You’ve just gotten the exciting news – you’re expecting (a new grant, that is)! Your award letter has arrived, and it’s official – you’re getting money for that new roof, that exciting educational program, or that brand-spanking-new exhibit.
Whether you’re getting a Heritage Areas Program grant, an African American Heritage Preservation Program grant, a Cultural Resources Hazard Mitigation grant, or a Certified Local Government grant, you must be experiencing HUGE excitement in anticipation of your new arrival. At the same time, you’re feeling a little trepidation. You now have a big project ahead of you, with new responsibilities, paperwork, and deadlines!
What you’re feeling is completely normal. In order to make the coming months as worry-free as possible, we have put together a guide to help you prepare for what lies ahead. Keep in mind, though, that just like every new baby is unique and special, every grant program and project is also different. If you’re uncertain about something, make sure to consult your specific grant agreement and grant program guidelines, which can be found on the MHT website.
Preparing for your new grant:
You are no doubt anxious to get your hands on those grant funds, but there are a number of things that need to happen before the money arrives in your bank account. The key to getting through this phase is to ensure that you are responsive in a timely manner to all requests and requirements.
The following are things you can do to get ready for your new arrival:
Do the paperwork:
- If your grant monitor has sent you a project summary sheet to verify project details, be sure to complete it and submit it as soon as possible – even if there are no changes!
- When your grant agreement arrives, review it carefully and ask your grant monitor any questions you may have about the contract. Have it signed by the appropriate person and return it to your grant monitor.
- Make sure you complete the corporate resolution form, which is sent to you along with your grant agreement – it’s how we know that your organization has accepted the grant funds and requirements, and who is authorized to sign grant documents. Make sure you have all the necessary signatories listed!
- If your grant monitor has sent you a Minority Business Enterprise Plan, be sure to complete and return that as well.
- If your grant monitor has requested any other information from you, such as proof of property ownership or site control, proof of match, or proof of insurance, or if they have requested a meeting with you, make sure to respond in a timely manner.
Get your organization ready:
- Share the good news! Let your organization’s membership, board, and partners know you’ve been successful in getting a grant. Let them know how they can help!
- Determine who the project lead is, and make sure your project monitor has their contact information. Also, make sure that person is listed as the primary contact in the online grants system (they will get all the e-mail and all the snail mail!).
- Plan internal responsibilities, roles, and deadlines – who is responsible for what, when? Keep key players informed about progress on your grant.
- Make sure the right person from your organization attends any orientation meetings or webinars required by your grant monitor.
Get your project ready:
- Create a file so all your project materials are in one place, and make sure everyone knows where to find it if the project lead is unavailable.
- Anticipate the next steps for your project and get a head start. Are there any prerequisites or conditions for your grant funding, such as conveyance of a preservation easement to MHT?
- If you are required to donate or modify an easement, you can begin the process at any time after you’ve received your award letter. Read more about easements.
- If there’s already an easement on your property, you’ll have to get MHT’s approval of the work before you begin. You can review the requirements and find all the forms here.
- Don’t select a contractor by Googling “rehab contractor” and calling the top result. In most cases, you’ll have to make sure all services paid for out of your grant funds are competitively procured. If you’re ready to get started with this step, contact your project monitor to review the requirements.
Get your finances ready:
- Check to make sure you are in good standing with the State Department of Assessment and Taxation. (You can’t get your money if you’re not!)
- Call the Comptroller’s office to set up direct deposit (it means you get your money faster!). General Accounting (410-260-7813 or 1-888-784-0144) should be able to help you through the steps. Make sure you understand what documentation will be required of you.
- Find out how your organization handles payments, writes checks, and makes sure contractors get paid.
- Talk to your bank about how to get cancelled checks or other proof of payments, so you can begin collecting and organizing them as soon as you start spending money.
Even after completing all these steps, you may still need to wait a bit longer before your bundle of joy arrives, and we know that waiting can be frustrating.
Please be patient and use that time to make sure everything is ready to go. The quicker you complete your required items, the quicker your project will move forward, and ultimately, the quicker we will be able to issue your payments.
And remember, whenever you have questions or concerns, your grant monitor is there to help.
Getting a grant can be a challenging but, in the end, rewarding proposition, and we are excited to begin this journey with you!