Keeping it all straight: 8 tips for getting grant-organized
“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” – A. A. Milne
You got the grant. You thanked the funder. You notified all the involved parties. You and your team celebrated. You are ready to roll. Next comes the action – starting the project or activities that were funded!
Setting up your record-keeping system doesn’t sound quite as exciting, but it’s also important for many reasons. For example, it will help you find important information quickly, and you’ll be able to oversee the fulfillment of grant obligations.
Here are eight tips to help you get – and keep – it all straight.
1. Start your record-keeping system right away.
2. Scan copies of all paper documents and keep them in your computer files.
3. Electronic folders and subfolders will become your primary filing system. I usually suggest structuring the folders in six or seven major categories:
o Grant Proposal – the original proposal, amendments, etc.
o Budget Information – the original budget, any budget amendments, and budget worksheets and notes
o Financial Reports, including documentation of required matching funds
o Correspondence, including relevant emails
o Progress Reports
o Evaluation Information – statistical information, reports, analysis
o Collaboration Documents (if the grant is for a collaboration with other organizations) – agreements with the collaborators and relevant information about them and their programs
4. Use a unique name and date for each electronic document. So, rather than simply calling a document “report,” name it “Monthly Report June 2013.” Then you can tell what is in each document by looking at the name, rather than having to open every document to see what it contains.
5. Back up your computer files regularly. Don’t forget. Back up your files. Regularly.
6. Consider keeping copies of each grant file on its own flash drive for portability when needed.
7. Start a file in your email software for this grant. Sub-files may also be helpful. Keep copies of emails relating to the grant and grant program.
8. Maintain a paper file. Yes. A paper file. Organize all paper relating to the grant in one file. When you meet with the funder or others who are involved with the grant program, bring the folder with you so you can quickly access the information you need. You can use a partition folder, a heavy pressboard file that use two-hole punches at the top of each sheet, or a heavy-duty three-ring notebook. While your electronic files may contain much more information, this hard-copy file will include the basic and relevant information.