Your grant application is often the first step to measuring and
evaluating your project. It is the most comprehensive statement of
what you will do if your application is successful. So you will
need systems for recording information, monitoring and evaluating
your progress and performance just as much as the funder does.
This can help provide you with information about your progress
and performance to:
- Check against budgets, targets, timetable, objectives and
- Make adjustments if you are going off course
- Publish in your annual report to help build public image
- Demonstrate your effective use of funding to use in your next
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation shows good business practice and is
often a condition of the grant. There are no hard and fast rules
about what is required for evaluation. It will be very specific to
the criteria laid down by the funder.
- Some individuals and charitable trusts ask nothing from an
organisation once a grant has been given.
- Other major foundations or trusts ask for a narrative report -
a detailed analysis of the project and evidence of the difference
it has made.
- Government and lottery grants will require routine monitoring
of the project - progress checking against the delivery plan.
At a minimum, an evaluation should be carried out once a project
has been completed. In the case of projects lasting up to three
years, an interim evaluation should be carried out at mid point to
assess impact and make any necessary adjustments. For impartiality,
an independent third party is often used for larger projects and
payment can be built into the business case or proposal.
Scope of evaluation
The scope of the evaluation should include at a minimum, the
1. Financial forecasts and budgets
Your financial forecasts should show how and when you receive
income and incur expenditure year by year. You may produce a budget
just for the grant, but it is better to show how the grant fits
into your whole organisation or a distinct part of it, provided you
indicate clearly what is grant expenditure and what is not.
2. The timetable
Break the project down into different stages (e.g. recruitment -
start up - development - first milestone - second milestone -
completion) and perhaps again into component tasks (e.g. manager in
post, accommodation ready, other staff in post, induction training
completed, admin systems in place etc).
3. Measurable targets
Try to come up with more telling targets, which you can keep
track of e.g. the numbers of new volunteers or trainees recruited,
additional people receiving your services and events held.
Measuring the immeasurable
The most difficult thing to do is to record things, which you
cannot count - such as the impact of your project on the shy
unemployed volunteer whose outlook changes dramatically, and who
acquires new skills or the confidence to take up a training course.
However, do not depend on remembering these changes - keep a log of
significant developments or progress files on the people who work
on the project. It is hard work, but it can be powerful ammunition
when you want to attract funding next year.
Outcomes monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluating outcomes are becoming
more and more important to funders. The Big
Lottery Fund and the Charities Evaluation Service has recently
issued guidance on how organisations need to focus on the outcomes
of any project in their application forms. It is crucial therefore,
that you continue to or get started immediately to monitor your
activities and collect evidence to input into future
Conditions of grant
The conditions of grant will vary depending on which body is
responsible for issuing the grant. Care should be taken to ensure
that any conditions stipulated are met in full. In particular, they
- How the money is to be used
- How reimbursement will be made for expenditure incurred
- The final date by which claims should be submitted
- Proper financial records and controls should exist
- Audit requirements in terms of annual reports
- Issues relating to the purchase of capital assets
- Treatment of VAT
There is a requirement for your organisation to confirm that
they accept the terms and conditions by signing a copy of the
document and returning it to the funding authority responsible for
issuing the grant.
If at any stage of the project, an alternative method of
achieving the same outcomes is identified, and which would involve
the use of approved funds differently from that agreed by the
funding body, then they should be consulted before any decision is
taken to vary the agreed terms and conditions of the grant. If this
is not done then it could lead to the grant expenditure not being
reimbursed to the organisation and thus a cost against the
Accounting for expenditure
Irrespective of the type of grant, a complete record of
expenditure will need to be maintained. There is a statutory
obligation to retain financial records (as at current time 6 years
plus the current financial year) in accordance with CIPFA
Accounting Code of Practice.
Receiving grant income
The frequency of claim will depend on the particular grant
conditions - most commonly, this is quarterly in arrears. The
provision of reports at the close of each financial year for all
grants is a specific requirement and they should be available for
scrutiny by external auditors.
Where grant payments are paid in advance this process is still
required plus additional supporting documentation to justify
expenditure against the advance provided.
Keys to success in grant procurement:
- Maintain a summary sheet showing what expenditure has been
- Readily supply copies of invoices, timesheets, and if possible
reports from the general ledger showing the expenditure against the
relevant cost centre.
- Always maintain a summary of the progress made to date against
the original project objectives.