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Getting out of Funding Purgatory: Advice for the High-Risk Grantee

 

If your organization has experienced financial difficulty in the past or received a less than perfect audit, you might still get federal grant funds but be designated by the government as a “high risk” grant recipient. If your organization is cash poor, a high-risk grantee designation will make things even harder because you’ll be placed on reimbursement funding status—a kind of funding purgatory. Reimbursement funding status means you must advance your own funds first and then get reimbursed when you submit documentation of spending.

 

Watch Those Standard Assurances!

Thousands of federal grant proposals are submitted each year. Around 80% will be rejected and around 20% on average will get funded. The required signatures on the federal Standard Form 424 face sheet and the companion “Standard Assurances” bind your organization to comply with each of the 23 assurances associated with receipt of federal funding.

Earning the Grant Dollars

 
You have a federal grant award with an approved budget and you have verified that your spending plan includes only eligible costs. Now you can just draw down and spend, right? Not quite. The reality is that you have to earn the right to draw down those awarded dollars.

An Inaccurate or Confusing Budget Will Sink Your Proposal

 

In the world of grant proposals, the budget comprises as little as 5% or as much as 20% of the points you’ll be awarded in the federal review process. Yet, for many, preparing the budget and budget justification is the most troublesome and time-consuming part of the proposal development process.

 

Overview: Audit Opinions and Findings

When auditors assess your handling of grant funds, they’re not looking to ding you at every possible point with negative findings. Their job is to provide an official opinion about your financial statements that is unqualified, qualified, or disclaimed. An unqualified opinion means that your financial statements are free of material error and may be relied upon. 

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