A colleague/friend recently told me about a pair of grant progress and final reports made by two organizations---both which, when reporting to the respective granting foundations, “gilded the lily” somewhat to mislead the grantors to believe that their money was well spent in keeping with the original intent and promises of the initial grant proposals.
This reminded me of a some-time-ago consulting engagement I had which included my preparation, and the organization’s presentation, to a foundation for a two-year grant which was awarded. I concluded my stint with the non-profit just after the first year, and left them with all of the required instructions for what they must do after the second year of the grant.
Some time later, I heard that the organization’s officials were less than honest in their final report to the granting foundation regarding actual outcomes from the grant. The foundation soon learned the truth, and told the organization to never again submit a request for funding. There was as well a good chance that the incident would be a matter of discussion between that grantor and other grantors in the area. It was not lost on me that my reputation could suffer as well. Though far insulated by time, nonetheless, I was there at the beginning with the promise of later accounting, assumed to be nothing but truthful.
Such disasters can readily be avoided in a given organization by everyone simply telling the truth. The staff grant proposal writer, the one writing the grant in the first place, has the resources to ascertain all of the real and true facts regarding the use of the funds, be it good, middling, or poor, and reports accordingly to the grantors. If some staff or leadership encourages a rosy report to be made when it is not true, the grant proposal writer is in good position to lobby for the truth being told by alerting the others to consider the risks of their cutting off any future support. Even potentially worse, is when there is no staff grant proposal writer in place to help keep the reporting honest.
What have you grant writing consulting professionals found to be a way such faulty progress and final reporting pitfalls can be avoided after you have gone on following your writing engagements with those client organizations? You cannot always still be contracted months, even a year or two after, when grant final reports are to be provided to grantors. And it is often not practical to keep in touch with a courtesy call to ask how they are handling the progress and final reports. Even then, you might not get the true picture.
Do you think that when you conclude your engagement in such cases that, grant proposal writer or none on staff, you see to it as best you can that the organization puts in place, somehow, a required “external overseer” of sorts, say, that being the finance manager, or even someone external from staff, such as, the firm of a board member attorney, banker, or accountant?
Please consider your views to apply as well for current, short-term, reporting situations, not only for multi-year, much later, reporting.
Thanks for your advice,
Tony Poderis http://www.raise-funds.com
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