Mary, a nurse manager at a community clinic for sexual health, described grants as a blessing and a curse. While they provide core funding without which the clinic could not operate, they can make for difficulties in aligning budget needs with grant requirements. From Mary’s perspective, financial management was more than ensuring reasonable budgets, accurate accounting practices or expenditure analysis- one also had to understand grant funding policies and how to comply with them. Mary provided the example of American Nurses Foundation funding, which required documentation and paperwork to be submitted within sixty days of the receipt of funds (ANF, 2016.). It is tempting to focus on the objectives of the grant project or program, compliance with grant policies was just as important to success.
Skills which nurse managers needed to manage grant funding were strong communication and administration skills to fulfill regular reporting requirements. For example, it was important to notify funding agencies about problems or line items changes as early on as possible, and before making expenditures which did not align with the submitted plans. This was the best way to ensure that funding continued. When there are problems with communications or reporting it can delay future funding or make an organization ineligible for further funding.
While it is easy to nod in agreement to ideas about transparency and accountability in grant funding, it is important in the evolving implementation of transparency and accountability to understand the expectations and practices which are expected of financial managers, including CNL (Wood et al., 2013). While technical skills in financial management are the cornerstone of excellence in ensuring the sustainability of a clinic, it is clear that these alone are not enough. Also required is in-depth understanding of how grant funding policies work, and ways to respond and manage the difficulties that occur when such funding sources are the main components of the budget.
- American Nurses Foundation. (2016). 2016 – Nursing Research Grants Program Grant Recipient Policies. Retrieved from: http://www.anfonline.org
- Wood, M., Hollister, H. & Buggs, J. (2013). The Changing Landscape of Grant Reporting: Federal Requirements, Data Transparency and Tomorrow’s Grant Managers. Streamlink. Retrieved from: http://www.datacoalition.org/