Many nonprofits rely heavily on their donors to fund the work they do. Nonprofit managers constantly think about how they'll raise funds for their next project and worry about meeting budget requirements for the fiscal year. It's hard enough being responsible for funding an organization in the best of times, but throw in a global pandemic, and it's a whole new level of difficult.
Introducing Federal Grants
If you decide to apply for federal grants your burden just got lighter. What better way to generate the funding you need than to ask Uncle Sam for a little help? Maybe you never considered applying because you don't know how, and you think it's just too difficult. Maybe you've thought about federal grants but you're afraid of the accountability you'll have once you receive one. Let's go through this together, so you can stop begging foundations for small crumbs and start collecting money already set aside for you.
The federal government reserves a percentage of the taxes we pay to fulfill many of the needs of the very people you serve. They know there are too many problems to solve with their own programs, so they count on nonprofits to fill some of the gaps. Essentially, they want to give you money so you can help them to help their citizens. It's a win-win.
Government Grant Funds are allocated to states based on the following statistics:
- Unemployment Rate
- Inmate Population
- Low Birth Rates
- Number of Unwed Mothers
- Juvenile Delinquency
- High School Drop Out Rates
These community needs must be met, so grants are given to nonprofits just like yours to deal with the underlying issues. The U.S. Government gives roughly $500 Billion Dollars in grants for this purpose. The need is real, the funds are available to help, so why shouldn't you use what's available? The answer is, you absolutely should.
Federal grants are given to nonprofits who are able to meet certain obligations. If you receive funding you'll be expected to be a good steward of the money you're given, use the money for its intended purpose and keep copies of all receipts for expenses related to your work. It's really not that difficult. Software like Argenta
makes it very easy. The integrated Grant Management module allows you to assign expenses, timesheet tasks, projects, invoices and any other related documents, notes or files all in one place. Reporting is easy and compliance is part of the process.
If you've decided a federal grant is the way to go then you're probably wondering how to get started. The government has very specific ways to find and apply for their grants. Here's where you can find all the information you'll ever need about federal grants.
- https://www.grants.gov/ - Most nonprofits start here. This site has everything you need to find grants and apply for them. Twenty-Six federal agencies give grants and every one of them can be found here.
- The CFDA or Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance - This catalogue has funding opportunities by program number. You can find a hard copy at your local library or you can go to https://cfda.gov to find it.
- Federal agency websites. All twenty-six of the federal agencies who give grants have information about them on their respective websites.
Here are the most common steps to follow to get started.
- Go to https://www.grants.gov/ and complete a registration.
- Download specific packets for the grants you want to apply for.
- Submit your application online at https://www.grants.gov/
- Be patient. It can take up to six months to receive a response.
If you're awarded funding, you'll be made aware of what's expected of you in detail. Don't worry about that part yet. In our next article we'll talk about the obligations you'll have once you receive a grant, and how to keep yourself accountable to fulfill all the necessary requirements. Don't wait, go right over to https://www.grants.gov/
and get started!