What is a Grant?

Lets look at the definition:

“A form of gift that entails certain obligations on the part of the grantee and expectations on the part of the grantor.”

That simply means that you have to use the grant as it is intended. So, for example, if its an educational grant, you must use the money for your education. Every grant carries stipulations regarding how the money is to be spent.

The great thing about grants is that they dont have to be paid back. Imagine the government giving you money for a change!

There are 2 basic types of government grants:

1. Federal grants: These grants are provided by a wide variety of federal governmental agencies. These grants tend to be geared more towards larger organizations and state/local governments. There are some opportunities for individuals to get grants, too, so dont be discouraged.
2. State grants: These are grants provided by your state government. Frequently, the money was originally given to the states by the federal government. More grants exist here for the individual.

In this report, well examine how the grant process works, how to apply for a grant, action tips for successfully winning the grants, and scams to watch out for. Lets get started!

A corporations primary goal is to make money. Governments primary role is to take a big chunk of that money and give it to others.

- Larry Ellison

Federal Grants

There are numerous agencies that serve as grantors. These are agencies like the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, and the National Endowment of the Arts.

There is a lot of money available, if you have a project that appeals to these departments. You have to be patient in your quest this is the federal government youre dealing with after all!

How the Federal Grant Process Works

As you probably know, the Congress passes a federal budget each year. Within this budget are funds dedicated to grants. Once this budget has been approved, the funds become available. The availability of the funds is announced in the Federal Register throughout the calendar year.

Ultimately, all the grants are listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). This listing has over 2,200 grant programs. Fifty-six federal agencies administer the various programs. The CFDA is available at the public library or can be found online at http://www.cfda.gov/. Searching the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is free!

The most newly available grants can also be found listed in the Weekly Federal Funding Report. The House of Representatives publishes this. It can also be as a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in the Federal Register.

Below is the short version of the overall process. Well look at the pertinent steps in more detail afterwards.

1. Register. You must register yourself and/or your organization. It will typically take 3-5 business days for your registration to be accepted. It can take as long as 2 weeks. If youre planning on applying for a grant, its a good idea to register first and get it out of the way.
2. Find a grant. Locate grant opportunities that support your need.
3. Write, write, write and submit your application. For a larger grant, it can take several months to get all the information and documentation together. Be sure to give yourself the time you need.
4. The grant is received and assigned to reviewers. After your application is received, it will usually be assigned to specific reviewers for a preliminary evaluation. These teams of reviewers are each given a portion of the application. This process alone can take a couple of months.
5. The application is reviewed. There is an extensive review and scoring process. This can also take months to complete. At the end, the recommendations are forwarded to a committee that makes the final decisions.
6. Pre-award process: Decisions are made regarding which projects will be funded, as well as the amount of money that will be provided to each chosen project. There is a lot of negotiating at this step, as committee members can favor certain projects over others.
7. Notification of award: The winners will be notified of the acceptance of their project as well as the funds awarded.
8. You receive the grant. The entire process typically takes about a year. It might seem like a long time, but it is what it is.

As you can see, it is a lengthy and involved process in many cases. Its important to get started well before the deadline and avoid procrastinating. Dont be intimidated. Everyone else youre competing against is going through the same process.