Federal grant funding is still a viable funding stream and often, one of significant amounts. Government agencies continually seek qualified, competent community partners that enable them to fulfill their funding goals. Yet, the process of pursing federal government grants has a bad reputation. If you’ve ever remotely considered submitting a federal grant, read on.
The process can actually be broken into two components, each one with its own set of requirements: 1) registration with grants.gov and 2) preparation of the actual grant application.
The registration process on grants.gov can take some time and should begin well in advance of the actual grant deadline. I’ll be honest, the process can be cumbersome but there is no way around it. Be prepared with legal, financial and historical information on your organization and have patience.
The process begins at grants.gov where you will register your organization and create an account. You will need a DUNS number, register as the Authorized Organization Representative and register with SAM, the Federal government accounting system.
The process can take a few days up to a few weeks to complete and you must have your confirmation in order to proceed to the grant application. Step by step instructions are listed at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/organization-registration.
The actual grant application packet can be seventy pages or more, including all the guidelines and the actual funding opportunity announcement. The funding opportunity announcement (FOA) includes all the criteria and expectations you must meet for the grant and provides opportunities to answer the same questions in a variety of ways. Know your program inside and out – and be prepared to state your answers in quantitative and qualitative statements. While each grant application is different, know that the entire process from beginning the application process to submission, can easily take 100 hours or more.
Once you’ve completed the application and filled out all the necessary documents (SF424, etc.,) the final step is to submit your application along with all its attachments, online. If you’re not tech savvy, allow someone in your office who is, to assist you. And remember, experienced grant writers submit the application early!
A couple of other significant considerations before you decide to pursue federal grants: Can your organization fund the program you are submitting for 6 – 9 months? It may take this long for the actual funding from the grant to take place. Until it does, your organization must be in a position to pay the grant expenses until you start receiving grant disbursements.
Secondly, does your organization have the capacity to manage the grant? This entails the ability to track the program deliverables (outcome measurement and evaluation); the financial and operational ability to track all program expenses, and the ability to determine the program’s impact on your clients and the community you serve. Plainly stated, will you be able to deliver what you proposed in your grant application? Federal grant reports take a lot of time; be prepared to make them a priority and always, submit them on time.
If you answered yes to the considerations above, you may be ready to pursue a federal grant. If you’d like to talk about it, call me. I can offer guidance and technical assistance.