Who's Eligible for Federal Funding?

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federal funding eligibility

We often hear that grantseekers aren’t sure whether their organization is eligible for federal grants. The federal government makes thousands of grant awards annually to many types of organizations, and even to some individuals. Don’t write off this important funding source until you’ve examined the possibilities.  Here are a few thoughts to consider.

A Wide Variety of Eligible Applicants:

Each federal grant competition identifies eligible applicants, and eligibility varies widely from grant program to grant program. In some competitions, only 501(c)3 nonprofits are eligible, in other competitions only state or local government agencies are eligible. Eligibility might be limited to institutions of higher education, to existing agency grantees, or to organizations in specific areas of the country. Some competitions are only open to Native American organizations. Many competitions are open to for-profit businesses, in a few competitions individuals are eligible, and in some competitions there are no eligibility restrictions at all. It’s important to look at available federal funding competitions and check out eligibility requirements for those that would be a good fit for your organization’s work. Here’s a link to the Grants.gov website’s overview of eligible applicants.

Federal Grant Competitions are Tough:

Federal grant proposals are generally more demanding than proposals to private and corporate foundations. The application guidelines are extremely detailed and, in some of the most competitive programs, even loss of a few points can sink your chances for a grant award. If your organization is interested in competing for federal grant awards but has no experience in that arena, The Grantsmanship Center strongly recommends that you attend our 5-day Competing for Federal Grants training program, work with an experienced consultant, or partner with another organization that knows the ropes.

It’s Worth the Learning Curve:

While dealing effectively with the federal grants system can be a steep learning curve for organizations new to the national arena, it’s worth the investment of time and energy. You’ll have to get a DUNs number (easy), register with the federal System for Award Management (SAM), learn to use Grants.gov to scope out upcoming competitions, submit high-level proposals, and then deal with the intricacies of managing federal grants when you win an award. But there are millions and millions of dollars available for many important programs and when you participate in the federal grants system in a fully informed and careful way, those dollars can help your organization accomplish its mission in the community.

—Barbara Floersch, Executive Director

 

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