Extra Money at the End of the Year?

This year, you have profited from the School Funding Center Database, and unbelievably, it is the end of the year.  I’m always brought up short when that realization hits. Bam! OMG how am I going to close out this year with some dignity?

One thing that often happens to grant managers, they end up with extra money at the end of the year. You may have over budgeted for supplies, one of your paid workers dropped out; you didn’t need as much equipment as you thought… extra cash. How do you prepare for this possibility?

Each year, at the beginning of the school year, I ask certain key people to make wish lists of things they need for their classroom. Obviously your principal will have such a list, but don’t forget your Library Media Specialist, the fine arts people, the physical education staff. They are often the last to receive money in a budget, and the ones with the greatest needs. Isn’t it always the way?

Have them draw up two or three lists, $50 – $100, $100 – $500 and $500 – $1,000. They will probably need supplies, but remind them to think about mini-projects, discrete little activities that may require staffing for instance. Ask them to try to align the lists with this year’s grant objectives. Then when you review your expenditures at the end of the year and find some leftover resources, you will be ready to go.

If the goals for this year’s objectives are now history, and your go-to people are forward thinking, they will want items that align with next year’s academic achievement needs. You’ve analyzed your test scores and have discovered some deficits, right? In this case, you can do an amendment to this year’s grants. Most foundations and corporations will be responsive to an amendment but they will require you to stay within your original mission.

You may only need to amend your grant to move money around. You needed more supplies than staff salaries? Generally, you can move up to 10% of any budget line to another. The key is, do not increase the line you are amending TO more than 10%. You can shift funds from multiple lines this way, but if you exceed the 10% limit on the destination line, you will need to contact the grantor. They don’t bite. In fact, it creates a great opportunity to touch base with them for potential support for next year.

You’ll be spending the summer writing more grants right? It is addictive and now that you’ve been successful a few times, momentum to keep the ball rolling will be required. Sustainability for any grant project must be planned through your narratives. Your grantor is going to want to know how you’re going to keep going when their support is gone. A grant recipient who has this firmly planned into their project will be supported again and again.

There are different kinds of support. There are in-kind donations. A local company may be willing to provide gently used computers when they upgrade their technology. Check with your own IT people though. They may have strict rules about this; you don’t want to run afoul of their policy restrictions. In any event, you must keep detailed records of any shifts in budgets and expenditures. Your grantors will want some form of a final report; they may even send their own auditor in to look at your books. Be sure everything is ship shape and in a separate binder for each grant. All you have to do is pull it out and hand it over. They will be impressed with your initiative and professionalism.

So, end of year cleanup extends to grants. Your ultimate goal is to have a 0 on your balance sheets. Ask your school district business manager about a few dollars and cents left over. There may be an “old money fund” you can move money to.

Next year is another matter altogether. The only exception is the multiple year grant. But, I digress (and get ahead of myself). That is for another blog.

Let me know how you’re doing, I might feature your school in a future blog entry.


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About Neva Fenno

Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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