Federal grants are defined as awards given and/or sponsored by the US government. Examples of federal funding agencies include the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Here are 10 things you need to know about federal government grants:
- Federal grants are the big leagues. If this is your first grant application, federal grants are likely not your best first step.
- Federal grants are highly competitive. Typically less than 15% of applicants are awarded funds.
- Federal grants are often the most valuable. It is not uncommon for grants to be upwards of $250,000 or more. Many startups see these lofty award amounts (listed on the solicitation pages) and dream big! But with much money comes much responsibility 🙂
- Often federal grants are awarded to larger, well-established organizations, especially those with high award amounts.
- An increasingly popular trend is partnerships. Groups of nonprofit and for-profit organizations are gathering together towards federal proposals. This is a smart move. Funders like the reputation and proven track record of the larger organization, coupled with the innovation and creativity of smaller, scappier organizations.
- Use grants.gov to quickly and (relatively) easily find available federal grants from every agency, all in one place. Watch my video to see how easy it is.
- Federal grants come with many strings attached. If successful, be prepared to devote significant time (and money) towards reporting, research, and evaluation measures required by the grant.
- Read the opportunity solicitation at least three times before you write a single word. The first time is to get a general idea of what the opportunity is, and what they are looking for. The second time is to look for how you fit in, and the third time is to understand the main components and requirements.
- After reading through (usually 50+ pages), create an outline to ensure you address all the requirements.
- If a contact person is listed, don’t be afraid to ask questions! I have found these individuals to be very helpful and responsive in providing clarification and assisting with navigation. Just keep in mind that they cannot tell you anything that they have not told everyone else. Look for names and/or emails within the program solicitation. They are not always the easiest to find. For example, NSF calls these people ‘cognizant program officers’.
Good luck in your federal grant endeavors! If you need any help along the way, please get in touch at ashley@greatergoodconsultantsCT.com