by Mandy Pearce
Left over grant dollars.
Good problem to have, right?
It is for most of us, but I have worked with and for people who had less than ethical intentions for left-over grant dollars.
As a professional development consultant, “If I have money left over can I use it on whatever I want?”, is a question I get asked a little more often than you might think. This is my response when I am asked.
If you have money left over from a grant, fabulous! It shows the donor that you have been fiscally responsible with the money they have awarded you. It shows that you have leveraged your resources, found sales, shopped around, solicited in-kind contributions and been a good steward of their gift.
As you work to build a relationship with the donor, you should be able to contact them and explain the situation. You can reach out when you see that you are going to have a surplus if it is in the middle of the project/program or at the end when you realize you have money left over. You should ask for permission to do one of several things:
◦Transfer the left over funds to another line item where you could use those additional dollars. Sometime this will require you to fill out additional paperwork so the donor has a record of how the funds were spent and that they gave you their permission.
◦Add a line item or two to the project that you realize you need/want/could benefit from thanks to the surplus.
◦Use the funds towards another project/program/general ops/overhead if that aligns with the funders priorities and they approve such expenses.
This is NOT one of those times where you want to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. On occasion, a donor will require their money back. In that case, you don’t want to have spent the money before getting permission to use it in a way that is not outlined in your grant proposal.
As always, build relationships with your donors and these conversations will go much more smoothly.