Recently, the Iowa West Foundation’s Grants Team took a look at a piece of reporting that we know is a pain point for a number of our grantees. The process in question relates to the financial reporting we require as part of closing out a grant or requesting a disbursement from the Foundation. If you have been a grantee of the Foundation in the past, then you are probably acutely aware of the amount of paperwork that can be required to request a disbursement. If you’re a new grantee or considering applying, then the good news is – you may never have to find out.
Knowing this has been a stumbling block in our reporting process for some grantees, we took a look at what the best practices are around financial reporting in the philanthropic world. Through our research, we identified some tried and true ways that other foundations have streamlined their reporting, while still ensuring strong stewardship of their investments.
So, the big question is: What will change?
In the past, we have asked for transaction-level information about how our funding was used. Moving forward we are going to be asking grantees to provide summarized information in the form of an updated budget. During the application phase, each grantee submits a projected budget for the grant. As part of our reconciliation process, we will be asking for our grantees to update the budget with the final, actual numbers. This will significantly reduce the amount of reporting for most of our grantees.
We will also rely on more frequent “spot checking” of information based on areas we know present higher levels of risk.
For the majority of our grantees, this means a clearer, simpler system of reconciling the grants. In the past, the old way of doing business worked because we only required enough information to show the 1:1 match. As we have moved to basing the match requirement on the application, this level of reporting has become burdensome for some organizations.
Moving forward, you can expect to see a kinder, gentler, disbursement request form.