Thursday, September 21, 2017

Grant Management Portal: What to Include



If your government agency or non-profit provides grants, your applicants and grantees may expect a web portal to apply for a grant, check on that status of their applications, and submit post-award reports.  Grant software such as Microsoft Grants Manager Plus offer portals which allow you to interact with your data via the portal rather than store the data in a second place and replicate the data.

This blog post offers ideas for how to get the most out of your grantee portal, and which features and content to include in your implementation.

Consider which elements you will offer to anonymous users and which will be visible only to applicants and grantees who log in.

Grant Program Background

The portal may be the first place that the public and grant applicants learn about your programs.  It is a place to tell your story, with text, photos and videos that show how your grants make an impact.

Dynamic content can include reports, graphs and maps showing who receives grants and how they are spent.  For instance, several of our clients included maps showing the impact of economic stimulus spending on public infrastructure.

Eligibility Rules and Application Instructions

The portal should contain eligibility information for prospective grantees, and contact information for grant managers or your help desk where applicants can turn for additional information.  This is general static information which can be conveyed through HTML pages or links to documents as appropriate.

Online Applications

Applicants often expect to be able to apply online. Applications usually consist of online forms along with file attachments for backup materials such as budgets or longer narratives.  Be sure that your portal saves data often so that applicants don't lose data they enter in an incomplete application.  Similarly, unless they are quite simple, most grant applications are not finished in a single session. You should allow applicants to save their work and resume the application later.

Consider including training videos, especially if your applications or process are complex.

Grantee Documents and Templates

In addition to application forms, you may want to provide document and spreadsheet templates to your prospective applicants.  Documents such as these may be stored on your web server or in SharePoint or another document management system.

Grantee Login

Before they apply, you will want applicants to create user accounts and provide their profile information.  Microsoft Dynamics portal provides facilities for creating accounts, changing passwords, and lost password recovery.  Consider using multi-factor authentication, such as sending a confirmation code to a mobile phone, if this is appropriate for your organization.

Application Status

The portal should allow authenticated (logged on) applicants to view the status of their grants and applications.   Often this is shown as a table on their home page.

Payment Requests

The portal can allow grantees to submit payment requests based on grant activities.  These requests may be tied with status reports.  Often the payment request is integrated with the financial management system to initiate the process of reviewing and issuing the payment.

Post Award Reports

One of the most valuable functions of a grants portal is to allow grantees to submit periodic post award reports.  These reports often include attachments with material such as receipts or spending details.

For more information on grant management and Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, see my posts:

Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software
Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation
Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Online Resources for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager
Statewide Grant Management Systems
Usage Scenarios for Microsoft Grants Manager

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Grant Management for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

Hurricane Harvey reminds us that Americans are vulnerable to natural disasters which can be devastating, especially to low income cities and counties.  Federal grants are key to recovery and rebuilding efforts.

As explained on its website, "HUD provides flexible grants to help cities, counties, and States recover from Presidentially declared disasters, especially in low-income areas, subject to availability of supplemental appropriations. In response to Presidentially declared disasters, Congress may appropriate additional funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program as Disaster Recovery grants to rebuild the affected areas and provide crucial seed money to start the recovery process. Since CDBG Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) assistance may fund a broad range of recovery activities, HUD can help communities and neighborhoods that otherwise might not recover due to limited resources."

Grants Manager Plus for Microsoft Dynamics 365 includes key functions needed for managing Community Development Block Grants, allowing CDBG recipients and sub-recipients at all levels of state and local government to track their applications, grants, post-award reports and payments.

To tailor Grants Manager Plus for your unique requirements, it may be integrated with your financial management system to process payment requests and report on budgets using your chart of accounts.

The solution is based on Microsoft Dynamics 365, and may be hosted online by Microsoft or on premises at a customer's data center.  It allows sub-recipients to access information through the Microsoft Dynamics Portal, a website which is simple to use for applications and reporting.

You can use SharePoint to store documents such as application forms and templates with Microsoft's included integration services.

For more information on grant management and Microsoft Grants Manager Plus, see my posts:

Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
6 Things to Look for in Grant Management Software
Estimating the Cost of a Microsoft Grants Manager Plus Implementation
Grants Manager Plus: Theme and Variations
Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Online Resources for Microsoft Grants Manager Plus
Portal Options for Microsoft Grants Manager
Statewide Grant Management Systems
Usage Scenarios for Microsoft Grants Manager