What is involved in managing program funds?
While the effort to attract and secure funding may seem tough at times, sometimes managing multiple grant agreements and funding sources can feel equally as onerous.
Some challenges of managing program funds include:
- Long lead times between applying for funds and actually receiving them.
- Funding cycles that don’t line up from one funder to the next.
- Reporting requirements that are very prescriptive or inflexible.
- Restrictive uses of funds (i.e. not for travel, not for legal, not for honoraria, not for capital purchases, etc.).
- Tracking what each funder expects and managing your program to meet those expectations can be overwhelming and draining of time and energy.
Some strategies for minimizing the burden of managing such a complex funding environment include:
- Keeping an updated master calendar with all upcoming proposal and reporting deadlines.
- Keeping an updated spreadsheet or master list of all program funding sources and what components of your program each can (and can’t) support.
- Carefully tracking and documenting program activities, expenses, etc. as you go to make reporting easier.
- Developing reporting templates and building in requirements for regular daily or weekly field reports and monthly project/program reports that can easily be rolled up into funder reports. See the Template 'Monthly Indigenous Guardian Report'.
- Being proactive and developing a reporting template that works well for you and then working with program funders to integrate it into their reporting requirements.
- Understanding funder expectations around program evaluation and conduct quarterly or semi-annual evaluations to assess program activities. Capture this information in such a way as to make reporting easier. See the Evaluating your Program section.
- Factoring in time on a regular basis (i.e. every Friday afternoon, at month end, quarterly, etc.) to tend to your funding administration needs.
- Building-in shared responsibility and a team approach for managing funds and funder relationships. How can the guardian team, program manager, accounting, administration, etc. work together to meet tracking, evaluation and reporting needs efficiently and painlessly?