Reporting on Successes & Challenges
Collecting information on project activities and how funds are used from grantees
Reports are used to stay up-to-date on project activities as well as approve additional grant disbursements. Similar to the application design step of the process, it is important to consider what information is needed and how the grantee can best communicate that information in a useful way. The questions and prompts should align with the funding given, both in regard to content matter and amount of information being asked.
- What information is needed to close the grant or provide the next funding disbursement?
- What information would be helpful to compare or report on across grants from the same funding program?
- What information is required to be on hand during an organizational audit?
Review the Grant Agreement, which should include reporting requirements that were agreed upon at grant initiation along with outcome goals and measurements that grantees should report on.
Revisit program goals/metrics along with any program reporting requirements for funders or community stakeholders to ensure that pertinent information is collected from grantees.
A great starting place when creating a report template is the application and/or project plan. This ensures that project managers are reporting on the materials used to authorize the grant and the outcome measures that were developed specifically for the project. It is also important to require a budget-to-actual financial update to ensure that funds are being used as planned, and if they are not, that they are still being used in a way that is appropriate for the funding program before additional disbursements are made or the grant is formally closed.
- Interim Report: Used to check in about the project. Ask about progress to date, upcoming activities, and good documentation opportunities.
- Final Report: Used to ensure that the grant can be closed in good standing. Ask for a summary of project activities, outcome measures, and how the funding was used.
Send a Reminder
While information about reporting requirements should be included in the grant agreement, it is important to send a reminder with the report template 2-4 weeks prior to the report due date. Subsequent reminders should be sent once the due date has passed until the report has been received.
Amend the Grant Agreement (if necessary)
If the terms of the agreement are no longer accurate (change in use of funding, timeline, project team or partners, etc.), an amendment to the grant agreement is created and signed by both the funder and the grantee in order to approve the changes. Information from a report or other form of written update can be used as justification for the amendment, and should include information on activities that have already taken place and funds spent to-date along with an updated timeline for still anticipated project activities. This report can then be considered an interim report, with a final report then being required when all of the project activities have been completed and the funds spent down.
Terminate the Grant (if necessary)
If a grant needs to be closed before the project has been completed, it will need to be formally terminated. If grant funds are still remaining when the grant is closed, the grantee may be asked to use the funds for ongoing project activities. If there is a significant amount remaining or if the grantee does not plan to continue with any project activities, they will be asked to return the remaining funds.
Closing the Grant
Once the final report has been approved by Sprout, the grant can be closed in good standing. This indicates that the project has successfully concluded and allows the grantee to pursue additional funding opportunities from the funder.
As a way to support projects and project managers even after the grant has been closed, it is recommended to offer to write letters of support for former grantees. This helps project managers pursue funding to sustain the project and vouches for their success in managing a project as they pursue new endeavors.
Methods We Love
Reports that parallel the application. By creating a report template that mirrors the application, grantees are better prepared to report on the information being requested. This additionally helps to align the report appropriately with the size and type of grant.
Verbal Reporting Option. For some people, grant reports can be very daunting. To help make this requirement more approachable, consider making program staff available to verbally go through the grant report questions with grantees, either in-person or by phone, to make it more conversational. Alternatively, if there is a group of grantees that need to report around the same time, host a small event to enable project managers to meet their reporting requirement by reporting out to the community through a brief presentation or project showcase.
Making report photos, videos, or portions of written content available online. If given permission by the grantee, make some of the report information public through updated project profiles. This helps share the story of the project and its connection to the overarching funding program in a more dynamic way. It is also a great place for grantees to direct people to learn more about their project.
Combine the grant report with the funding application for the next round. If grantees often seek additional funding once the current grant is closed, streamline the process by asking both how the funds were used and how this work informed their next steps, leading directly into a new request for related funding.
Be diligent is tracking report materials. While completing grant reports is much less exciting than receiving the funds, it is still a necessary step of the process. After determining what is needed to meet reporting requirements, be sure to maintain an up-to-date tracking systems of what has and has not yet been submitted. This is especially important to maintain if grantees must close current grants before seeks additional funds or if a grantee has a bad track record of not fulfilling reporting requirements.
Templates & Downloads
- Progress Report Template
- Final Report Template
- Final Financial Report Template
- Final Financial Report Sample
- Sprout Standard Report Template Examples
- Sprout Final Report Example - 100 Days
- Sprout Final Report Example - Change Machine
- Report Reminder Notification Template
- Grant Amendment Email Template
- Grant Closed in Good Standing Notification Template
- Grant Termination Notification Template