6 tips to educate internal stakeholders about F&A

Expert Insight

6 tips to educate internal stakeholders about F&A

Chief researcher officers (CROs) and their teams have primarily focused their facilities and administrative (F&A) funding education efforts on external stakeholders, but many internal stakeholders still do not understand F&A. As a result, faculty frequently request F&A waivers, deans grant costly F&A exemptions, and university leaders propose problematic changes to F&A policies.

While CROs often use presentations to try to educate internal stakeholders, this is rarely effective because they are overly technical and one-size-fits-all. To improve internal understanding, CROs should adjust their introductory F&A presentation to be more accessible and customize it for different internal audiences like faculty, staff, or the board of trustees.

EAB has compiled six tips to help CROs build a presentation for internal stakeholders who need to know about F&A—but don’t have the background.

1. Start with the basics

Do not assume that your audience has any prior knowledge about F&A. While most faculty and staff do have a general sense of what F&A is, they usually don’t know how the funds are used. Starting with a basic introduction allows you to establish a clean slate and get the audience on the same page before moving forward.

2. Don’t overwhelm the audience with too much information

When giving internal presentations, CROs and their teams often try to cover too much ground in a short period of time. This can frustrate the audience and reduce the amount of information they retain. Instead, start with the most critical information for internal stakeholders—the difference between direct costs and F&A costs, how F&A funds get used, and why F&A is critical for university research. Then dedicate time to helping the audience truly learn the content and provide other opportunities and resources for them to broaden and/or deepen their understanding (e.g., follow-up sessions, online training).

3. Organize presentations around common questions and misperceptions

Consider building your presentation around common questions or misperceptions about F&A, especially those that you hear on your campus. This provides you with a simple structure and framework for your presentation and way to prioritize the topics to cover.

Below are six of the most important F&A myths to address during internal presentations.

4. Match your level of specificity and detail to the intended audience

Tailor the depth and specificity of your presentation based on the needs and priorities of your audience. For example, if you are presenting to staff members who manage grant finances daily, then include details about the calculation process, cost pools, and/or space surveys. In contrast, if you are presenting to board of trustees, include a high-level overview of F&A and focus on the benefits to the institution rather than sharing details about cost pools and space surveys.

5. Leave plenty of time for Q&A

Attendees derive the most value from asking questions about F&A at internal presentations. This also can help you identify F&A topics or misperceptions to address in future presentations.

6. Don’t start from scratch

See our F&A Communications Toolkit to download nine customizable template slides designed to introduce an executive-level audience to F&A.