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Posted by on Nov 3, 2015

Meet me in St. Louis #GPAConf2015

Meet me in St. Louis #GPAConf2015

It’s hard for me to believe that I’m getting on a plane next Wednesday morning for St. Louis for the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) 17th Annual Conference. Maybe it will become more real once I tick “Don’t forget to vote” off my checklist this evening.

Last month I started my prep for GPA National by attending the first Virginia GPA Conference. On the bus ride home I had the opportunity to reflect on what I heard and observed. First, I was struck by the increasing collaboration needed to secure Federal funding in large (and small) competitive program pools. From a policy perspective, one could see this as progress. We want our Federal task dollars funding the “best” proposals possible. From the grant recipient proposal, one could see this as another barrier to funding the good work they support in their community.

This has led me to think all throughout October about how grant-seeking organizations cope with the myriad of strings that come with each grant award. It really becomes an intricate web, especially when it comes to reporting progress and milestones (not to mention the dollars). It’s also a web that more organizations need to spin as they diversify their funding portfolios.

I also continue to track the conversation on the establishment and implementation of internal controls in accordance with the Uniform Guidance. How does relate to the complex funding web above? The concept that the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR) meant to recognize these complexities, and move towards industry standards, such as those found in the COSO Report.

I interpret this as the intent of one organization having a single set of “rules” for how it runs its business. This is an excellent goal – one set of rules should mean less complexity and variety on your internal operations, and thus more efficiency. A singular approach should also make it easier for leaders and auditors to ensure compliance with internal controls and policies.

However, I understand that implementation of a singular approach might be a challenge for anyone (i.e., recipients) who wants to make their customers (i.e., funders) feel and be special. Many of us are wired to instinctively say, “Yes,” when asked to meet an individual, one-off requirement, even when that diverts precious time and resources away from the mission-driven project.

Before I assume too much on what grant funded organizations do and should do, I want to hear from you. Please come find me at the Management Concepts booth in St. Louis, or start the conversation in our comment section below. It’s important for us to hear from you, our students and partners, on how the information we provide in our grants curriculum can cross-apply to multiple aspects of your organization.

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