Tips for Managing a Research Grant

Nov 14, 2017 by

For universities and nonprofit organizations, advances in scientific research can be accelerated with additional funding and scientific partnerships. Research grants can help you hire key personnel and invest in equipment that will help advance scientific research that’s important to your institution.

Most government agencies and foundations have strict policies and budgetary guidelines that stipulate how grant funds should be spent. The reporting process is critical to ensuring you’re institutional goals are being met and that you’re following funding agency protocols. Let’s explore some tips to better manage your research grant and cut down on exhaustive labor.

Plan Ahead of Allocation

Managing research grants requires cross-departmental collaboration among administrative, financial, and operational departments to ensure funds are properly allocated and research can begin uninhibited. Set institutional policies in places that outline the goals of your research project, as well as a plan of execution to complete them.

Grants could require budget adjustments to meet the guidelines of the funder. Ensure that processes are already put in place for reporting and properly managing grant research so that you can secure funding for future research. You’ll need to set processes for data collection, manage review board approvals for operational sites, hire staff to begin research when greenlit, and review your plan of action to ensure critical deadlines can be met.

Reporting Basics

You’re going to need to continually compile a pro-forma budgetary report every quarter to ensure funds are properly allocated and provide an overview of progress. Set up alerts in advance to begin planning your report. Your report should include a basic financial overview, how targets are being met, any challenges so far, changes of plans, and the outcomes of the research at whole. Even if the foundation doesn’t demand quarterly reports, create some anyways to establish a good rapport.

Create Experiential Interactions with the Funder

It’s important to keep regular contact with your funders and a great way to do this is by providing interactive updates of your progress. Be sure to document everything from pictures of events to any key data findings to report to the funding organization. This will develop your relationship with the funder and position your organization to receive future funds when required.

Enable Technology Solutions

Data collection, financial reports, and budgetary overviews are incredibly cumbersome, especially when your organization’s bandwidth is full. Invest in a grants management system that will help you track reporting metrics and integrate data collection right into your CMS. This will give team members more time to focus on research and more valuable tasks at hand.

Have Quality Control in Place

From financial to operational procedures, it’s key that quality control measures are in place to help you meet deadlines and make sure no unexpected obstacles arise. These controls will be useful for your next grant application so that you can show funders that you have policies in place to ensure funds are being utilized to their fullest.

Report to Partner Organizations

This one is often overlooked by many organizations. If you have partner organizations or universities helping you with a research project then it’s important to include them on any reports you submit to the funding organization. If you share funds with another partner than it’s key to work out subcontracts so you can properly organize how funds and research should be allocated. Finally, be sure to invite any of your partners to experiential interactions and events you’ll be hosting in the community or as part of your research.

Follow the Calendar

You need to be able to meet deadlines outlined in your proposal. Funders are not likely to award you future funding if you fall behind on commitments or execute sloppy research. This speaks more toward setting up realistic goals and expectations before the award with your funder and partners.

Look Toward the Future

With these processes in place you can begin to look toward more funding opportunities and use your experience and progress to pad your next application. Be sure to narrow your focus on funders relevant and connected to your organization. You are likely to keep receiving continual funds by developing strong relationships with the same funders because every funder has different requirements.

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