Applying for Federal grants can be confusing and time-consuming for both businesses and non-profit organizations. The best way to go about it is to be prepared with all the required information such as obtaining a DUNS number, registering with the System for Award Managment (SAM.gov), and getting all your documents in order.
Grant application expert Sheila Barsness explains the ins and outs of applying for a Federal grant in this guest article below. Sheila has helped groups obtain more than $7 million in grants, so follow her advice on best practices.
What You Need to Know Before Applying For A Federal Grant!
Visit the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at cfda.gov for an extensive overview of grants for which you may be eligible. Grant descriptions include the objective of the grant, its uses and restrictions, eligibility requirements, and other correlated information.
On the CFDA website they have grant application process information. It is good reference material and well worth reading to find out how the Federal grant application process works and what you need to provide in the way of supporting documentation.
Veteran applicants, who have a clearer idea of what type of grant they need, may prefer to go directly to grants.gov which provides specific details on available grants and also allows you to apply online.
Preparing to apply for Federal grants:
There is no application fee, but you must obtain a DUNS number and a System for Award Management (SAM, formerly CCR) and registering at SAM may take up to a week or more.
If you want to receive a grant by a particular time, plan accordingly. Also, do not wait until the last minute to try and submit your award electronically.
• Obtain a DUNS number
Federal policy requires anyone doing business with the federal government to have a DUNS number. Go to https://www.dnb.com/ and click “D&B DUNS Number” in the upper-right tab. On the next page, click “Next” tab in the “For U.S. Government Contractors, Vendors, and Grant Recipients” box on the right side of the page. Follow the instructions. There is no charge for this number.
• Register with SAM.gov (System for Award Management)
Federal policy also requires anyone doing business with the federal government – including those seeking grants – to be registered with the System for Award Mangaement. Go to sam.gov and follow the instructions carefully.
• Documents you need if you are applying for a federal grant for the first time:
- Letter of intent
- Organizational resume
- Support letters
Letter of intent – As an Individual this would be your resume and why you would be appropriate to receive funding.
Organizational resume – A business or organization should include an Organizational Resume as well as why the grant would be appropriate.
References – These should be professionals able to speak to your qualifications for the grant.
Support letters – Support letter’s are perfect for helping to get grants. You will want to make friends with political support staff for your area because it holds a lot of weight when you have a support letter from your Congressional delegate.
Submitting grant applications
When you have all your documents in order, a DUNS number and are registered at SAM, you can now register at Grants.gov to submit a grant application electronically. Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to submit your grant. Give yourself at least 48 hours lead time before the submission deadline.
One last piece of advice, if you don’t have your DUNS number or your SAM, give yourself up to three weeks to obtain those items.
About The Author
Sheila Barsness is a Professional Grant Writer and Fundraising Consultant with 12 years of successful experience as both an Executive Director for a non-profit and as a free-lance writer/consultant. In case you decide you need help getting started or are looking for someone to write the grant for you, visit her website
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