responsible for approving such variations?

Close the Grant

Reviewing financial acquittals and closing grants *

Is there a clear process in place for acquittal of funds? Does your acquittal policy support the overall purpose of the grants program, including its objectives in relation to capacity-building, fraud management, and value for money? Does it consider grantees’ individual risks and capabilities in determining the frequency and requirements of financial and outcomes reporting?

Reviewing funded projects *

Is there a process in place for reviewing individual projects funded through your grants program, as measured against the previously agreed outcome goals and any associated key performance indicators, including outputs and outcome indicators? Is it clear who will be responsible for carrying out the reviews, whether the grantmaker or the grant recipient? Are monitoring and evaluation activities considered in your budgeting and grantmaking?

Evaluate and Share

Evaluating the program *

Is it clear how the efficiency and effectiveness of your program as a whole will be evaluated? Have you allocated a budget for evaluation and assigned responsibility for this task to a suitably qualified practitioner? Do you use lessons from past rounds to inform future rounds?

Sharing the lessons learnt *

Do you look for opportunities to disseminate the lessons derived from your grants program so everyone can learn from your achievements and missteps, and those of your grantees? Is it clear to grantees from the outset what is planned regarding dissemination (including publication) of program evaluations or other lessons learnt? Have all relevant stakeholders been included and informed, where required or desirable?

Below you'll find some feedback on your grants program given the answers you provided to our questions.

Plan and design

Goals, governance and program features

Your answer: Yes

Congratulations! Looks like you’ve nailed this stage of the grantmaking process, which will put you on a solid path to grantmaking success.

Your answer: Partly

You’re on your way, but you probably could use some more help getting your foundations in place. It’s really important that you take the time to get this right – your program’s success depends on it. Go back to basics and make sure you can answer these key questions:

  • What's the program's purpose? What is the gap it has been created to fill?
  • What risks are involved in delivering the program? What controls will you need to put in place to mitigate these risks?
  • What are the specific outcomes you're trying to achieve through your grants? How will you know if you are making progress? What would success look like?
  • Who are your stakeholders? Which individuals or groups are best placed to help you achieve your goals, and who will be affected by the work they do?
  • What requirements do potential grantees need to fulfil to qualify to receive a grant?

If you need more help, our Grantmaking Services can assist in putting you on the right track, or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

You need to do some more work to properly define the very reason for your program's existence – everything flows from this question so it's really important that you spend some time on it.

Perhaps the thread has been lost over time, or perhaps the program was developed quickly without proper consideration of its purpose. Either way, it's important to go back to basics to think through and clearly articulate:

  • What's the program's purpose? What is the gap it has been created to fill?
  • What risks are involved in delivering the program? What controls will you need to put in place to mitigate these risks?
  • What are the specific outcomes you're trying to achieve through your grants? How will you know if you are making progress? What would success look like?
  • Who are your stakeholders? Which individuals or groups are best placed to help you achieve your goals, and who will be affected by the work they do?
  • What requirements do potential grantees need to fulfil to qualify to receive a grant?

If you need more help, our Grantmaking Services can assist in putting you on the right track, or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Outcomes-oriented program design

Your answer: Yes

Congratulations! While we’re never really finished when it comes to articulating and refining our outcomes, it looks like you’re well on the right path. You may be a good candidate for using the SmartyGrants Outcomes Engine to track and report on progress towards your goals. Email the SmartyGrants team to find out more.

Your answer: Partly

It can feel like a big step to change a program mindset from “money out the door” to “money for outcomes” but it’s really important to make this transition now – it’s the key to achieving value for money for your stakeholders. Once your outcome goals are clearly articulated you can use them to write clear guidelines, design clear and effective forms, and inform your assessment decision-making and reporting processes. This in turn will inform your decisions on who to fund, and how to administer that funding.

SmartyGrants can give you some simple first steps to follow to get you on the right path to defining your outcomes. Contact the SmartyGrants team to find out more, or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there. But if your program has been set up to fulfil a particular purpose (and pretty much every program has a purpose) then you need to be clear about that purpose and the outcome goals that your purpose informs, and you need to use those outcome goals to guide the more detailed policy and operational decisions that will follow.

It’s a very bad idea to skip this step. It can feel like a big step to change a program mindset from “money out the door” to “money for outcomes” but it’s really important to make this transition now – it’s the key to achieving value for money for your stakeholders. Once your outcome goals are clearly articulated you can use them to write clear guidelines, design clear and effective forms, and inform your assessment decision-making and reporting processes. This in turn will inform your decisions on who to fund, and how to administer that funding.

SmartyGrants can give you some simple first steps to follow to get you on the right path to defining your outcomes. Contact our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Eligibility criteria

Your answer: Yes

Congratulations! Having clearly articulated criteria will help you find the right “outcomes agents” – the people and groups who will help you meet your goals. It will save you time in assessing poorly matched applications, and will save potential applicants time too. Gold star!

Your answer: Partly

It’s definitely worth investing some time to get this right. Having poorly thought through or unclear eligibility criteria will waste your time, and the time of your grant applicants. On the other hand, having clear assessment criteria that are linked to outcome gaols of your program will help you find the right “outcomes agents” – the people and groups who will help you meet your goals.

Don't automatically include or exclude applicants just because that's what's always been done, or because that's what other funders do. Your eligibility criteria should be unique to your organisation, and should flow from your own goals and approach.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – SmartyGrants is here to help. Contact the SmartyGrants team to find out more, or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

It’s definitely worth investing some time to get this right. Having poorly thought through or unclear eligibility criteria will waste your time, and the time of your grant applicants. On the other hand, having clear assessment criteria that are linked to outcome gaols of your program will help you find the right “outcomes agents” – the people and groups who will help you meet your goals.

Don't automatically include or exclude applicants just because that's what's always been done, or because that's what other funders do. Your eligibility criteria should be unique to your organisation, and should flow from your own goals and approach.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – SmartyGrants is here to help. Contact the SmartyGrants team to find out more, or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Record-keeping

Setting up grants management and record-keeping systems

Your answer: Yes

Great! Having good record-keeping systems will ensure you can maintain clear, consistent communications with stakeholders, you can report on key data as required, and you are ready for the auditors when they come calling.

Your answer: Partly

It’s worth investing some time in getting your record-keeping systems in order. A bit of work done now will ensure you can maintain clear, consistent communications with stakeholders, you can report on key data as required, and you are ready for the auditors when they come calling.

SmartyGrants does a lot of this work for you. We have a powerful permissions structure, and provide the ability to make file notes, store contacts and send and store communications. We protect your data and allow you to access it and export it as needed. Your human processes are up to you, though.

If you need help getting things in order contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

DANGER! It’s only a matter of time before your poor record-keeping systems land you in hot water. Take the time to get this right now.

SmartyGrants does a lot of this work for you. We have a powerful permissions structure, and provide the ability to make file notes, store contacts and send and store communications. We protect your data and allow you to access it and export it as needed.

Your human processes are important too. You should plan on investing in training and undertaking a systems review. A bit of work done now will ensure you can maintain clear, consistent communications with stakeholders, you can report on key data as required, and you are ready for the auditors when they come calling.

If you need help getting things in order contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Identify outcomes agents

Application form and process

Your answer: Yes

Great! As your application processes and forms are in good shape you’ll have all the information you need to make timely, considered and appropriate decisions that will put you in the best possible position to achieve your program’s outcome goals.

Your answer: Partly

Deficiencies in your application forms and processes may be preventing you from collecting the information you need to make informed decisions about who is best placed to help you achieve your program’s outcome goals. That means you might be awarding grants to the wrong recipients.

Application forms need to be easy to complete and provide you with all the detail you need to make good decisions – but no more. Your application process must be clear, fair, and appropriate to the type and size of your grant, and your targeted grantees.

SmartyGrants can help by building or reviewing your forms, and checking the structure and logic of your forms and processes. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

RED ALERT! Deficiencies in your application forms and processes may be preventing you from collecting the information you need to make informed decisions about who is best placed to help you achieve your program’s outcome goals. That means you might be awarding grants to the wrong recipients.

Application forms need to be easy to complete and provide you with all the detail you need to make good decisions – but no more. Your application process must be clear, fair, and appropriate to the type and size of your grant, and your targeted grantees.

SmartyGrants can help by building or reviewing your forms, and checking the structure and logic of your forms and processes. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Promoting the opportunity

Your answer: Yes

Good stuff – you have program promotions well in hand. This means you should be able to reach the right type and volume of applicants, which will ensure you can find and award grants to individuals or organisations that are best placed to help you achieve your outcome goals.

Your answer: Partly

You need to do some work on your promotions strategy. All grant applicants are not equal – you want the right type of individuals or organisations to apply for your grants. This saves you time in filtering inappropriate applications, and it saves applicants time as well. Plus having the right type and volume of applicants will ensure you can find and award grants to those best placed to help you achieve your outcome goals.

You can’t expect your grantees to come to you. You have to go and find them.

Appropriate promotions will help deliver more of the right type of applicants, and may also be important in creating wider awareness of your program's existence and aims.

SmartyGrants can help you refine your strategy. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

You are at great risk of selling your program short if you don’t urgently do some work on creating and refining a promotions strategy for your program.

All grant applicants are not equal – you want the right type of individuals or organisations to apply for your grants. This saves you time in filtering inappropriate applications, and it saves applicants time as well. Plus having the right type and volume of applicants will ensure you can find and award grants to those best placed to help you achieve your outcome goals.

You can’t expect your grantees to come to you. You have to go and find them.

Appropriate promotions will help deliver more of the right type of applicants, and may also be important in creating wider awareness of your program's existence and aims.

SmartyGrants can help you refine your strategy. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Assess and decide

Assessment process and recommendations

Your answer: Yes

Good on you! Your sound assessment processes will help ensure that you make the right decisions, and that those decisions can be justified and defended if questioned.

Your answer: Partly

Sound assessment processes are the basis for good decision making. They’ll also ensure your decisions can be justified and defended if questioned. Grantmaking has never been so scrutinised; you have to design your processes carefully, and document everything meticulously.

SmartyGrants can review your existing assessment process, or work with you to design new ones. We can even do the assessments for you if you need to place them at arms’ length. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

ALERT! You are at great risk of running foul of your managers, your funders, the auditors, and the media. Sound assessment processes are the basis for good decision making. They’ll also ensure your decisions can be justified and defended if questioned. Grantmaking has never been so scrutinised; you have to design your processes carefully, and document everything meticulously.

SmartyGrants can review your existing assessment process, or work with you to design new ones. We can even do the assessments for you if you need to place them at arms’ length. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Deciding

Your answer: Yes

Great! Fair and transparent decision-making structures and processes are essential to fairness (not to mention the appearance of fairness).

Your answer: Partly

Fair and transparent decision-making is essential to fairness (not to mention the appearance of fairness). It’s important that you act now to tighten up your rules, and document them carefully.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

WARNING! Weak decision-making structures and processes will leave you open to making poor decisions, and to allegations of bias. It’s important that you act now to tighten up your rules, and document them carefully.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Notify

Notifying successful applicants

Your answer: Yes

Good job! This part of program planning is often overlooked, but it’s important to get it right, as it can maximise your chances of creating goodwill and setting up good channels of communication with your grantees.

Your answer: Partly

It’s easy to dismiss this part of program design as easy or unimportant, but in fact it’s worth doing some thinking about how to get it right, as a good announcement strategy can maximise your chances of creating awareness and support for your program, and will also help set up good channels of communication with your grantees.

Find out more about how to tackle this aspect of your program design here from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

It’s easy to dismiss this part of program design as easy or unimportant, but in fact it’s worth doing some thinking about how to get it right, as a good announcement strategy can maximise your chances of creating awareness and support for your program, and will also help set up good channels of communication with your grantees.

Find out more about how to tackle this aspect of your program design here from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Notifying unsuccessful applicants

Your answer: Yes

Good stuff! Today’s unsuccessful applicant may well be tomorrow’s star candidate so it’s good to hear you’re handling this aspect of your program well.

Your answer: Partly

Managing unsuccessful applicants actively and well can reduce disappointment and anger, provide opportunities for improvement, and encourage ongoing involvement in your grants program. It canalso promote transparency, encourage trust, and provide relationship-building and capacity-building opportunities. It’s in your own best interests as well as your applicants’ to get this right: today’s unsuccessful applicant may well be tomorrow’s star candidate.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

Managing unsuccessful applicants actively and well can reduce disappointment and anger, provide opportunities for improvement, and encourage ongoing involvement in your grants program. It canalso promote transparency, encourage trust, and provide relationship-building and capacity-building opportunities. It’s in your own best interests as well as your applicants’ to get this right: today’s unsuccessful applicant may well be tomorrow’s star candidate.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Agreements

Defining terms

Your answer: Yes

Well done. A clear contract or agreement will ensure your grantees understand what’s expected of them, which will help set them up for success, and prevent disagreements later on.

Your answer: Partly

If your contracts and agreements are difficult to understand (for either party), mismanaged or missing key information, you could be in strife. A clear contract or agreement will ensure your grantees understand what’s expected of them, which will help set them up for success, and prevent disagreements later on. It would be worthwhile doing some work to get your contracts in order.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

WARNING: You urgently need to do some work on this aspect of your program design. If your contracts are difficult to understand (for either party), mismanaged or missing key information from the pre-contract steps, you could be in strife. A clear contract or agreement will ensure your grantees understand what’s expected of them, which will help set them up for success, and prevent disagreements later on.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Making payments

Your answer: Yes

Great! While grants should be all about outcomes, outcomes cannot be achieved without an efficient transmission of money.

Your answer: Partly

You can’t afford to let this aspect of your program design slip. While grants should be all about outcomes, outcomes cannot be achieved without an efficient transmission of money. Your payment systems can also be used to foster good behaviour and celebrate milestones.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

While grants should be all about outcomes, outcomes cannot be achieved without an efficient transmission of money. You need to act now to improve your payments systems.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Monitor

Monitoring grantee outcomes

Your answer: Yes

Great stuff. Your monitoring and reporting processes are A1.

Your answer: Partly

You’re probably not getting the best results from your monitoring and reporting activities. That means you’re at risk of supporting under-performing (or worse) grantees, and you’re lacking the data that will give you signposts to better results in the future.

SmartyGrants can help you refine your outcome goals, assess your risk and configure your monitoring and reporting processes to match. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

Progress monitoring and reporting is often treated as a one-sided affair, with a focus on the grant manager checking that the grant recipient is delivering according to the contract, and pulling them into line if they're not. However, if the process is managed well, the benefits of monitoring the progress of a grant can flow both ways, providing opportunities for both parties to build their relationship and improve or refine their understanding of progress towards outcomes.

You’re currently at risk of supporting under-performing (or worse) grantees, and you’re lacking the data that will give you signposts to better results in the future.

SmartyGrants can help you refine your outcome goals, assess your risk and configure your monitoring and reporting processes to match. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Managing performance and varying grants

Your answer: Yes

Great! You’re all set for anticipating and managing any issues that arise as your grants roll out.

Your answer: Partly

As the old saying goes, trust everybody but cut the cards. That is to say, you should be ready for problems before they arise, even while you hope and assume all will be well.

If you've failed to fully articulate a performance management policy and budget for dealing with performance issues, you're not alone – it's understandable that you might push these things aside until and unless they present in front of your face. Notwithstanding that, the best way to address performance issues is to anticipate them and stage an early intervention.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

As the old saying goes, trust everybody but cut the cards. That is to say, you should be ready for problems before they arise, even while you hope and assume all will be well.

If you've failed to fully articulate a performance management policy and budget for dealing with performance issues, you're not alone – it's understandable that you might push these things aside until and unless they present in front of your face. Notwithstanding that, the best way to address performance issues is to anticipate them and stage an early intervention.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Close the grant

Reviewing financial acquittals and closing grants

Your answer: Yes

Nice! Accounting for funds is grantmaking 101, and you’ve nailed it.

Your answer: Partly

Even if you have a trust-based grantmaking program – one that doesn’t seek financial reports from grantees – it’s important you document your policy. It's instrumental in safeguarding your program's reputation and ongoing support.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Your answer: No

Few grants programs can get away with short-termism – you always have to have your eye on next time. The proper financial acquittal of grants is important in understanding which grantees are good to trust next time with your funds, and in anticipating (and hopefully preventing) mismanagement and fraud. It's also instrumental in safeguarding your program's reputation and ongoing support.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design.

Reviewing funded projects

Your answer: Yes

Fantastic! Sounds like you’re leading the pack when it comes to evaluation of the activities you fund. If you’re not yet using the SmartyGrants Outcomes Engine to collect evaluation data, go check it out. It could save you heaps of time! Contact the SmartyGrants team to find out more or tell us about the work you do in this area – we’d love to hear it!

Your answer: Partly

It sounds like you’re on the right track but you still have a way to go when it comes to collecting data that will help you understand the outcomes of the work you’re funding. This is important work. If you don’t know the effect your grants are having, what’s the point?

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design, and the Outcomes Engine which can help you collect the data you need to understand more about the impact of your grants

Your answer: No

Grantmakers often pay lip service to the evaluation of the activities they fund, or neglect this process entirely. In some ways, that's understandable – determining outcomes is hard. But that's not really an excuse for not doing it. If you don't know what effect your grants are having, what's the point?

Perhaps more than any other grantmaking function, project review should be done in cooperation and honest partnership with your grantees.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design, and the Outcomes Engine which can help you collect the data you need to understand more about the impact of your grants

Evaluate and Share

Evaluating the program

Your answer: Yes

Congratulations! This step in the grantmaking process is key to continual improvement. Sounds like you’re ahead of the pack.

Your answer: Partly

You’ve made a start but it’s worth investing more in this phase of the grantmaking cycle – it’s key to continual improvement. Good program evaluation should involve reviewing not only the program outcomes achieved by the sum of all the projects (the "what"), but also the management and delivery processes (the "how"). The results of this process should be used to modify the program's goals, design and management systems if necessary.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design, and the Outcomes Engine which can help you collect the data you need to understand more about the impact of your grants

Your answer: No

It can be tempting to up sticks once the money’s all been dispensed and accounted for, but it’s unwise to do so. Program evaluation is key to continual improvement.

Good program evaluation should involve reviewing not only the program outcomes achieved by the sum of all the projects (the "what"), but also the management and delivery processes (the "how"). The results of this process should be used to modify the program's goals, design and management systems if necessary.

SmartyGrants can help. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design, and the Outcomes Engine which can help you collect the data you need to understand more about the impact of your grants

Sharing the lessons learnt

Your answer: Yes

Congratulations! You’re among the minority of organisations that take seriously their responsibility to disseminate knowledge. On behalf of all future grantmakers and grantees, thank you!

Your answer: Partly

We would urge you to do some more thinking about how you can spread the word about the work that you’ve funded, and what you’ve learned internally about how to give grants well.

This is not just about your program – grants programs collectively (and, in fact, all activities aimed at social, environmental, cultural or economic change) become more efficient and achieve better outcomes when lessons learnt are shared and implemented.

SmartyGrants can help you spread the word. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design, and the Outcomes Engine which can help you collect the data you need to understand more about the impact of your grants

Your answer: No

If there's one area where most grantmakers in Australia (in fact, in the world) fail, it's in disseminating all of the wisdom that's accumulated as a result of their grants. This is a terrible waste. We urge you to do some more thinking about how you can spread the word about the work that you’ve funded, and what you’ve learned internally about how to give grants well.

This is not just about your program – grants programs collectively (and, in fact, all activities aimed at social, environmental, cultural or economic change) become more efficient and achieve better outcomes when lessons learnt are shared and implemented.

SmartyGrants can help you spread the word. Contact the SmartyGrants team or you can self-serve from our banquet of free advice. SmartyGrants users also have free access to the Grantmaking Toolkit, which will guide you through this phase of your program design, and the Outcomes Engine which can help you collect the data you need to understand more about the impact of your grants

Submission

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