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Why Excel Is No Longer Sustainable for Government Grants Management

2021 drove home the need for grant modernization in a new and urgent way.

As government grant administrators have learned, managing grants through spreadsheets, legacy systems, and paper-based processes was implausible with the pandemic forcing many to move their workforces online. And as future emergencies arise that stress the system, managing grants through Excel and paper-based processes is no longer sustainable, leading to more human error, single audit findings, and costs down the road.

In our latest webinar, attendees heard from eCivis’ Certified Grant Management Specialist, Maria Howeth, about how to standardize approaches, leverage automation, and modernize their grant processes to be equipped for today’s crises and for long-term economic recovery.

Click here to watch the full webinar on demand.

Challenges with existing grants administration practices

Year-over-year, the number of grant programs and dollar amounts increase while funding distributed also increases. At the same time, there’s been a significant decrease in the amount of resources to effectively and efficiently manage these funds.

A recent Center for Digital Government (CDG) survey found state and local governments experience a variety of operational challenges and resource constraints. The findings include:

  • 35% of respondents said their organizations don’t have a standardized process for grants management
  • 19% cited reporting challenges
  • Only 11% of respondents said it’s currently easy to access grant documents and applications within their organizations
  • 31% of respondents said they currently use Microsoft Excel as their primary grants management software tool
  • Over 30% said these processes were either not very easy or not at all easy

How Excel and paper-based processes exacerbate these challenges

4 ways to standardize your grant management and alleviate those challenges 

1. Centralize the tracking and management of grants

  • Find relevant grant opportunities faster: Rather than spending hours on reading over a NOFA, use a customizable keyword search engine to fast-track the process. eCivis’ pre-award system even allows you to have the perfect opportunity delivered straight to your inbox.
  • Improve your chances of getting grants: Acquire more grant funding with the ability to track progress and report on all of your grant applications, projects, and expenditures in one place.
  • Manage grants in one place: Cloud-based grant management helps improve visibility for every member of the team, from any location, at any time. Access the information you need to track grant performance and for reporting purposes.

2. Digitize reporting and documentation

By moving grant management online, it’s easier to track different funding streams, i.e. blended and/or braided funding while streamlining the search and/or intake of funding.

More importantly, a grant management system can enable electronic documentation of every state of the grant life cycle–resulting in better tracking of spending and preparation with digital records when it’s time for the single audit.

3. Automate compliance with 2 CFR 200

Having electronic documentation is key to making sure your grant programs are aligned with Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200.

By going digital, it becomes easier to track grantee history (if you’re awarding grants), performance, and risk profiles in a central location. Additionally, you can track spending, payment, and impact of grants by aggregating performance data across departments and programs.

4. Alleviate administrative burden by having controls in place

When responsible for grant dollars and federal funding, internal controls are a must. The most important type of internal controls include:

  • Alignment of grant priorities to organizational/agency/strategic goals
  • Standard operating procedures regarding all aspects of grant management
  • Training and technical assistance to the grant management team as well as to applicants and grantees/subrecipients on administration and execution of grant awards
  • Regular meetings between financial and programmatic teams to ensure concurrence on policies and management of existing awards

If you need help alleviating your administrative burden and are interested in going digital for your grant management, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our Certified Grant Management Specialists like Maria are ready to help address any questions you have.


eCivis is the nation’s leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving grants performance for local governments and community-based organizations.

eCivis is the nation’s leading grants management software solution and the ideal platform for improving grants performance for local governments and community-based organizations.

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