5 Quick and Easy Ways to Report Grant Outcomes
The number one reason why individuals do not make a subsequent gift to an organization is because they do not know what a difference their first gift made for the clients the organization serves.
Foundations have people too so logic suggests that people running foundations also want to know what a difference their funds made in the life of your clients. Furthermore, for many grants, you have a contractual obligation to report on how you spent your funds. Regardless of the requirements, you begin to cultivate the next grant when you plan to report on the outcomes of the current grant.
When done right, grant reporting does not need to consume an exorbitant amount of time for an organization. Try these five tips to streamline your grant reporting while giving the funder a clear picture of the impact they made for your clients.
Plan grant reporting when you write the grant. You may think you will have a better chance to win the grant award if you promise the moon and the stars when you write the evaluation plan, but, guess what, the funder will expect you to deliver. So ask yourself what outcomes or outputs will help you best measure the value of the funds within the resources at your disposal and promise that … and nothing more.
One you receive the grant, review, revise and implement your evaluation plan. NOW is the time to start to evaluate the grant, not 11.5 months from now with a report due in 2 weeks. What did you promise? Does that still make sense given the award and how your organization has evolved since you submitted the grant? If not, create a revised evaluation plan and talk to the funder about your changes. Once you have a solid evaluation plan, make sure everyone involved knows their role. Do they need a pre-test? How often do they test? What demographic data should they keep? When evaluation becomes part of the project, it becomes seamless.
Look for opportunities to involve the funder in your clients’ successes. I had one client who invited a funder along as they delivered coloring books to cancer patients as an art therapy. Although the funder could not attend, they were glad for the invitation and enjoyed pictures of the nursing staff gleefully accepting the coloring books. If you have a less visual project, invite clients to write thank yous to the funder; you can use pseudonyms or leave them unsigned if anonymity is important.
Have an unexpected hiccup or success, keep the funder informed throughout the year! Just like an annual employee performance evaluation should never contain any surprises (because your boss should tell you throughout the year what you do right or wrong), your annual report should not surprise the funder. Call or drop them a letter to let them know it has taken you longer than anticipated to hire staff to start your program. Ask them if they know a good evaluator if yours has dropped out of the project. Let them know you leveraged their funds to double the number of clients served. Share newspaper articles about your program. Use these opportunities to strengthen your relationship with the funder.
Send the final report on time and with all required information to fulfill your contractual obligations. But also give them the personal side of their funding and your organization. Send them a success story of one of your clients. Bring a client to meet with them when you deliver the report. Send thank you notes from clients. If they do not require a final report, send one anyway. Tell them what a difference their funds made in the lives of your clients. Remember to focus on the why, not the what as you demonstrate their impact.