Six ways to ensure successful collaboration on grant projects

Collaboration is a common occurrence in grantsmanship today. Even when funders do not require it, many applicants find that in order to carry out a project successfully, they need the expertise and resources that others can provide. For example, a technology vendor or university researcher might be helpful in planning and carrying out an assessment of your grant project. In fact, some funders require specific types of collaborative partners for a grant-funded project.
 
Collaborating has some pretty apparent benefits, but it also brings a unique set of challenges for grant writers. Here are a few suggestions to help make working with collaborative partners and writing a collaborative proposal a smoother experience.

(1) Identify and involve all possible collaborating partners as early as possible in the proposal process. This will create buy-in and make defining the project easier. Sometimes it’s hard to identify all partners until you’ve formulated more details about a project. Ask partners on a regular basis during the first few weeks of project development if there is another individual or group who should be brought into the process.

(2) Make sure the top official from your collaborating partners (a university dean, university president, school district superintendent, or agency executive director) is aware that a staff person has been attending proposal development meetings representing his or her organization. Learning about a collaboration when you’re asked to sign a commitment letter is not the right time to discover this information.…Read More

Keeping careful documentation of grant expenditures will keep you out of trouble

A few weeks ago, I participated in a webinar that discussed A-133 audits. For those of you who are not familiar with this term, Circular A-133 is the document that provides information about audits for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. If you are already receiving federal grant funds, your business office is probably familiar with this document. If it isn’t, you should bring this document to the attention of your business office to prepare for any audit of the federal funds you receive.

In 1981, the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) was created. According to the council’s web site, "the mission of the PCIE is to continually identify, review, and discuss areas of weakness and vulnerability in federal programs and operations to fraud, waste, and abuse and to develop plans for coordinated, government-wide activities that address those problems and promote efficiency and economy in the programs and operations." The membership of the PCIE is made up of Inspectors General appointed by the president and federal agency heads. A list of these individuals can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/pcie-memberlist.pdf.

Although the webinar went way over my head about halfway through the slides (I am not an accounting expert by any means), the results of a 2007 report mentioned by the speaker caught my interest, because it contained wise advice for any grantee regardless of the size of its grant award. This report, the Single Audit Sampling Project (SASP), looked at audits that had been conducted and identified specific areas of weakness that were common to federally funded programs. There were two areas reported by the speaker that contain helpful information, I think, for districts that receive federal funds subject to A-133 audits.…Read More