RESOURCE SERIES October 15, 2010
Federal Grant Management
Progress Report Writing: Q&A with Ms. Tabassum Siraj, ORR Program Analyst
This week, Project SOAR’s Program Officer Anne Goforth
interviewed ORR’s Program Analyst responsible for overseeing the
progress report periods
Ethnic Community Self-Help program grants, Tabassum Siraj, to
are quarterly, semi-
find out how organizations can improve their progress reporting.
annual or annual.
Please find a summary of our discussion below.
Office of Refugee
When you review a grantee’s report, what are the top 5
qualities you look for?
reports are semi-annual.
The top 5 qualities desired in any report have to do with content. A
good report is:
Semi-annual reports are
1) Complete in that it discusses all aspects of grant project
due 30 days after the
that were to be covered in the reporting period. Report
reporting period ends.
on your “SMART” objectives and indicators.
Thus, reports for ethnic
2) Concrete in that it offers written evidence to back up
self-help grants with
claims about clientele, services, attendance, impact,
reporting periods ending
9/30 are due 10/30. Final
3) Concise in that it doesn’t use the first person or tell long
reports are due within 90
stories about why something didn’t happen.
days after completion of
4) Clear in that it reports the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,”
the grant. Thus, for a
“why,” and “how” of project activities. Don’t leave the
project that ended on
reader with questions.
09/29, the reports must
5) Contextual in that it uses the proposal and/or work plan as
be received by 12/31.
a basis for the report. If you’ve changed an activity,
ORR grantees must now
utilize the Standard Form
What is the optimum number of pages for semi-annual and
– Performance Progress
final progress reports?
Report, which may be
You should always consult your award’s reporting requirements
and report template (if provided) for page limit guidelines, and
respect them. If there are no page restrictions, a good rule of
thumb for semi-annual reports is 5-7 pages of narrative, plus
attachments. Final reports can be longer, up to 12 pages.
Confirm your grant’s
Which attachments do you recommend?
reporting requirements by
A chart outlining what was expected/ scheduled during the
consulting your award
reporting period and what was achieved
document or, for ORR,
Electronic photographs (jpg files only, please)
the Funding Opportunity
Press coverage of the project (electronic is preferred over
Announcement in the
section titled ACF-OGM
Electronic versions of documents produced through a
project, such as informational flyers and handbooks
What are the top ‘Do’s’ for reports?
For final reports, the
financial and the narrative
Meet the submission deadline: your program officer should
reports should cover the
not have to track down a missing report. If there is a reason
entire three-year project
for a delay, call ahead or email.
period. One final SF269
Include the cover sheet.
must be filed showing
Insert page numbers and use a header to identify your
expenses for three years
organization and grant number: It’s hard to make sense of
if that is the length of the
things when pages aren’t numbered or if a grantee with more
than one project funded by ORR doesn’t specify which project
is being discussed.
Likewise, the final
Pay attention to grammar and usage: poorly written reports
narrative report must
raise questions of staff competence. Use spell check.
Identify the organization and refer to specific personnel such
as the volunteer coordinator or program manager. Avoid
problems or challenges,
phrases such as “we did...”
how those challenges
Highlight your successes, such as funds raised, volunteers
were addressed and if
recruited, special outreach events, community awards
there were any salient
earned, and other special achievements, both in the report,
and through emails to your program officer.
Share the report with your State Refugee Coordinator.
Use a professional tone.
Have someone (preferably someone experienced in report
and resources developed
writing) read over your work before submission.
during the three-year
period. The format for
What are the top ‘Don’ts’? reporting the final report
is the same as the semi-
Don’t use tabs, binders, and spirals: it’s hard to make PDFs annual reporting format.
and file reports electronically when there is plastic involved.
Don’t use slang or colloquialisms. Where to send ORR
Don’t use the first person. (No “I…” or “We…” It’s better to reports:
use the name of the project or organization.) Hard copy to:
Don’t be too chatty or informal. Mr. Ben Sharp, ACF
What are the consequences of a poor report? DHHS, ACF
Office of Grants
The consequences of an incomplete or ambiguous report include: Management
A request for more details in case of your failure to document 901 D Street, SW
specifics. Washington, DC 20447
On-site follow-up, such as an investigative visit.
Remember, continued funding from ORR is not guaranteed. Electronic copy to your
As with other discretionary grant, the Director has the final ORR program analyst.
say in whether a project merits continued funding. For Ethnic Community
Self-Help grants: Ms.
Thanks very much to Ms. Siraj for her insight! Follow her advice Tabassum Siraj,
for any grant reporting, not only ORR, and impress your funder. firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you receive this as a forward? Receive weekly tip sheets, announcements, and information on
relevant funding, training, & other resources by joining our listserv. This resource was produced by the
International Rescue Committee through Cooperative Agreement #90RB0033, with the Office of
Refugee Resettlement. You may distribute with the citation: Reprinted with permission of the IRC.