federal grant application process. According to Grants.gov, a federal grant is an award of financial assistance from a federal agency to a recipient "to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States."
The grant process is detailed and specific, with rules that must be closely adhered to. Although a few individuals receive federal grants, most federal grants are awarded to organizations, institutions, and state and local governments planning major projects that will benefit specific sectors of the population or the community as a whole. Organizations that receive government grants are subject to strict government oversight. They must meet detailed government performance standards during the duration of the project and funding period of the grant. Failure on the part of the grant recipient to perform under the requirements of the grant can result in penalties that range from economic sanctions to prison in cases of improper use or theft of public funds. Most government grants are applied for and awarded to other federal agencies, states, cities, colleges and universities, and research organizations.
Funding for the grant process begins with federal budget approval, with Congress deciding which programs receive which amounts of money. Once the federal budget is approved, funds for grant projects become available. Grant projects that have been announced appear in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), a listing of grant and assistance programs (currently over 2,100 ) administered by the federal agencies. Organizations or individuals seeking grants can also check the Weekly Federal Funding Report, where newly available grants programs are also announced, and also the Federal Register. Federal agencies themselves are also good sources of grant availability information.
The CFDA lists which organizations or individuals are eligible to apply for grants. The CFDA also explains the following:
How grant money can be used
How to apply, including detailed contact information
How applications are reviewed, judged, and awarded
What is expected of successful grantees including reports, audits and performance standards
After obtaining a basic understanding of what grant applications entail, the nest step in the process is finding grants to apply for, then submitting the application. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages an online grant application tool located at www.grants.gov. Grants.gov was established as a governmental resource and is today a central storehouse for information on more than 1,000 grant programs offered by 26 federal grant-making agencies, and it provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards.
The first step to finding grant opportunities in the Grants.gov database is searching the database to find a grant to apply for. One can browse using a number of different criteria:
Keyword, funding opportunity number (FON), or CFDA number
Category of funding activity
Advanced search using specific criteria, such as eligibility
Recovery Act opportunities
While browsing for opportunities, it is important to note eligibility requirements, including whether a grant is available for an organization or an individual.
Once one finds an opportunity to apply for, then the next step is submitting an online application, which process can take anywhere from 3-5 business days up to 4 weeks. Given that there are deadlines for each grant application, it is important to allow enough time for each step in the grant-seeking process. There is a different registration form to fill out depending upon whether one applies as an individual or as an organization.
Organizations need to request a DUNS number, a unique 9 digit number used for tracking purposes and obtained from Dun & Bradstreet. Organizations also need to complete their Central Contractor Registration (CCR), which requires a Tax Identification Number or Employer Identification Number, and which can take up to 2 weeks to obtain. The information required for CCR is similar to what one submits in an annual IRS tax return. The applicant is also asked to supply the organization's bank tracking and account numbers to facilitate electronic banking. Following this, the applicant completes an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) profile, then must be confirmed by the organization's E-Business Point of Contact as the AOR
The individual registration requires that the applicant have a Funding Opportunity number (FON) for a grant application for which one is applying. The applicant also completes a profile that includes an…