Using CiviCRM To Manage Grants That You Receive

Recently I worked with Grantmakers In The Arts, a national association of private and public funders making grants to artists and arts, to provide training on how they can get the most out of their CiviCRM database. In this post I am going to explain one specific bit of functionality that I helped them think through: managing grants that they receive (as opposed to give).

The CiviGrant module of CiviCRM is designed to keep track of the grants that an organization gives out. It is fairly basic and rudimentary in its features, but does allow you to track the giving of a grant, some key data information and amounts, as well as some dates and reporting. I have not met an organization for which CiviGrant actually meets their grant administration or tracking needs. We often have to add custom fields for installment amounts, grant cycle dates, additional reports and grant proposals. 

This was my first experience with an organization that wanted to use CiviCRM to track the grants that they received. So here is what i suggested to them:

I recommended using CiviGrant to track all the grants they apply for regardless of received or not. Each grant application submitted would would have a civigrant record that is associated with the grantmaking organization (a contact in CiviCRM). To meet the needs of this (and probably any) client, some custom fields would need to be added to the CiviGrant object. These fields should probably be in a single field group, and would include (though not be limited to):

  • Grant Term (the number of years the grant will cover) this could be an integer, or a multi select field, that allows you to choose years from an option list
  • Interim report due dates
  • Is the grant a split grant (ie part for gen ops, part for conference) a y/n field
  • If Split grant, is this civigrant the primary civigrant record, the one for which the report are due?

New Grant Types may be needed to correspond to the funding categories mentioned above.
Split grants would be recorded as two separate civigrant records.

The solution described above would allow for recording grant applications and their status (pending, approved, rejected), as well as reporting requirements for those grants (through standard and custom fields), it would also allow for the amounts to be recorded, but not the actual transactions in such a way that they are calculated within the CiviCRM financial management system.

I recommended that all financial TRANSACTIONS associated with a grant be tracked using CiviPledge. A new pledge record would be created for each grant received. Split grants would be recorded as a single pledge because the payments may come in in lump sums, not split up between the intended uses of the money.

CiviPledge allows you to indicate how many payments are expected at what interval, and then it creates a scheduled pledge payment for each. CiviPledge wants these payments to be equally apportioned in amount and time, however they can be edited or adjusted at the time of payment.

If the payment schedule is know (exactly or approximately) the scheduled pledge payments should be edited from last payment to first because CiviCRM wants to recalculate the pledge amounts and seemingly wants to do it in this order.

When payments on a grant are made, they would be recorded by looking up the grantmaking organization, then clicking on the pledges tab, then expanding the pledge payments list for the particular pledge and recording the specific payment (date and amount).

It may be a good idea to add a custom field to payments of a certain subtype (funding partners, or grant payments, for example) or to the pledge that allows you to indicate the Grant (either by “name” or by link to the actual civigrant record(s)) that the pledge payment is associated with.

Reports on pledges will show your received and expected pledges and will be group-able or sumarizable by date (month, quarter, year) so that you can see what your expected income is from the grants (pledges).

CiviGrant reports could show you the specific grants that you are waiting to hear about, or those you received in a particular period of time, or those with reports due.

Remember, CiviGrant is designed from the perspective of a grantmaking organization, not a grant receiving organization, so there are some language issues that you will just have to live with.

Does this sound like a recipe for functionality that would be useful to your organization or clients? Leave a comment to let us know!

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