8 Grant Management Best Practices for Local Governments and Councils

Avoid mismanagement with these 8 grant management best practices. Improve your local government's collaboration, transparency and impact today.
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Grant management best practices and why they matter

With a topic as sensitive and scrutinised as grant management, it’s essential for local governments to have grant management processes that enable them to operate efficiently while maintaining public trust. With the proper processes and systems in place, local governments can streamline the application, assessment, reporting and acquittal steps of the grant lifecycle, while ensuring transparency in the funding process. Efficient grant funding is dependent on the oversight enabled by centralised management and requires accountability and collaboration to reach its fullest potential. To help you in your grant management efforts, we have outlined 8 best practices for local governments and councils.

An effective and transparent grant management program is essential to improve citizen engagement and gain public trust. Grant management best practices provide a framework to reduce the complexity of local government funded programs. These principles will guide you through funding and reporting requirements, simplifying the grant management process and reducing the workload of funding teams. It supports insights into outcomes, your ability to report back to funders, and your case to ensure repeat funding.

1. Implement an end-to-end grant management software solution

Grant management software enables organised and streamlined grant lifecycle processes, by connecting the application, assessment, reporting and acquittal steps. These systems save you time and create universality and accessibility to imperative information. A clearly defined structure implemented with a grant management solution like Enquire opens up grant application possibilities and allows you to disburse funding quickly, clearly define requirements, create configurable reports, and more.

2. Enable collaboration at every stage of the grant lifecycle

Dedicated workflows across a host of processes give every member of your team a manageable and intuitive view of task progression. Task management features keep accountability and communication simple — encouraging team members to stay on pace for deadlines, check-ins, and progress updates. Workflows can be used to manage assessments and document processes, such as contracting. Features such as internal and external user roles linked to workflow steps, time stamps and document version history logging make your workflows collaborative and auditable. These features are further enhanced with Enquire’s Next Gen workflows which add internal and external comments against forms and throughout document processes.

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3. Adopt a citizen-centric approach to application, assessment, and reporting

An optimised applicant experience is crucial for any grant management program, but especially so in the public sector. Not only does a citizen-centric approach to grant management improve application quality, but it also lays the foundation for successful project delivery. Enquire drives citizen engagement through a dedicated external client portal. With configurable forms and intuitive UI, this portal allows you to engage applicants and other stakeholders with notifications and alerts. Our solution was built with the user in mind to ensure a smooth digital experience, getting funds to the right causes easier and more efficiently while providing constituents with a clear access point to discover local government grant opportunities and complete their subsequent reporting requirements.

4. Use workflows to focus your assessment and mitigate risks

Understanding and mitigating risk to funding and qualifying the best grant applications is imperative for a successful grant management program. Without getting a clearer picture of funding sources, deadlines, and the grant lifecycle, misallocation of funding is inevitable. Software solutions like Enquire help you mitigate risk through configurable assessment scoring criteria, milestone tracking and regular progress reporting. These tools allow local government fund managers to maintain a complete vision of project delivery to assess risks and intervene before they materialise in wasted funds, project delays or other undesirable outcomes.

 5. Instill transparency into your core processes

The regulation around transparency in the grant management processes is continuously evolving. To ensure your processes are up to date consider reviewing your state’s official grant management best practices or sign up for our newsletter to stay across general sector trends. Compliance to these regulations creates assurance within recipient communities, as constituents can see how government money is being spent. Enquire’s formalised structure — user-defined roles, auditable records, and impact reporting — helps you ensure compliance and build trust within your community. For those seeking to go above and beyond mandated requirements, or pre-empt proposed future legislation, adopting a grant management system in the short term has enormous benefits across the board for the future of local government organisations and their constituents.

6. Record and document everything for maximum oversight

This grant management best practice may sound like a monumental effort. And it can be if you’re working in a paper-based system, desktop apps or a range of dispersed web services. If this is the case, consider the option of a centralised grants system with automatic data capture. We say this because effective grant management requires complete documentation. In Enquire, consolidated data enables searchable documents with permission-based access and version controls. This ensures that all members in your team can access the most up-to-date information, anywhere, at any time. Version history management adds additional auditability, while workflows automate capturing signatures and reconciling contracted data in the system.

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 7. Integrate your financial and grant management systems

It goes without saying that having your finances in order is essential for running an effective grant program. Taking this a step further, best practice grant management requires a comprehensive system for organising invoices, grant payments, financial user permissions and contract management. To minimise the friction when adopting a grants management tool, consider a system which integrates with your existing financial systems. Enquire’s integration with standard financial system frameworks enables you to manage both funding in-flows and out-flows. You also benefit from full schedules against individual projects and tools to associate costs with payment milestones, so you can better track how funds are being spent.

8. Incorporate data-driven decision making to drive results and share outcomes

Your grant management solution will require continued programmatic review to address weaknesses and track performance. Enquire’s one-click reporting demonstrates impact, helping you ensure future funding from the federal government and satisfy key stakeholder requirements. By capturing data at every instance throughout the fund lifecycle, Enquire makes it incredibly easy to configure impact reports on the exact information you need to share. This data also makes it easy to compare program performance with a range of configurable KPIs throughout your grant portfolio. This comparability enables your team to more easily replicate successful projects to deliver impactful community outcomes.

Some further perspective on improving your local government programs

In recent years, there’s been greater demands for transparency across all levels of government. With this development, a requirement for tools that enable auditability is what keeps local government accountable and communities more trusting. Transparent grants management means that more disclosed information is almost always better than less information, as it provides greater trust in the grant process. To see how climate change policies are driving some of these trends you can visit this blog.

An effective grant lifecycle solution enables quick and easy access for all government stakeholders, and is a universal apparatus for grant application, funding process, grants assessment and financial management. It allows for a simplified government process, reducing the stress and red tape that government grant work often contains.

Enquire is your grant management solution

Designed to address government needs and community concerns, Enquire makes implementing local government grant management best practices easy. Here are some key features and benefits that make Enquire the solution for managing grant funds and programs in local government and councils:

  • A white-label client portal to optimise the citizen experience where applicants identify grant funds and opportunities with ease.
  • Form builder featuring user-designed fields for easy feedback, and project updates, allowing you to deliver impact reporting faster than ever.
  • Automated payments and grant history, accounting for all expenditure to enhance governance.
  • Payment milestones break down key touchpoints and deliverables in your grant’s lifecycle.
  • Ability to define and align program outcomes for your council with comprehensive and configurable key performance indicators across multiple grants, getting funding to the people who need it the most.
  • Enhance your decision-making and outcome reporting with rich data capture and analytics throughout your grant portfolio.

Give your local government grants program the boost it needs with Enquire

Enquire’s solution streamlines fund management so your local government organisation can focus on addressing your community’s needs.

Try Enquire for free for yourself with our interactive product tours or reach out to our team for a free personalised demo.

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Enquire Grant, Contract and Impact Reporting Management software streamlines administration, enhances visibility and automates reporting across our 3 easy-to-use online solutions. 

  • Publish and administer online grant applications online
  • Manage grant contracts, projects and relationships
  • Report on grant status, budgets, milestones and impacts
  • Online contract repository for all contract documents
  • Generate contracts, set alerts and track contract status
  • Automate reporting, renewals and milestone tracking
  • Set and track plans, KPIs & impact goals
  • Collaborate externally, capture data and communicate
  • Grow investment and improve investor relations
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