6 Ways to Win Government Grants
Updated: Apr 4
Writing any grant is tough. Writing and winning government grants, especially federal grants, is even more challenging if you're still learning the ropes.
Here are six ways to win federal grants.
Finding Federal Grants
Grants.gov is home to just about every federal grant opportunity available in the United States and sometimes abroad. Even a google search will send you to grants.gov or an individual agency website. Individual government agencies like the Department of Labor (DOL), SAMHSA, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and others, house grant opportunities on their websites, which (usually) sync to grants.gov. It's a good habit to check both in the event opportunities don't sync immediately- I have been in situations where opportunities are on one platform and not the other. Even when you submit a grant, the FOA (federal opportunity announcement) will tell you how and where to do so. Some will require submission via grants.gov, some on their government agency website, and others will give you a choice to use either.
In order to submit an application for many federal grants, you must be registered on grants.gov. Registering on grants.gov begins with registering on multiple different systems and can take several weeks to complete. If you are considering submitting an application for a deadline occurring soon, there is very little anyone can do to speed up the registration process. If you don't remember anything else, remember this: register on grants.gov early, well before any deadline is on the horizon. It would be a horror story to invest several months in completing an application and ending up not submitting it because your organization could not get registered in time.
The grants.gov customer service line has been super helpful for my clients and my firm if questions arise. They are super knowledgeable, super patient, and are a great resource to use if you need to. Grants.gov also has a wonderful blog with a lot of video content to help you overcome hurdles. As always, if you ever get stuck writing the application, our firm, Think and Ink Grants (www.thinkandinkgrants.com), is only a phone call away.
Every federal grant opportunity is not a good fit for every nonprofit organization. There are some nonprofit organizations whose missions may be better supported by grants from foundations versus the federal government. Some nonprofits may not have the operational capacity to execute the grant if won.
Read the eligibility section to see if your organization type is listed as eligible to apply. Even if your organization is listed, consider asking yourself the following questions to assess fit, capacity to execute, and mission alignment here. Once you have completed all these steps, think about the timeline and your capacity to compose and submit a thoughtful application. Consider proceeding after thinking through these considerations.
Read the directions
If an announcement indicates using a 12 point font size, using an 11 point font size may put your application at risk of not being reviewed. Read, apply, and double-check that you have met every single criterion outlined in the directions. Many wonderfully written applications don't get funded not because they weren't great but because they were thrown out early in the review process due to a technicality.
Yes, we grant writers know many of these announcements are released, giving you only two to three weeks to prepare; however, we also know many of these opportunities are released in cycles either quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. If you know the opportunity occurs on a cycle, prepare early to give yourself months instead of only weeks to prepare. Your team will thank you for a less stressful grant application process and the reviewer will thank you for submitting a thoughtful application.
Shavonn Richardson, MBA, GPC is Founder and CEO of Think and Ink Grant Consulting™. She is a grant professional, an active speaker, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Grant Professionals Association.
Shavonn earned a BBA from Howard University and an MBA from Emory University. She earned the GPC (Grant Professional Certified) credential from the Grant Professionals Certification Institute in 2020.
Learn more at www.thinkandinkgrants.com