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OVERVIEW: Monitoring progress and reporting

Monitoring the progress of activities funded by grants is an ongoing responsibility of both the grantmaker and the grant recipient. The benefits of monitoring can flow both ways, providing opportunities for both parties to build their relationship and improve or refine their processes.

Grants monitoring and reporting processes should:

  • Be appropriate to the level of funds, capability and performance risk of grant recipients;
  • Be practical, in that they can be realistically implemented;
  • Actually check that the program and its projects are on track at the time of critical milestones;
  • Contribute to the building of relationships between grantmakers and grant recipients;
  • Build the capacity and capability of the grant recipient.

Progress monitoring and reporting (acquittal) is often treated as a one-sided affair, with a focus on the grant manager checking that the grant recipient is delivering according to the contract, and pulling them into line if they're not.

However, if the relationships between grantmaker and grant recipient is construed as a partnership, then there is another way.

"Positive action progress monitoring" is a process in which both parties agree that progress checks will be discussed and used as part of a continuous improvement process. When an issue arises, the parties cooperate to find a way to overcome it. For example, if the organisation that received the grant is not meeting its milestones because it has lost a key governance person, it might be agreed that a mentor administrator will be brought in for a period so others in the organisation can develop the required skills and get the project back on track.

Having the ability to vary the original contract or agreement allows both parties to respond positively to changing circumstances.

SmartyGrants TipSmartyGrants users:Contract Variation information can be collected and/or recorded against applications in SmartyGrants. Why not create a 'Contract Variation' form and have your applicants complete it online? Find out how.

When designing monitoring and reporting processes, then, consider these questions:

  • How will checks be carried out? Written reports, phone calls, site visits, workshops, photos, videos?
  • When will reports be submitted or checks carried out? At critical milestones, at regular periods, randomly or only on completion?
  • Will reporting take the form of qualitative or quantitative information, or a combination of both?
  • What action will be taken when either party doesn't deliver? Will they be penalised, or will the issue be discussed and resolved?
  • Will the grant recipient or grantmaker be able to initiate variations to the original contract?
  • Will monitoring and reporting be passive or pro-active and developmental?
  • Who will do the reporting/checking? Has someone from each party been identified?
  • What are the critical items to be checked? Inputs, outputs, outcomes, finances, organisational capacity, organisational capability?
  • How will the information be recorded? In a database?
  • Will the information be shared? If so, with whom?
  • What action will be taken when milestones are achieved? Will success be celebrated in some way?

Related templates


Two-way monitoring and reporting can provide grantmakers with opportunities to improve their systems and processes, and this can lead to better outcomes.

SmartyGrants TipSmartyGrants users: Acquittals (progress and final reporting) can be cumbersome to manage if not done well. SmartyGrants allows you to run your acquittal process online, making it much easier to track and review acquittals. Find out how.