How to Report on Grant Progress

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Have you noticed that the effort that goes into a notable achievement is often invisible? An athlete or entertainer is said to make something difficult “look easy,” suggesting that a lot of work was done “behind the scenes” to achieve that high level of performance. Yet when it comes to fundraising/development, we often hear “The money is out there,” as if to suggest that meeting a fundraising goal is “child’s play.” Reporting on grant progress is therefore not just a prerogative, but a necessity.  LAPA takes this function very seriously. Here’s how we do it, and you too can as well:

First, we have what we call a Revenue Report, an excel spreadsheet tracking instrument modified for improvement over 20 years. In a clear, readable format, the Revenue Report is divided into sections as follows:

SECURED: grant awards received;

PENDING: proposals, LOI’s, and applications pending;

PROSPECTS: prospects in initial stages of investigation;

DISQUALIFIED: prospects we have ruled out for various good reasons; and

REJECTED: funder rejected submissions.

This instrument gives you your whole grant history—at a glance. We update the report as we go along, each time we submit a grant, hear back from a funder, or receive news in whatever form.

Second, we routinely send copies of all our submissions to all internal parties. Why? Well, on a basic level we want them to read the grant and be aware of it, but we also want to get their feedback for improving the document. And, of course, we want them to be aware of the request should the funder contact one of them directly.

Third, we provide periodic updates that add depth to the Revenue Report by highlighting the larger dimensions of our activities. These updates convey additional details about:

  • New prospects recently surfaced
  • Meetings sought or obtained with prospective funders
  • Cultivation letters send to keep your nonprofit on the funder’s radar screen
  • New contacts or relationships we’ve established with funders or stakeholders
  • New fundraising strategies we’ve devised
  • Lapsed funders we’ve gotten in touch with
  • New materials we’ve created to accompany grant proposals
  • And numerous other efforts we make to raise more money for you

Boards and executives really appreciate these reports. It makes visible what we do “behind the scenes.”

Did you know that LAPA can manage your private grants? Please email Laurence A. Pagnoni, Chairman of LAPA.

How do you report on grants and other fundraising activities? Please email Sheldon Bart, and let him know.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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