Budget cuts and community needs are often in conflict these days, but grants can help an agency garner the funds it needs for projects and resources. The Internet has streamlined much of the time and effort it once took to apply for and obtain a grant. Most grant websites now have online information and application forms. In some cases, such streamlining has even resulted in quicker notice of whether a grant application has been approved.
As an example, over the past decade, the Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded more than $26 billion, representing about 52,000 funding awards.
While the efficiency of the process of application has become streamlined, the competition has become even fiercer over recent years because funds are limited, so even though many agencies, communities and regions have worthwhile project proposals, only some can be funded. The same is true with many other public and private sources of grant funds.
So it is necessary that every step of the grant application and grant management process be noted, planned and carried out in a way that will assure the success of a grant application, and any likelihood for future grants from that same grantor.
This guide is a way to become acquainted with many of the aspects of grants. It can assist with learning the terminology, process and considerations needed to make a grant application pull away from the competition and increase the likelihood of being awarded.
OVERVIEW OF THE GRANT PROCESS
For most grants, the main steps in the process are relatively straightforward and uniform. The start is finding an appropriate grantor whose objectives match the objectives of the project. Next comes the grant application, then a waiting period during which the application is reviewed, the notice of award, the post-award process that details how the project must be implemented, and finally, the close of the grant after the grant period has ended.
Grantors announce the availability of money for projects. It is then the applicant’s job to determine whether the project in mind actually meets the objectives and requirements of the grantor. That can take a great deal of research and study because, regardless of the merit of the project, if it does not match what the grantor desires to fund, the grant will not be awarded. Submitting an application for a grant without determining eligibility for that grant is a waste of time and resources for both the applicant and the grantor. And, parenthetically, such a lackadaisical attitude stays in the grantor’s perception of the agency and the person submitting such an application, perhaps jeopardizing future applications for grants with that grantor.
If the project is a match to what the grantor will fund, the application must be submitted according to each and every requirement the grantor prescribes. The application form may be a simple fill-in-the-blanks style, or it may be more complex, sometimes seeking written explanations of certain points or details beyond the basics. Those extra comments and details may sell a project to the grantor so care must be taken to follow the grantor’s format and requirements, and to use the best of language, grammar and writing style appropriate to the grant. In essence, to the grantor’s eyes, the application is the agency’s representative. Just as dress, grooming and speech make a first impression in human relations, a grant application and its supporting documents and information make a first impression on a grantor. Be sure everything is reasonable, understandable, measurable and achievable.
Once the notice of award of the grant is received, there may be additional steps necessary before the money comes and before the project can get under way. The award’s terms or the grantor’s website will contain these additional requirements.
At the end of the grant project, there is usually a requirement of evaluation, closeout of all documents, and an accounting—all of which must meet certain time deadlines to comply with the grant’s terms and to end the grant period.
TYPES OF GRANTS
FORMULA GRANTS require an application, but they are not competitive in the true sense of the word. If the project meets the terms of the grant and the applicant fulfills the requirements, the funds are allocated among the selected, eligible recipients and a formula is used to determine the grant award amount. Thus the actual funding to each recipient may vary.
CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED AWARDS are sometimes nicknamed “earmarks.” They direct funds to certain projects or give specific exemption from some tax or fee. This is an allocation of approved spending for a specific purpose.
DISCRETIONARY GRANTS are usually competitive. That means that applicants are evaluated for their eligibility for the grant. Those meeting the first cut will be reviewed and judged by a panel of experts in the particular subject matter, then recipients will be selected.
COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS are usually discretionary awards that permit a transfer of money or something of value to accomplish a specific public purpose.
PRIVATE GRANTS are numerous, but nearly always concur with the particular objectives of the individual, group, organization, foundation, corporation or other entity issuing the grant. Such grants may be small in amount, yet helpful to a particular need, but other private grants offer substantial funds for projects and needs. Research is needed to explore the wide variety of private sector local, regional, State, national and international grants available. An Internet search engine can be beneficial in finding such private sources of funds.
STARTING POINTS IN GRANTS RESEARCH
There are billions of grant dollars available in Federal, State and local public and private grant sources. Knowing how to research those grants is a necessary skill. A good introductory resource is the Bureau of Justice Administration’s Grant Writing and Management Academy https://www.bja.gov/GWMA for assistance with grant applications, project planning, grant management and administration, and evaluation of grant-funded projects.
For most grants, announcements are often made at the start of the calendar year and a deadline set for the application process. The primary Internet resource for Federal grants is www.Grants.gov, the website that assists with finding Federal grant opportunities, registration, applications, resources and help. It lists the competitive, discretionary grants available for Federal grant-making departments and agencies.
In addition, the Office of Justice Programs’ website at www.ojp.gov/funding/funding.htm describes funding opportunities and past grant awards. It also gives a financial guide, and offers tips on grant assistance, management, forms and other aspects of grant applications.
Additional help can be obtained on the websites for the Bureau of Justice Assistance https://www.bja.gov/funding.aspx), Bureau of Justice Statistics (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov), and the National Institute of Justice (http://www.nij.gov/funding/welcome.htm).
The Grantsmanship Center at www.tgci.com lists State sources, with links to various websites. It offers grants training programs such as its instructional course that covers planning projects, locating funding, and the writing of proposals.
While first thinking of government grants as the source for grant money, it is also wise to consider the private sector’s grants and monies available from non-profit groups. Some such sources finance major projects while others, such as grants from a local service club, tribe or a regional corporation may be more modest. Even mini grants from business and private sources can be helpful for some projects, and usually have a simple application process. County and local foundations, service clubs and other lesser-known sources may be appropriate grantors for a project and there will likely be far less competition for such grants. For help with grants in the private sector, use www.FoundationCenter.org. It also lists seminars about private sector grants, and information about Requests for Proposals and other non-governmental grant sources. The Foundation Center has a subscription newsletter. Private foundations are diverse in their projects and the amount of funding they give, but foundations can be a viable funding source for a proposed project.
The Philanthropy News Digest weekly www.foundationcenter.org/pnd or the RFP Bulletin www.foundationcenter.org/pnd/rfp has links to grantors or ideas for proposals or future project proposals.
International, national, regional or local corporations often have policies for philanthropic activities and support. Most such corporate giving offers direct, discretionary grants, and tends to be faster in the application and approval process than government sources of grants.
Also of help are Internet search engines. Enter such key words as “government grants,” “equipment grants,” “private grants,” “grants clearinghouses,” etc. Interestingly, search engines often have information about State, local, tribal or private grants not yet listed on other clearinghouse websites.
What and how much a grantor funds can be researched on www.GuideStar.org, a website that also displays the tax returns for non-profit organizations. It is a free service, but requires registration.
THE PROPOSAL AND APPLICATION
Be certain the grant matches the project. Examine the application or proposal requirements and deadlines. The application is the formal request for the funds for the project and must be written or submitted online for nearly all grants, public or private. Each grantor sets its own requirements pertaining to why the money is needed, how the money will be used for a particular project, how the grant will be managed, and how the project will be evaluated and ended.
The application must sell the idea of the project or else the reviewer will not consider the project. It is vital to address the need, problem or project being proposed in terms of its planning, organization, worth and timeliness. Describe the proposed management of the project and the grant money that will fund it, showing how the funds will be spent and how the project will be brought to completion within the required schedule. Remember that grant reviewers may not be acquainted with the project or law enforcement, so wording must be clear and succinct, stating the reasons for the project and its objectives.
State the nature of the project, its anticipated outcomes in meeting a need or needs, how the project will be organized and run, how the project will be evaluated and what the initial or preliminary budget will be.
Include comments and evidence of support from individuals or groups that support the project, or that will benefit from the project. The grantor may even require such endorsements, but even if not required, they should be included, if the application permits. Agreements for use of technical or professional assistance from the community or others, use of equipment, use of physical space, and other such contributions to the project should (and sometimes must) be in writing and included. An advisory committee’s input or meetings with the community to be served should also be included to show exploration of the merits of the project, and the development of strategies to carry out the project.
The writer of the proposal needs to be someone thoroughly familiar with the project and the grant requirements, but also someone who can follow the grantor’s instructors, communicate well, and explain the details, financial needs and budget of the project. The writer is not necessarily the future grant manager, but the writer needs to learn about the project and have ample time to write a viable and effective proposal and application. The original writer should proofread the application and supporting documents, of course, but others should also proofread everything for clarity, completeness and flow. It is helpful to have someone completely unfamiliar with the process and the project read, and review, the application. Any deficiencies or unclear portions need to be corrected because it’s possible the reviewer will also be someone unfamiliar with the project.
Because so many grants vary in the amount appropriated or available each year, it is essential to plan ahead in budgeting. Reviewing past appropriations may be helpful, but the nature of the project and the money available for it will determine much of how the preliminary budget will be organized.
The budget must be specific and realistic, giving as accurate as possible the estimated costs. Major headings, subheadings and a narrative about the budget should be included if appropriate to the grantor’s forms. Justify all expenses not only for personnel, but all the details and components of the project—space, utilities, supplies, equipment, insurance, leases, testing and evaluation, accounting, travel, new construction, professional and/or technical consultations, janitorial service, security service, and whatever else may be required to make the project a reality and to carry it through its steps or to its completion.
Beyond the actual and anticipated costs of a project lies the requirement of most grantors that the applicant must show how the project will be funded or sustained after the grant period expires.
Know the project, its direction and its potential for future continuing and functioning. Clarify these areas and describe the strategies and tactics needed to plan, execute and evaluate the project. Everything must be clear, logical and detailed to show the project can work and that its execution will meet the need for which it was implemented in the first place. Thoroughly describe the sequence of timelines, activities and measurement / evaluation.
Assemble a master list of grantors likely to fund the project, what must be included in the grant application (e.g. executive summary, statement of need, statement of introduction, project description, work plan, budget, memorandum of agreement, evaluation). If appropriate, partner with other agencies to give a regional aspect to the project because there has been a recent trend of grantors preferring projects that go beyond the originating agency to other agencies, thus benefiting more communities.
Statistics to prove contentions might be found at www.Fedstats.gov. Its census and other data can be helpful for discussing the present situation, or for showing comparisons or contrasts. The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder at www.factfinder2.census.gov also has demographic information. Enter a zip code for “Fact Finder” information about people and their communities—something that might be needed in the grant application’s needs statement. When using national statistics, bring them down to the local level.
If the project involves community service and jobs, use the Bureau of Labor Statistics references at www.bls.gov.
Remember that a reviewer might not read from the beginning of the proposal. Write an effective executive summary or introductory synopsis so the project’s activity is clear. Hone the writing to the best presentation of the essence by using clear and direct language.
A Dun and Bradstreet D&B DUNS® number (www.DNB.com) and Employer Identification Number (www.irs.gov) are usually required for most grants, and there may be a need to register with the grantor before an application is actually submitted for consideration. There are usually deadlines for such registrations. Complete the required forms in the application package, correct any errors, misstatements or unclear portions, and submit the application and its supporting documents before their deadlines.
The Internet is a prime source for learning grantors’ priorities. Learn what was funded in the past, and what is now being spotlighted for the current year. Look for specific use restrictions or geographic restrictions that might limit the grant to a particular purchase or region. If the project is not within such parameters or geographical boundaries, it won’t be considered, regardless of its merit. Open the “frequently asked questions” section of the grantors’ websites and read the answers for a better understanding of the grant, grantor and conditions. Contact grantors by e-mail, phone or in person if there are questions not addressed on the website. Some grantors host informational seminars, worth attending for even more information and insight into the grantor’s preferences.
The application’s Statement of Introduction describes the credibility and goals of the agency and should include its mission, goals, major accomplishments, programs, endorsements, awards, other grants and projects, and partner agencies.
The Needs Statement is written in the grantor’s required style and format, and focuses on the need for the project, not the lack of money to do it. Grantors want to know why their money should be given to one project, and not another. Logically and credibly discuss community needs, the people to be served by the project, and the statistics, anecdotes, surveys, quotes, or other sources that reinforce the need for the project.
The Budget specifically and completely describes facts, figures, and what the project will do. A grant is a contract and the grantor’s expectations must be accomplished. The contract contains the promises being made, procurement rules for purchases, employment/personnel, equal opportunity law compliance, the terms of the agreement, and the obligations of multiple agencies and the lead agency if it is a collaborative project. And, because subcontracts or short-term contracts might be necessary in a particular project, a Memorandum of Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding may be needed to explain the work to be done and that the money will be spent prudently and honestly. With a collaborative project involving multiple agencies, the grantor usually requires all agencies working under one contract, with one agency as the leader. Any misuse of the grantor’s money, however innocent, must be paid back if spent wrongly, and there may be criminal penalties for mismanagement.
Use www.IndependentSector.org for the value, in money, of any non-monetary help used in the project.
A grantor may allow a modification of the contract, but it is better if the grant manager or lead agency monitors everything closely so that problems are identified and solved before they escalate into major problems. This is another reason why good record keeping of grant money is essential. Keep track of records, audits and documents pertaining to compliance, and keep files of the application guidelines, grant proposal, contract, subcontracts, amendments, reports, objectives already met, objectives yet to be accomplished, financial records, major receipts, procurement process guidelines, bid solicitations, and correspondence written or e-mailed that confirms phone conversations. Grantors can, and do, audit at any time.
The Project Plan is usually the goals, plans and objectives written in narrative, rubric (grid-based), or logic models (super charged rubric). Goals are broad and non-measurable; objectives are specific and measurable. Objectives can be outcome-based or process-based. Outcome-based objectives tell how conditions will improve. Outcome-based objectives usually use such verbs as purchase, serve, obtain, publish, develop, assess, raise money, survey, build, hire, implement, create, refurbish, coordinate, and provide. Process-based objectives usually set a time period within which something will be done, what will be implemented and how those implementations will be managed. At www.ExpectMore.gov, look for rating tools that show performing and non-performing Federal programs and what is being phased out. The Program Assessment at the website shows programs, ratings and improvement plans to delete or modify programs. Federal grantors usually expect outcome-based performance. Where appropriate, show the sustainability of the project—how it will grow and function on its own after the grant.
The application must pass muster to move up through the chain toward eventual approval. The review usually begins with a simple application review, but it may also progress to evaluations of the project, the budget or peer review. If the application successfully makes it through the steps of review, the final evaluation will be done and a notice of award—or not—will be given.
The process can sometimes be done quickly, especially with local or private grantors, but can take at least a month or more before notice of award is received.
An approval or rejection should be received within the grantor’s set schedule. Once the award is received, a point of contact must usually be designated by the grantee, including someone for the financial side of the grant. Such a designation will have to be done within the grantor’s deadline. There may also be special conditions or terms that require compliance. A schedule of reporting will likely be set, depending on the grantor’s preference (annual, semi-annual, quarterly, monthly). Progress reports and financial status reports might also be required.
The success or failure of a project is of primary concern to the grantor. Measure outcomes and verify completion of objectives with a process that is formative, and describe the outcomes with a summative design.
Instead of allowing self-evaluation, the grantor might specify how to evaluate (or may offer a session on how evaluations should be done), or may ask that an independent consultant evaluate the project.
The Kellogg Foundation at www.wkkf.org has a handbook about approaches used in evaluation. (The foundation is also a source of grants, particularly those projects that help children.)
The evaluation must be concise and exact, even with the more difficult process-based grants. In those, emphasize such things as reports to the grantor, site visits, board of directors’ actions toward effectiveness, efforts of the project coordinator, or client satisfaction surveys. Even if certain outcomes cannot be proven or shown, the grantor still wants to know that evaluation has occurred.
LEARNING FROM GRANT SUCCESSES AND FAILURES
Landing a grant—or not—lets loose a flood of emotion, most likely an excited shout or a groan of disappointment, depending on success or failure.
Grant money might seem limitless, but it is not. Some well-written applications are denied just because there is not enough money to go around to deserving projects, but, more likely, the success or failure of a grant application is a reflection of the competence and care of the applicant. The grantor wants certain information, some of it quite specific. Failing to provide that information lowers or eliminates the chances of getting that grant.
Know the details of the grant’s terms and the application requirements. Know the grantor’s categories and priorities, its philosophy statements, who and what got funded in the past, the geographic area covered by the grantor’s money, and the key people in the chain of applying for a grant. Be certain the project matches what the grantor funds. Grantors might discuss, by phone or e-mail, the feasibility of the project, but won’t say whether the project will be funded until the formal application is reviewed.
Follow all the grant guidelines, due dates and directions. Apply to one contact person, for one grant, for one program because grantors will reject “fishing expeditions” in which a multitude of projects are proposed in the hopes of getting the grantor to choose one and fund it.
Provide all the correct contact information of the applicant—the right name, address, phone number, e-mail address and FAX number. Don’t assume that everything will be by e-mail. Some grantors still use formal letters or may have preferences for certain modes of communication at certain times. Follow the grantor’s requirements.
Keep the application neat, accurate and realistic. Cost effectiveness can be shown by how the grant money will generate money, or sustain and enhance a program. For a new program, show how the grant will start and develop the project that will meet a need or enhance a current program.
If appropriate, mention other grants the agency has received and the successes of other projects. A good track record can go a long way toward helping the current grant application succeed. If appropriate, describe the agency’s long-range, strategic planning and discuss how frequently it is examined and updated. That “blueprint” shows the grantor the plan for the best uses and evaluations of time, personnel and money.
If the application is denied, determine why. Learn from mistakes. Ask if there is an opportunity to apply later, in another grant cycle, and start the homework to correct or modify what was done that success can come in a later application.
Make the application stand out from the crowd. It must be professional and correct. There are no substitutes for preparation and hard work, both of which are needed to make a grant application succeed.
INTERNET RESOURCES FOR GRANT RESEARCH
The following websites assist with searching for a grant. Because grantors sometimes change their preferences or strategies, keep current with the grantors that seem to match a project.
Many grants, these days, go to preparedness and response, regardless of geographical location, and projects that benefit a wide geographic area. Equipment, exercises and training are funded, along with counter-terrorism preparedness.
The website is probably the best starting point for most Federal grants and grant research, and assists with many aspects of grants including determining eligibility, downloads, links, and grant management guidelines. Register for the newsletter about new grant opportunities.
Grants from The Department of Homeland Security focus on preparedness and response. Most fund preparedness planning, equipment acquisition, training, practice exercises, management and administration. The programs include the State Homeland Security Program, Emergency Management Performance, Emergency Operations Centers, the Urban Areas Security Initiative, Metropolitan Medical Response System, Intercity Bus Security, Intercity Passenger Rail Security, Non-Profit Organization Security, Freight Rail Security, Transit Security, Tribal Homeland Security, and the Citizen Corps Program. The website also links to Federal Emergency Management Agency-directed projects for port security, critical infrastructure protection, regional / local mass-transit system security, and equipment and training for first responders.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s grants focus on disaster-specific situations, preparedness, threat and hazard identification, and risk assessment, but grants are also available for environmental and historical preservation, some non-disaster programs, and repetitive flood claims programs.
The Transportation Security Administration has, as its primary grant focus, projects that enhance the safety and security of transportation, including intercity buses, transit systems, and ferry services.
Updated almost daily, this website offers access to a database of Federal grant programs available to State and local governments, recognized tribal governments, domestic public and quasi-public groups, plus private profit and non-profit groups and individuals. The home page links to a user’s guide, assistance programs, and other, featured links to such websites as www.USA.gov, www.Grants.gov, www.FedBizOpps.gov and the Federal asset sales listed at www.USA.gov. The website also describes the types of assistance available, how to apply, how to write grant proposals, the top 10 percent program list, new programs, and a full index. Formula grants, project grants, direct payments for specified use, direct payments with unrestricted use, direct loans, insurance, sale / exchange / donation of property and goods, use of property / facilities / equipment, and training categories are all included on the website.
This website is helpful if the safe transportation of hazardous material is key to the project. Grant programs may provide the financial and/or technical assistance needed to enhance State, territorial, tribal or local HAZMAT emergency planning and training. There are also links to conferences, training seminars and meetings offered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program funds projects for rural area facilities, equipment, housing, utilities and businesses. Program loans, loan guarantees and grants are available. The website has links to financial assistance in the form of business loans and grants, cooperative grants, community facilities loans and grants, telecommunications loans and grants, and community development programs.
The Office of Justice Programs (U.S. Department of Justice) website contains solicitations and grant applications for a variety of projects including training, crime prevention, and emergency management. There are also links to past funded projects, which may benefit research into what projects are being sought, trends, and how to prepare a successful application and project.
The U.S. Government Printing Office disseminates official information from all three branches of the Federal government, and offers a comprehensive guide to those branches at its website. There is a useful link to a list of official Federal resources when information is needed about goals and purposes of the various Federal agencies.
The website provides an easy-to-use, alphabetical list of government benefits, grants and financial aid. While primarily citizen-oriented, the website can be of value when exploring grant opportunities and learning the nature of the assistance that might be available for a project.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website grants page contains information about available grants, funding announcements, explanations of HUD’s grant system, and a link to registration with www.Grants.gov.
The Health Resources and Services Administration agency website contains its grant policy statement, the details about current and archived grant opportunities, and a sign-up form for e-mail notification of new grants through the agency.
The organization offers information and assistance to police agencies, and has an extensive law enforcement grant database of Federal, State, local and corporate grant opportunities. It also hosts “Grants eNews,” a bulletin service.
The Justice Technology Information Network focuses primarily on technology information, but also has information about grants. The links can be helpful in researching available grant money, especially for equipment, testing, evaluation and technology improvements.
The Library of Congress website is a nearly complete reference tool for whatever data are needed for completion of a grant application. Not restricted to purely Federal information, the website’s resources can be a helpful addition to research resources.
This federation of organizations has the goal of improving public safety and the interoperability of communications. Its website is an excellent source of information on communications technologies and education.
This is a free resource guide to Federal and other government grants and loans. It fosters researching available grants by name, subject, applicant type, or agency. There are also tips about how to write successful grant applications.
The Public Safety Foundation of America provides grants for public safety activities and such functions as planning, equipment procurement, and training.
This ready reference, prepared by the University of California at Los Angeles, provides a website of alphabetical lists of foundations and organizations, many, if not most, of which provide grants for projects.
This website also provides a list of potential private sector grantors, and also gives information about grant writing courses and seminars.
This website has guidelines for researching available grants and for learning more about the process of applying for grants.
Funded by Congress, the National White Collar Crime Center focuses on the prevention, investigation and prosecution of high-tech crimes. Its website lists seminars and programs, some of which are grants related.
This website allows its members and authorized agents of organizations to request and receive technical products donated by TechSoup partners.
The Kresge Foundation offers grants for community projects.
This company is a leader in offering seminars for novice and experienced grant writers, and for grant managers. The website also contains information about hosting a grant writing seminar.
The Performance Institute specializes in transforming research and information into useable practices for government agencies. It offers a variety of subjects in its seminars, including some in grants management.
This organization supports the health and welfare of police horses and offers moderate grants to departments to foster care and use of police horses.
This group offers help, at the local level, for the education of K9 working dogs and their handlers.
501(c)(3). This Internal Revenue Service code section deals with “exempt” organizations (a public charity, private foundation or other non-profit organization benefited by exemption from Federal taxation). Such organizations establish a cause for which they raise money, incorporate as a non-profit group, and have tax-exempt status. Some give money to projects promoting particular causes. Donors to such a non-profit organization might have a tax write-off. While government agencies are not 501(c)(3) organizations, they can form an affiliated organization that earns tax-exempt status, which could possibly seek and obtain private foundation grants. Donors will not get a tax write-off if they give to a government agency (with the exception of a few rare units of government whose purpose is exclusively for the public good).
RFP, SGA, NOFA. Respectively, these initials stand for Requests For Proposals, Solicitation for Grant Application, and Notice Of Funding Availability—each of which describes who can apply for what. The grantor establishes who is eligible to apply, how the money can be used, deadlines, etc. The specific mandates in the RFP, SGA or NOFA must be followed. Some mandates even govern the style and size of print font or ink color. A grant application not complying with the mandates is rejected, and the opportunity for the grant is lost. Attention to detail is required because grantors use requirements as a means of making all the applications similar so no one applicant has an advantage by making his / her application look better than the others. Requirements also test whether the applicant is careful about following directions. An inaccurate application reveals the applicant’s inability to follow directions. Grantors will not trust an applicant who cannot follow directions. The grant application is the preliminary indication of cooperation and responsibility so first impressions count.
ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS. These are the direct and indirect costs of managing the grant project, which usually have a cap at a certain percentage of the grant.
ALLOWABLE COSTS. These are the expenditures permitted by law or other authority.
AMENDMENT. This is a modification that occurs when a grant application is changed or revised.
APPLICATION. This formal request for grant money may be done online with many grantors, using forms provided by the grantor. An application must follow all the requirements of the grantor, and be in the proper online or paper format applicable.
BLOCK GRANT. This the formula funding not allocated to a specific category. Most of these grants go to State or local governments.
CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE (CFDA). This publication and database lists all Federal grants and information about guidelines, application and other grant-related matters.
CHALLENGE GRANT. This grant requires that the grantee raise additional funds for the project. The grantee does not receive money until the challenge is met. There may be additional parameters or limitations such as preference for a certain geographic area, or certain deadlines set by the grantor. Meeting a challenge grant often leads to future grants because the applicant has demonstrated the ability to raise money.
COMMUNITY FOUNDATION. This is a foundation that assists a specific geographic area because its money comes primarily from local or regional donors. The foundation puts that money into a fund for long-term, charitable management of the money, under the directions of the donors, for local or regional projects. While community foundation grants do not usually yield a great deal of money, they can be excellent sources of smaller amounts of money, and will often “renew” in subsequent years if the grantee proves reliable and trustworthy.
GRANT CONSULTING. Working with grants may motivate some into becoming grants consultants. But beware of a deal in which the consultant is paid only if the grant is received. That is unethical because of the amount of work put into writing a grant application. Instead, the consultant should charge a base rate and, perhaps, a success bonus if the grant is awarded.
CORPORATE FOUNDATIONS AND GIVING PROGRAMS. Many corporations put a percentage of their profits into a charitable fund from which money may be spent within a specific geographic area in which the corporation has a major presence. These grants sometimes have special requirements such as advertising space or the corporate name on the vehicles of the grantee as a publicity payback for receiving a grant from the company—a small price to pay for the grant!
DISCRETIONARY FUNDS. Federal grant money sometimes moves from Federal to State, or Federal to local. Most of the Federal to State to local channeling is done through pass-through grants in which a State sub-awards the grant money through competitive RFPs. States usually have notification lists so grantees will know what grants are available and when. Formula grants are based on a national assessment of what a State needs in relation to its number of residents. Some funds are awarded at the discretion of a particular Federal or State agency, or, in the private sector, there may be private discretionary funds in which grants are distributed at the discretion of an organization’s trustees or a full board of directors.
FUNDING CYCLE. Grantors set defined annual, short or long cycles for the steps in a grant, including application review, decision-making and notification. RFP deadlines must be met for each of the steps in application, review, award and release of funds.
IN-KIND CONTRIBUTION. This is a non-cash contribution of something of value such as equipment, supplies, staff time, office space or other resources. (When tracking the work of volunteers in the agency, and in need of a dollar value for that in-kind contribution, use www.independentsector.org to learn the value of the volunteer’s work.)
LETTER OF INTENT, LETTER OF INQUIRY, PRELIMINARY PROPOSAL. When appropriate, a brief letter of intent or inquiry to the grantor can indicate interest in later submitting a full proposal. This approach focuses on where the grantee is today and where it wants to be in the future, stating its intent to the grantor in a letter of inquiry or intent to show the grant maker how financial help will move the grantee to the next goal.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING. This is an agreement about the roles and timelines of all the project’s partner-participants.
ONGOING SUPPORT, GENERAL SUPPORT. This represents the funding covering such things as day-to-day expenses, salaries, utilities, office supplies, rent / mortgage payments, insurance, and accounting costs. Although not a very common type of grant, it does exist. The grantor looks at the overall impact and wants to evaluate how a proposed project will serve the greater good.
SET-ASIDE. This is the fund reserved by the grantor for a specific purpose.
UNALLOWABLE COST. This is a cost not allowed because it conflicts with the grant’s cost principles or other conditions.
Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., J.D., writes in the fields of law enforcement and security. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.