Writing a Grant Acquittal Report
What is an Acquittal Report?
If you are delivering a creative project with grant funding, you will be asked to submit an acquittal report soon after the finish date of your project.
An acquittal report will normally ask you to demonstrate:
- What you did during the project
- What the key achievements or results of your project were
- Whether any of your plans changed since your initial proposal
- What broader impact your project had or continues to have
- How you spent the grant money.
Get Prepared Before you Start
Read the acquittal requirements when you get the grant and before you start your project. It is important to understand what kinds of information the funding body will want to report on. Once you’ve done this, you can set up systems to make sure you collect information and documentation about your project along the way to use in your report.
What Information Does an Acquittal Report Normally Include?
For most grant acquittals, you will be required to keep a detailed budget that accounts for how all your allocated funds were spent. If you received a higher level of funding, you might also need to keep accounts and have them certified by an accountant. It’s always a good idea to check with the grant officer to understand their expectations.
Statistics can be a good way to give a quick and powerful snapshot of the impact and results of your project. It is often a good idea to collect statistics around things like attendance numbers, publications sold and the number of local artists engaged in your project.
Statistics can only tell one side of the story. Think about how you might capture more ephemeral and personal things like audience response, artistic development or impact on participants. Quotes and case studies can be a great way to do this.
Don’t forget, a picture is worth a thousand words! Make sure you get good images (and video if you can) that capture your project. Good documentation is also useful to have when applying for future funding.
Who Reads this Report?
Your acquittal report will be read, in the first instance, by the grants officer responsible for administering your grant. Other staff members in the granting organisation may also read your report, especially if it validates key areas of the organisation’s strategy or area of focus. The materials you provide in the acquittal may also be useful for publicity, or reports that the funding organisation may prepare (for example, annual reports).
Answering the Acquittal Questions
A great place to begin your acquittal is to look at what you said you were going to do in your initial (and successful!) application. You may even cut and paste these initial proposal ideas and then modify them to fit the specific question asked.
You now have the benefit of actually having done the project and so you can provide a much greater detail under the headings adapted from the original proposal. Below are some common questions that you might answer as part of an acquittal report:
“What were outcomes and achievements of your project?”
This is the place to show off! What were the highlights and key achievements of your project? This section can also be a great place to use statistics to demonstrate impact.
“What have you learned or what would you do differently?”
This is an opportunity to reflect on your project, for example:
- Audience reactions
- Opportunities and ideas for further work
- What worked and, with the benefit of hindsight, what else would work in the future.
Be positive and celebrate the successful delivery of your project through a tone that reflects how well things worked. If some things were challenging you can mention this too, and focus on how they were an opportunity for learning and development.
“How did the project change (if at all), from your initial proposal and plan?”
Don’t worry if your project diverged from its original plan. This is a normal part of conceiving, executing and reflecting on projects. Describe any differences, making sure that there is a sense of equivalence in the proposed and then actual course of events.
Important Note: If your project changed drastically from the original application, you must contact your grants officer, or equivalent authority around the time that the change occurred. This is normally a grant requirement. You and the grant officer can discuss your situation and look at possible solutions.
“How did you acknowledge the funding body?”
Some acquittal reports will require you to provide proof of where and how you acknowledged the funding body. Common ways you might do this is to use their logo on marketing material for your project (make sure you get their approval before publication) or recognise them in the speech at the start of your event.
The granting organisation and/or the grants officer may be able to provide previous acquittal reports that are available for you to read as examples of best practice.