Grants Health Check

Our Health Check guides you through a nine-stage process that should take you around 40 minutes. We assure you that it will be time well spent.

The review will take you through a quick self-assessment of:

  • Goals, governance and guidelines, including program design and eligibility criteria
  • Record keeping, including being able to track applicants from your first contact
  • Application process, including design and promotion
  • Grants assessment and decision-making about successful applicants
  • Advising grants outcomes for both winners and the unsuccessful
  • Agreement and payments, including negotiating contracts and making payments
  • Monitoring and variations, including progress reporting, managing performance issues and varying grants
  • Final report and acquittals, including acquitting funds, closing, and reviewing funded projects
  • Evaluation and dissemination, including assessing your program and sharing the lessons learnt.

Expect that our Health Check will give you some homework, with the results also directly emailed to you. If you don't get homework, please alert us at so we can share some of your secrets.

For everyone else, your Health Check homework will be comprised of a series of practical steps and advice to improve your grantmaking. Can you afford not to do the Grants Health Check?

Plan and Design

Goals, governance and program features *

Is the overall program approach fully and clearly documented (including stakeholders, management structure, target groups, focus on established or emerging organisations, focus on capacity building, the use of competititive tender processes) or not? Are diagrams and flow charts included where appropriate?

Outcomes-oriented program design *

Is the overall program approach fully and clearly documented including stakeholders, management structure, target groups, selection methodology and/or any secondary outcomes e.g. focus on capacity building?

Eligibility criteria *

Is the information you need to determine the eligibility of applications and to then assess them clear? Are the eligibility and assessment criteria clear?


Setting up grants management and record-keeping systems *

Do grants management and record-keeping structures systems and processes enable grants managers to track applicants from the first point of contact until the last? (e.g. from inquiries, applications, assessments through to agreements, payments, reporting and acquittal processes)

Identify Outcomes Agents

Application Form and Process *

Is the application process (including timeframes and documentation) appropriate to the:

A. size, complexity and level of assessed risk of the grants B. requirements, capabilities & capacities of the intended target group C. relationship the program owners wish to build with the grantee D. preferences of stakeholders for passive or active approaches E. preferences and capacities for rolling applications versus application rounds?

Promoting the opportunity *

Do you have a program promotion strategy?

Will it ensure the program reaches the intended grantee target group in the language and mediums appropriate to them, and also meets the requirements of all key stakeholders, including promoting the grant owners?

Assess and Decide

Assessment process and recommendations *

Is it clear how and when applications will be assessed (e.g. criteria, assessment centres, compliance checks)?

Is the scale of your assessment process proportionate the size of your grants program?

Will the application assessment process meet stakeholders’ objectivity, transparency and accountability requirements?

Is it clear how the assessment of applications will be managed?

Deciding *

Is it clear who makes the decision about who will receive the grants and when and by what method those decisions will be made?


Notifying successful applicants *

Is there a formal process in place for advising and announcing successful applicants? Does the process take into account the needs and sensitivities of all stakeholders?

Notifying unsuccessful applicants *

Is there a formal process in place for advising unsuccessful applicants of the outcome of their application? Does the process provide opportunities for capacity building and relationship-building with unsuccessful appliants? Does the process operate fairly, respectfully and transparently?


Defining terms *

Is the language, style, length and complexity of the contract, agreement or letter of understanding proportionate to the size and risk level of the grant, as well as the capacities and capabilities of the grantees?

Is its content consistent with all other aspects of the grants management system and documentation?

Are standard and non-variable requirements clear and is it obvious why each of these clauses has been included?

Is it clear who has authority to negotiate terms, sign the document?

Making payments *

Is it clear when and how payments will be made including frequency, milestones and incentive arrangements?


Monitoring grantee outcomes *

Are your grant monitoring and reporting processes:

A. proportionate to the level of funds, the capability and the assessed level of risk of grant recipients?
B. practical, in that they can realistically be implemented? C. effective in checking that the program and projects are on track and progressing towards outcomes?

Managing performance and varying grants

Do you have a performance issues policy in place which articulates your overall approach to performance management? Does your organisation use risk analysis to anticipate potential performance issues and possible early intervention (mitigation) strategies? Is there a clear process in place to handle variations to the contract, agreement or letter of understanding where these are required or requested? Is it clear who will negotiate contract variations, how and with whom? Is it clear how and to what extent the terms of contracts, agreements and letters of understanding may be varied? Is it clear what the triggers for a variation would be? Is it clear who would be responsible for approving such variations?

Close the Grant

Reviewing financial acquittals and closing grants *

Is there a clear process in place for acquittal of funds and outcomes reporting? Does your acquittal policy consider grantee’s individual risks and capabilities in determining the frequency and evidentiary requirements of financial and outcomes reporting?

Reviewing funded projects *

Is there a process in place for reviewing individual projects funded through this grants program, as measured against the previously agreed outputs and outcomes? Is it clear who will be responsible for carying out the review, whether the grantmaker or the grant recipient?

Evaluate and Share

Evaluating the program *

Is it clear how the efficiency and effectiveness of the program as a whole will be evaluated? Is is clear who would carry out the evaluation?

Sharing the lessons learnt *

Have opportunities and obligations for dissemination of lessons derived from this grants program been considered? is it clear what is planned regarding dissemination (including publication) of the program evaluation or other lessons learnt? Have all relevant stakeholders been included and informed, where required or desirable?

Required if you would like to receive your answers in an email and have a SmartyGrants staff member contact you with a follow up.