Grant Acquisition Process

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Once you’ve identified which agencies serve your client population and share an interest in the problem you want to address, then you are ready to begin searching for specific funding opportunities. All Federal grant opportunities must be announced to the public through the Federal Register. Many of these grants opportunities will also be featured on Grants.gov. The grant announcements will contain information about who is eligible, how to apply, the grant requirements, the proposal content requirements, due dates, and how to contact the agency for additional information.

Examine the grant announcement and note the elements you will be responsible for.

Though different agencies and programs have different grant announcement and solicitation formats, many typically include at least the following elements:

  • Agency name - identifies the department, agency, and program putting out the notice and the purpose of the notice
  • CFDA number - the identifying number in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
  • Summary - gives an overview of the program and services being sought by the solicitation
  • Dates - identifies the deadline for submitting an application (response to the notice) and describes the methods of submitting the application
  • Instructions for submittal – identifies the process for submittal and delivery of application
  • Supplementary Information - including background, eligibility, evaluation criteria, and deliverable requirements. 
Click to open interactivity Check the Code of Federal Regulations.

Check the Code of Federal Regulations.

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Research the funding agency’s grant making history.

It may also be helpful to research the funding agency’s grant history to help you understand the agency’s interests and what kinds of programs and which organizations have been funded in the past. This kind of information may be listed in “Announcements of Grants Awarded” available on Federal agency websites. While it may take some time to work through the process, you may be able to request copies of successful proposals from the program officer under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). All Federal agencies are required under the FOIA to disclose records, with some exceptions, that are requested in writing by any person. More information on the FOIA is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/04foia/. Each agency has a point of contact responsible for responding to such requests. The FOIA points of contact can be found at their respective agencies’ websites. 

Make the decision to apply.

Once you have identified the community needs and determined your eligibility for funds that are applicable to address the needs, you should secure the commitments of your key stakeholders such as board members, contributors, volunteers, advisors, clients and staff, potential partners, and community supporters. Consider the following key issues before making the commitment to proceed with the grant proposal:

  1. Staff Capacity to Complete the Application
    Successful grant writing is a time- and labor-intensive job. If you are new to grant writing, consider attending a workshop or taking a grant writing class, often offered through local community colleges and other organizations. The Grantsmanship Center offers online grant writing assistance to organizations and conducts classes in communities across the country. Online resources are available at http://www.tgci.com/.
  2. Hiring a Consultant
    Hiring someone outside of your organization may be a good choice if you or your staff members lack the time, experience, or expertise to produce a well-researched and well-written proposal. Contracting with a consultant may be a better, less expensive option than trying to hire a new staff person to prepare the application.  The right consultant can enable your organization to seek more funding from a wider variety of sources and free your staff to continue to carry out their regular duties. Also, a consultant who is new to the organization can provide a valuable, objective viewpoint.
  3. A Team Approach
    If you do not hire a consultant, it is generally best not to have one individual complete the application process alone. Having one person do everything—planning, writing, reviewing, and editing—may result in a one-dimensional proposal. There may be gaps in the proposal that a single set of eyes cannot see. Also disconnect between the proposal writer and those responsible for implementing the program can lead to later conflicts.  Therefore, it is generally best to have a team work with a writer/editor on the proposal. Your team should include your organization’s top-level staff, those responsible for implementation, any organizations who will serve as partners in delivering the program, the person responsible for evaluation, and the individual(s) responsible for developing the budget.
Click to open interactivity Be considerate in how and when you hire a consultant.

Be considerate in how and when you hire a consultant.

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