Last Updated:

April 11, 2023

The Ultimate How-To Guide for Grant Reports (with Templates)

The Ultimate How-To Guide for Grant Reports (with Templates)

You have received the news that your organization was awarded funding. While you’re excited to begin using the funds to complete your work, you need to keep grant reporting requirements in mind. Having a grant reporting template on hand can help guide you through the reporting process.

In this article, we are going to share what you need to know about grant reporting and provide you with some templates to help you understand what is expected of you now that you have been awarded a grant.

What is a Grant Report?

Reports are an important part of the grant writing process. The grant report is your chance to show the grantmaker that you have put their funds to good use. A grant report will be used to provide the funder with information regarding the work they are supporting and may include other information about your nonprofit as well.

Every funder will request information about how their funds are being spent, so it is important to understand reporting requirements. By knowing the reporting requirements ahead of time, you will be able to track the appropriate information throughout the project. Keeping track of this information as you go will then make completing the reports much easier when they come due.

Depending on the funder, you may be required to provide both progress reports which are submitted during the project timeline as well as final reports which are submitted upon project completion. Providing accurate reports in a timely fashion will help your nonprofit secure a lasting relationship with the funder.

Grant reports also offer a great opportunity to showcase the strengths of your organization which will encourage the grantmaker to provide ongoing funding. Additionally, the process of completing grant reports will help you develop a narrative as well as outcome data that can add value to future documents such as annual reports, newsletters, and future grant applications.

Below is a screenshot of the project narrative which was submitted following the fourth year of a multi-year project. The full sample can be viewed here. We have provided this as a sample of the type of information that may be included in a grant report. In the following section we will break down the parts of a report further.

What Should You Include in a Grant Report?

You will find that each funder or grantmaker will have different grant reporting requirements. We are providing information on the sections that are most commonly requested in grant reports. These sections can be used as a grant reporting template to help you understand the report writing process. Keep in mind that many grantmakers will provide specific templates or at least include instructions of their own.

Grant Summary

The grant summary should provide an overview of the work that has been completed. The summary will help remind the funder about the overall project and should be inspired by your original grant application. Be sure to include basic funding and project information.

You will also want to make sure to mention any changes between your original application and the work that actually took place. For example, if you planned to reach 3000 people but only were able to actually reach 2000, you will need to explain the reason for this change.

We have included a screenshot of grant summary report instructions provided by the Springfield Foundation.

Milestones

Many funders request a proposed timeline or calendar as part of the grant proposal. Your grant report should include all major milestones that were a part of the funded project. If you are submitting a progress report before project completion, make sure to include milestones appropriate at the time of the report.

You can once again reference your original application (if it included milestones), but make sure to make edits as needed so your report is accurate.

Financial Statements

One of the most important parts of the report will be the financial statement as the funder will want to know how their dollars have been used to benefit your nonprofit and those you serve. The funder may provide specific formatting for you to follow so that they receive standardized data from all funded agencies.

It is important to align your reporting with your original grant budget. However, you want to show all project costs and expenditures which can include additional funding sources.

Some funders may also request financial information for your nonprofit overall to help ensure sound practices. Demonstrating sound financial practices for your nonprofit as a whole is a great way to form or maintain a long-term relationship with a grantmaker. They will be more inclined to fund an organization that demonstrates stability.

Project Activities

The project activities of a grant report will break down what took place during your project. You may be able to reuse or rephrase information from the project description or narrative within your original grant proposal. Make sure that you include all portions of your project and explain how they fit into the goals and strategic plan of the overall nonprofit.

Another important aspect that you should make sure to mention is partnerships. You will likely have included plans for partnering in your original application, so make sure you highlight those that took place.

While describing the project activities, be sure to feature ways your nonprofit leveraged additional resources such as volunteers. Grantmakers appreciate the ability to stretch dollars by utilizing these types of resources. Volunteer time can also be included in your financial reporting, as each year there is an hourly rate value put on volunteer help.

The Heckscher Foundation utilizes a logic model to track project activities and results. You can view the full sample here and we have provided a sample screenshot below.

Results and Impact

Funders want to know how their support helped your nonprofit make a difference.

Results and impact will be a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. Including detailed data will show the grantmaker that your nonprofit is professional and results-oriented. While the funder will appreciate seeing numbers, they also want to see the bigger picture of the impact. You can reference information from your original application and compare it to demonstrate what you have achieved and include stories from program participants to help the grantmaker see who they are helping.

Lessons Learned

Although your grant report should show successes, it is also important to share information about what may not have worked. Grantmakers understand that projects don’t always work out exactly as planned and they will appreciate your honesty in sharing the truth. They also know that one of the ways your nonprofit benefits from their funding is through the learning process. Being honest with the funder about the process will help them build a relationship with your organization.

Willingness to admit what did and did not work also demonstrates the ability of your nonprofit to learn from mistakes and your interest in overall growth.

Future Plans & Sustainability

One important aspect of every project is sustainability. Most grant applications request comments on this topic, so you should be able to reference this information for your report. The funder wants to know that the work they are supporting will be able to continue in some form or fashion beyond their funding. You may have plans for other funding, new partnerships, adjustments to the project to cover costs, or other ideas.

By sharing your future plans for sustaining the work, you will show the grantmaker that you have a long-term vision. This section can also be a place to discuss additional partnerships and resources that you have or plan to seek. Grantmakers appreciate knowing that they are not your only funding source.

Additional Information

Make sure to include anything else that you feel may be important to the funder in your report. Depending on what was requested, additional information could include stories about those your project served or sample surveys that were used for data collection as part of your project.

Not every funder will have a formal section for this information, but you can add it as you see fit.

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How to Write a Grant Report: 5 Steps to Take

While it is helpful to create or utilize a grant reporting template to guide your grant reports, there are also a few steps you want to make sure and follow.

1. Understand Reporting Requirements

The first step to writing a grant report is understanding the grant reporting requirements. These requirements may be easily available on the grantmaker’s website, or they may have been provided to you when you were awarded funding.

By understanding the reporting requirements before beginning your work, you can make sure to track the appropriate data and be prepared for writing your report(s).

2. Track Data Throughout Project

Data such as numbers, demographics, etc. is much easier to track throughout the project rather than trying to collect it all at the end. It is important to plan your data collection based on your grant proposal as well as known reporting requirements.

You may also utilize tools such as surveys to collect qualitative or quantitative data and these will need to be administered and tracked during the project as well.

3. Follow Report Guidelines

Make sure that you properly follow reporting guidelines so that you provide all the requested information. Guidelines could include specifics regarding the length of your report. You may also be submitting reports in an online system that limits word or character counts.

Guidelines may also include specific formatting of documents and information within the report. If you are not provided with specific length requirements or limitations, aim to provide as much detail as is requested without making your report too lengthy.

4. Be Honest

One important aspect of your grant reporting is to be honest. Funders will appreciate your honesty and it will help your organization either form or maintain a relationship with the grantmaker.

You want the funder to see that they have helped your project be successful, but they also understand that things don’t always go as planned. By being honest about your lessons learned, you will demonstrate to the funder that you know how to learn from mistakes. Sharing this type of information also helps to show that you can be flexible and adjust things as you go.

5. Meet Deadlines

Make sure that you meet all reporting deadlines. Similar to when you complete your grant application, the easiest way to harm your relationship with the funder is by not meeting deadlines.

Deadlines will be provided as part of the reporting requirements. Instrumentl provides tracking tools that can help you easily manage these reporting deadlines.

Here is a screenshot showing how to create reporting tasks within Instrumentl. These tasks will help provide reminders to you and your team to make sure that deadlines are met.

Sample Grant Reporting Template

Earlier we outlined the typical sections or types of information that are likely to be part of your grant report. In this section, we have provided samples for various types of reports that can help you create the right grant reporting template for your nonprofit. We have also created our own sample reporting template for your use as well.

Grant Progress Report Template

This progress report is from the 319 grant program through the state of California. The grantee is completing a water quality project and you can view the entire progress report here.

We have also provided a screenshot of the first part of the report as a point of reference. The screenshot shows a list of items included for review and upon viewing the link, you will be able to access all the additional information. Note that these 319 grants are provided through the Environmental Protection Agency and then by state governments, so they have relatively detailed reporting requirements.

Some grantmakers may request a grant performance report which will be similar to a progress report.

Quarterly Grant Report Template

One way that a funder may request updates throughout the grant period is through quarterly reports.

Here is a link to quarterly report information from the Human Resources and Services Administration for their Maternal and Child Health program. There are many aspects of this report that are specific to the program, but it provides good insight into the types of data and information that may be requested.

Quarterly reports are more likely to be required for larger grants or government grants, although it will depend on the funder.

Grant Financial Report Template

Below is a grant financial reporting template from the Archstone Foundation. You can read more about this report here. As with each of these samples and templates, it is important to keep in mind that every funder is likely to have their own financial reporting template or financial reporting guidelines.

Note that this report requests expenses for each quarter, but every funder will request different information. Some grantmakers only request your original budget and your final expenses. It is also important to keep in mind that the expense categories will differ between funders and may also be dependent on your grant application.

If your expenses have differed from your original budget, you will likely add some narrative with this report, or there may be another section that will provide an opportunity to explain.

FINANCIAL REPORT
INSERT NAME OF ORGANIZATION & PROJECT NAME
Insert Reporting Period Dates
Archstone Budget 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter YTD Expense Variance
PERSONNEL EXPENSES Insert Dates Here Insert Dates Here Insert Dates Here Insert Dates Here
Staff Position Title (% FTE) $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
Benefits @ X% $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
Consultants
Type of Consultant $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
PERSONNEL SUBTOTAL $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
DIRECT OPERATING EXPENSES
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
$ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
DIRECT OPERATING SUBTOTAL $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
INDIRECT COSTS
Indirect Costs @ X% $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -
TOTAL PERSONNEL, DIRECT OPERATING & INDIRECT $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ - $ -

Grant Final Report Template

We have provided a link to a final report template provided by the Santa Barbara Foundation for their Early Care and Education Grant Program. Their grant final report template breaks down the major requirements that we highlight, although they provide specific questions that cover the main topics.

Rather than having sections for grant summary, milestones, results, etc., the funder uses guiding questions to gather the same type of information. Many grantmakers will provide some type of grant final report template to help you complete your reports, or they may accept reports through an online system that has guiding questions built-in.

We have also created our own final grant report template which includes the sections that we touched on in this article overall.

We have created a simplistic spreadsheet for tracking project expenses, but keep in mind that there may be specific sections required based on your project or the requests of the funder. You may also have to provide documentation such as receipts for certain expenditures.

Note that for your results, you want to reference what you proposed in your original grant proposal. The grantmaker may also have provided insight on what types of results they are looking for.

Final Grant Report Template
INSERT NAME OF ORGANIZATION & PROJECT NAME
Grant Summary (please provide a brief summary of the grant)
Milestones (please share major milestones within the project and grant period)
Financial Statements (please use the provided spreadsheet to report project expenses)
Budgeted Expenditures Difference
Personnel (salary, etc.)
Supplies
Utilities
Overhead

Additional Examples of Grant Reports

We also found a couple of other sample reports and grants reporting templates that we wanted to share for reference.

The Colorado Common Grant Report is a template provided by the Community Resource Center and covers many of the sections discussed in our article. You can download the blank report form from the website for review.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund requires multiple reports for grantees who receive funds through their Student STEM Enrichment Program. You can view templates as well as a video explaining their data capture tool through the website.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Prepare Grant Reports

We have walked you through what grant reporting is as well as what information is typically requested within grant reports. Hopefully you have found the background information as well as our suggested steps insightful. You can utilize the grants reporting templates to guide your report writing.

Grant reporting can seem daunting, but it is a necessary part of the grant writing process. Well-written reports will help you form and continue lasting relationships with funders to help your organization thrive and grow.

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