You’ve received the call (letter) that congratulates you for your successful application for a grant. You are elated, and you should be very proud of this accomplishment. Remember you were in competition for the award, other applications were vetoed. Grantors are very careful about awarding grants. They know the project they have chosen will reflect on them. Their political or social agenda will be furthered or hampered by the project you will launch.
The first thing you must do is handle the check properly. When it comes in, it will probably be sent to your attention unless other arrangements have been made (large awards may have bank transfer arrangements so you will never actually see the check). Your school district business manager will help you develop procedures for this step; the check must be deposited in an account that can be accessed as you work through your project.
The account that is established will have “lines”. You’ve probably heard about them, your principal may have said “there is no line for that in the budget”. The lines are set up according to the application budget you submitted. You may have worked with the grantor to fine tune the lines, they have experience with projects like yours and they may be able to help you delegate the funds.
When you want to make purchases with grant funds, you will need to generate a requisition. In your district you have a business office that handles purchasing. There is a carefully established procedure for generating the requisitions. You may need to send a purchase out to bid if it is a large piece of equipment. Learn the rules around going out to bid. If you hire a teacher to do the work after school, it will require a signed part time worksheet with a description that details the limits on the number of hours they can work. They will need to submit invoices or time cards against this limit and their invoices must be signed by an administrator.
“Yikes” you say. Hang on to your hat, it’s just started. Purchase orders need to be monitored to make sure the things you buy are exactly what you ordered. Companies expect payment in a timely fashion, a purchase order is a contract to buy, and you need to be sure you have a packing slip or other proof of receiving the items. When you submit the packing slip to your business office they will check it against the purchase order, then they can start the process of generating a check to pay for it. In some districts this may take a month or more. Businesses that work with schools are used to payment delays but the sooner that packing slip is handed in to purchasing, the sooner the company is paid.
The purchasing process in schools is written in stone. Do not try to deviate from it. Do not write a check from your personal account to speed things along – you will be the one waiting for payment or reimbursement, and it’s possible your district has a rule about this. Be sure you know what the rules are. I remember a time when a teacher took students to lunch as part of a field trip. She failed to get a receipt for the food. She never got a reimbursement. It happens all the time.
Every event or step of your project will have record keeping involved. You will develop your own way to handle the records, but your business manager can guide you. This district has regulations, your school district is part of a municipality (town) that must follow very carefully developed laws about purchasing and invoice payments.
This is all hard work, and it’s possible that it is not your favorite part of the grants process. You’ll need to develop new skills. Below are some resources for learning more about setting up record keeping procedures for your grants. You are now officially facing a number of laws and you’ll want to know what they say.
Thank goodness for the Internet. There are some wonderful websites that can help you “set up the books”.
- IRS Compliance Guide
- Keeping Records of Your Grants
- Grant Management Software
- Grant Records
- Alaska site, but useful record keeping information
- Record keeping templates in Excel
- Financial spreadsheet tutorial
- Five ways to maximize grant funding
Let us know about lessons you learn, especially record keeping lessons.