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Category Archives: Grants and Funding

In any of several ways — both as applicants and clients — educational institutions and non-profit organizations, may recover costs for retaining a consultant to develop a proposal for a Federal grant.

 

Indirect Costs Graphics

 

This post discusses pre-award proposal development cost recovery in Federal grants. It is part of an ongoing series. Other posts discuss other aspects of using consultants in seeking grants.

 

Educational Institutions

 

Federal cost principles offer guidance for applicants that hope to pay for a consultant out of a future grant award. In Appendix A to Part 220 — Principles for Determining Costs Applicable to Grants, Contracts, and Other Agreements with Educational Institutions — the key provisions are J36 (pre-agreement costs) and J38 (proposal costs).

 

In simple terms, a ‘proposal cost’ is a cost of preparing a proposal on a potentially federally funded project, including the cost of developing data necessary to the proposal. An applicant may recover such a cost if the grant-making agency allows and approves recovery of such ‘pre-agreement costs’ in its request for proposals (RFP).

 

In a proposed budget, a line item would appear under the cost category of “Consultants.” For the benefit of the proposal’s peer reviewers and program officers, a meticulous applicant should explain this line item in its budget justification narrative.

 

Indirect Cost Rates

 

A second way for educational institutions to recover costs under Title 2 Part 220 is through an indirect cost rate. Using one, an applicant may recover the pre-application costs of hiring a consultant to develop a proposal to a Federal grant program that does not explicitly pre-approve charging such costs directly to a future grant award in a specific RFP. The applicant must take several steps in order to do so, an applicant must:

 

  • Apply to a Federal agency to establish an indirect cost rate.
  • Spread its pre-application costs (e.g., those for developing a proposal) over its entire indirect cost structure.
  • Apply its costs for preparing each proposal — as represented in its approved indirect cost rate — to each grant it obtains, but only do so when a grant program allows application of an indirect cost rate, since some programs do not.

 

 

All such recovered costs must satisfy the test of being “reasonable and equitable.” The applicant cannot allocate pre-application costs incurred during a previous accounting period into a current accounting period.

 

The use of an indirect cost rate allows the educational institution, as a client and an applicant, to recover its proposal development costs for both successful and unsuccessful grant applications. Federal agencies provide extensive cost determination guidance for calculating indirect cost rates.

 

Non-Profit Organizations

 

A non-profit organization must take a third approach in order to recover pre-award costs for proposal development. Title 2 Part 230, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations — in Appendix A and Appendix B — does not enable a non-profit to adopt the same approach as an educational institution to using indirect costs.

 

Instead, in order to become an allowable cost item, the non-profit must propose pre-award proposal development costs as part of an indirect cost rate proposal. In addition, a cognizant Federal agency — one that negotiates and approves indirect cost rates for a non-profit organization on behalf of all Federal agencies — must approve the non-profit’s proposed indirect cost rate.

 

Fund Development

 

Organizations may also apply for capacity-building grants from private foundations. Among the allowable purposes of such grants is commonly advancing an eligible applicant’s mission through “fund development.” This topic is the focus of another post.

 

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This post discusses ordinary and general grant consulting business expenses. It updates an earlier post. Other posts in the series discuss hourly fees and flat fees (also called per-proposal fees or per-project fees), consultant retainer fees and prospect research fees, and proposal review and editing fees.

 

Consulting Expenses Graphics

 

Consulting as Business

 

Grant consulting is a species of independent contracting. It represents a minor form of for-profit business enterprise. Its practitioners — as part of their service contracts — try to recover from clients some of the commonplace costs incidental to their work.

 

Consultants may adjust their hourly rates to reflect working with local versus distant clients. For onsite consulting, they may charge more-distant clients as much as $125 or more per hour. For an onsite visit with nearby clients, they may charge less per hour or even waive such fees entirely, particularly for an initial contact.

 

Travel Expenses

 

In the same way as other types of consultants (e.g., External Evaluators) who are written into a proposal’s budget, grant-writing consultants may charge a per-diem fee for onsite services; these commonly range from $500 to $3,000 per day. Similarly, they also may charge separately for most or all travel expenses incurred. Among such charges are: airfares, taxi fares, public transit fares, lodging, meals and tips, parking, car rental, mileage, and highway tolls. Other consultants don’t disaggregate this way. They simply build such costs of doing business into their overall rates.

 

Some consultants may require a client to prepay certain costs — such as lodging and/or airfare. They may also require a client to reimburse them later for mileage at the Internal Revenue Service rate  in effect at the time of the consultation. In 2019, this rate would be 58.0 cents per mile. Again, other consultants simply build such costs into their overall rates.

 

Per Diem Rates

 

Both clients and consultants may use the General Services Administration (GSA) to estimate reasonable costs for lodging, meals, and incidentals. In using them, they should note that some GSA rates vary by season. They also exclude local and state sales taxes.

 

As examples, as of August 2019, the GSA per-diem rates for Houston, in Harris County, Texas are: lodging $120/day, meals $56/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. For Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, the per-diem rates are: lodging $183/day, meals $71/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. However, for Concord, in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, the per-diem rates are: lodging $102/day, meals $61/day, and incidental expenses $5/day. These GSA per-diem rates vary both by location and time of year.

 

Rapid Turnarounds

 

Finally, some consultants will try to recover a fee for expediting a grant proposal on a short turnaround time. Such charges for rush delivery, incorporated into fee schedules and contracts, may be $500 to $1,500 or more per proposal. Essentially, they amount to a surcharge for the consultant’s stress in meeting deadlines and a potential lack of sleep. As grant seekers, clients should try to give consultants as much lead-time as possible to avoid these premiums.

 

Many private foundations – and some government agencies – may solicit a proposal in the form of a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) either instead of or before a full proposal.

 

Letters Inquiry 2 Graphics

 

Excluding any required attachments, an LOI often will have six parts. Among these are: the Program Description, the Budget Statement, and the Closing Statement. The others, covered separately, are: the Introduction, the Rationale, and the Capacity Statement.

 

“Vigorous writing is concise,” as Strunk and White advised in their classic manual, The Elements of Style. In writing a Letter of Inquiry, brevity and clarity are virtues.

 

Program Description

 

In a Program Description, a prudent applicant will:

  • State the who, number, and location of the persons it plans to serve
  • State the goals, objectives, key activities for which it seeks support
  • Define the scope, scale, start, end, and duration of its undertaking
  • Specify its partnering organizations and their roles

 

Suggested Optimum Length: 2-4 paragraphs

 

Budget Request

 

In a Budget Request, a prudent applicant will:

  • Provide adequate but not exhaustive information
  • Use budget categories that fit the grant-maker
  • Discuss any leveraging or matching of funds

 

Suggested Optimum Length: 1-2 paragraphs

 

Closing Statement

 

In a Closing Statement, a prudent applicant will:

  • Restate the purpose, likely impacts, and fit with the funder’s interests
  • Indicate a follow-up method and timeframe

 

Suggested Optimum Length: 1 paragraph

 

Attachments

 

In providing attachments, a smart applicant will:

  • Attach an annual financial report, if required
  • Attach proof of non-profit status, if required
  • Attach a list of directors and their positions and affiliations, if required
  • Limit attachments to what the grant-maker requires

 

Suggested Optimum Length: Whatever the grant maker requires.

 

This is the last of a two-part series about writing Letters of Inquiry.

 

Many private foundations may solicit a proposal in the form of a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) either instead of or before a full proposal. On occasion, a government agency may also request a Letter of Inquiry (or a pre-proposal, which may be much longer) before it accepts a full proposal.

 

Letter Inquiry 1 Graphics

 

Excluding any required attachments, a typical LOI to a private grant maker will be no longer than three pages. The LOI often will have six parts: an Introduction, a Rationale, a Capacity Statement, a Program Description, a Budget Statement, and a Closing Statement.

 

“Vigorous writing is concise.” Thus advised Strunk and White in their classic manual, The Elements of Style. Almost always, in writing a Letter of Inquiry, brevity and clarity are virtues.

 

Opening Statement or Introduction

 

In an Opening Statement or Introduction, a prudent applicant will:

  • Describe what it proposes to do
  • Specify the amount of funding requested and from whom
  • Indicate the proposed duration and time period

 

Suggested Optimum Length: 1 paragraph

 

Assessment of Need or Rationale

 

In an Assessment of Need or Rationale, a prudent applicant will:

  • Hit the funder’s hot buttons (i.e., its interests and priorities)
  • Show who the need or problem affects
  • Discuss the factors or causes creating the need or problem
  • State what can be done to fix the problem or alleviate the need
  • Describe what it is doing to fix it and what still remains to be done
  • Discuss what may happen if the problem or need remains unchanged

 

Suggested Optimum Length: 1-2 paragraphs

 

Organizational Capacity Statement

 

In a 1-2 paragraph Organizational Capacity Statement, a prudent applicant will:

  • Outline its organizational history and mission
  • Discuss its organizational capacity to do what it proposes
  • Cite related major organizational accomplishments and initiatives
  • Describe the demographics of whom it plans to serve
  • Describe key staff

 

Suggested Optimum Length: 1-2 paragraphs

 

This post covers the first three parts of a typical LOI; a later post covers the remaining three parts.

 

Competition for public and private grants is intense, although the pursuit of grants does vary by nonprofit sector. During the 2010s, private foundation assets have rebounded while government has reduced and consolidated many discretionary grant programs. In 2019, as the decade ends, nonprofits need all the tools they can find to find suitable grant makers and win competitively awarded grants.

 

Nonprofits Capacity Graphics

 

This post focuses on improving organizational readiness to pursue grants. Other posts explore where nonprofits can go to find leads for grants from corporations and foundations – either for free or at a modest cost.

 

GuideStar (Candid)

 

GuideStar provides access to information on 2,500,000 Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-recognized tax-exempt organizations. Among the nonprofits in its databases are most of the Nation’s 86,200-plus private foundations. Its database of IRS Form 990 images is useful for researching the 990-PF (private foundation) filings of prospective grant makers and exploring their historical patterns of grant making. In February 2019, GuideStar merged with Foundation Center to become Candid.

 

Council on Foundations

 

Based in the Washington, DC area, the Council on Foundations is a nonprofit membership association of 2,100+ grant-making foundations and corporations. It is an abundant source of insights about grant making from the grant makers’ viewpoints. Its Grant Management resources may be of specific interest to grant seekers.

 

Among the many resources available via the COF are:

  • National standards (e.g., for community foundations)
  • Professional development (e.g., conferences, webinars, and seminars)
  • A career center

 

Centers for Nonprofit Management

 

In geographic regions across the United States of America is a number of Centers for Nonprofit Management, each of which provides assistance to its member nonprofits — including services useful to grant seekers. Among such services are:

 

  • Brand management
  • Board development
  • Organizational development
  • Strategic planning
  • Executive searches
  • Fundraising planning and coordination

 

Maine Association of Nonprofits

 

Like others across the United States of America, the Maine Association of Nonprofits(MANP) assists nonprofits within that State in areas related to nonprofit management. Among MANP’s services are educational training, databases, and publications designed to build perspectives, skills, and resources of nonprofit boards and executive leadership. Among other concerns, MANP focuses its services on:

 

  • Communications
  • Public relations
  • Social media
  • Evaluation
  • Grant writing
  • Fundraising

 

In furnishing support to the nonprofit sector via training and publications, MANP works closely with the Maine Philanthropy Center(MPC). The MPC is part of the Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network (FIN) of cooperating collections of philanthropy-related resources.

 

Finding funding sources is often one of the most time-consuming aspects of seeking competitively awarded grants. Federal grant opportunities are no exception. This post surveys links to sources of Federal grants from Federal grant-making agencies and offices. It is one of a series of related posts. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Although www.grants.gov consolidates the listing of most grant programs, many individual Federal agencies and offices still maintain their own listings. One advantage of this practice is direct access to supplemental guidance and program-specific resources.

 

Links were valid as of August 2019; if one proves inactive — and it does not automatically redirect users to a live link — simply reduce the link back to its domain name (e.g., usda.gov) and review that website for a new link.

 

Federal Grants 4 Graphics

 

Among the Federal agencies and offices that offer grants in 2019 are:

 

Libraries and Museums

 

Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

https://www.imls.gov/grants/apply-grant/available-grants

 

Public Services

 

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS):

https://www.nationalservice.gov/grants-funding/funding-resources/cncs-funding-opportunities-resources?tbl_nofa_id=83

 

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

 

National Science Foundation (NSF):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/

 

Crosscutting and NSF-Wide Funding Opportunities:

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?type=xcut

 

Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=BIO

 

Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=CISE

 

Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=EHR

 

Directorate for Engineering (ENG):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=ENG

 

Directorate for Geosciences (GEO):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=GEO

 

Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=MPS

 

Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=SBE

 

Environmental Research and Education (ERE):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=ERE

 

Office of Advanced Cyber Infrastructure (OAC):

https://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=OAC

 

Office of Integrative Activities (OIA):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=OIA

 

Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=OISE

 

Office of Polar Programs (OPP):

https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=OPP

 

Social Security

 

Social Security Administration (SSA):

https://www.ssa.gov/oag/grants/

 

State

 

US Department of State (State):

https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-making-agencies/department-of-state.html

 

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA):

https://eca.state.gov/organizational-funding

 

Transportation

 

US Department of Transportation (DOT):

https://www.transportation.gov/grants

 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

https://www.nhtsa.gov/highway-safety-grants-program/resources-guide

Finding funding sources is often one of the most time-consuming aspects of seeking competitively awarded grants. Federal grant opportunities are no exception. This post surveys links to sources of Federal grants from Federal grant-making agencies and offices. It is one of a series of related posts. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Although www.grants.gov consolidates the listing of most grant programs, many individual Federal agencies and offices still maintain their own listings. One advantage of this practice is direct access to supplemental guidance and program-specific resources.

 

Links were valid as of August 2019; if one proves inactive — and it does not automatically redirect users to a live link — simply reduce the link back to its domain name (e.g., usda.gov) and review that website for a new link.

 

Federal Grants 3 Graphics

 

Among the Federal agencies and offices that offer grants in 2019 are:

 

Homeland Security

 

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/find-and-apply-grants

 

Housing and Urban Development

 

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/spm/gmomgmt/grantsinfo

 

Humanities

 

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH):

https://www.neh.gov/grants

 

Interior

 

US Department of the Interior (DOI):

https://www.doi.gov/businesses/working-with-interior

 

United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS):

https://www.fws.gov/grants/

 

Justice

 

US Department of Justice (DOJ):

https://www.justice.gov/grants

National Institute of Justice (NIJ):

https://www.nij.gov/funding/Pages/welcome.aspx

 

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC):

https://www.ovc.gov/grants/index.html

 

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP):

https://www.ojjdp.gov/funding/funding.html

 

Labor

 

US Department of Labor (DOL):

https://www.dol.gov/general/grants/howto#.UKzTdHjFKQo

 

Bureau International Labor Affairs (ILAB):

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/grants

 

Employment and Training Administration (ETA):

https://www.doleta.gov/grants/

 

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA):

https://www.msha.gov/training-education/training-programs-courses

 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

https://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/

 

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP):

https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/grants.htm

 

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM):

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/oasam/grants

 

 

Finding funding sources is often one of the most time-consuming aspects of seeking competitively awarded grants. Federal grant opportunities are no exception. This post surveys links to sources of Federal grants from Federal grant-making agencies and offices. It is one of a series of related posts. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Although www.grants.gov consolidates the listing of most grant programs, many individual Federal agencies and offices still maintain their own listings. One advantage of this practice is direct access to supplemental guidance and program-specific resources.

 

Federal Grants 2 Graphics

 

Links were valid as of August 2019; if one proves inactive — and it does not automatically redirect users to a live link — simply reduce the link back to its domain name (e.g., usda.gov) and review that website for a new link.

 

Among the Federal agencies and offices that offer grants in 2019 are:

 

Education

 

US Department of Education (USDE):

https://www2.ed.gov/programs/find/title/index.html

 

Institute of Education Sciences (IES):

https://ies.ed.gov/funding

 

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE):

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/programs.html

 

Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA):

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oela/programs.html

 

Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII):

https://www.ed.gov/oii-news/funding-opportunities

 

Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE):

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/programs.html

 

Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE):

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/programs.html

 

Energy

 

US Department of Energy (DOE):

https://www.energy.gov/energy-economy/funding-financing

 

Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy (ARPA-E):

https://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=programs/apply-for-funding

 

Office of Science:

https://www.energy.gov/science/office-science-funding/office-science-funding-opportunities

 

Environment

 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

https://www.epa.gov/grants

 

National Center for Environmental Research (NCER):

https://www.epa.gov/research-grants

 

Health and Human Services

 

US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS):

https://www.hhs.gov/grants/index.html

 

Administration for Children and Families (ACF):

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/howto

 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):

https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/fund-opps/index.html

 

Agency on Community Living (ACL):

https://acl.gov/grants/open-opportunities

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

https://www.cdc.gov/funding

 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Research/ResearchDemoGrantsOpt/index.html

 

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA):

https://www.hrsa.gov/grants/index.html

 

National Institutes of Health (NIH):

https://grants.nih.gov/grants/grant_basics.htm

 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grants-management

 

 

 

Finding funding sources is often one of the most time-consuming aspects of seeking competitively awarded grants. Federal grant opportunities are no exception. This post surveys links to sources of Federal grants from Federal grant-making agencies and offices. It is one of a series of related posts. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Although www.grants.gov consolidates the listing of most grant programs, many individual Federal agencies and offices still maintain their own listings. One advantage of this practice is direct access to supplemental guidance and program-specific resources.

 

Links were valid as of August 2019; if one proves inactive — and it does not automatically redirect users to a live link — simply reduce the link back to its domain name (e.g., usda.gov) and review that website for a new link.

 

Federal Grants 1 Graphics

 

Among the Federal agencies and offices that offer grants in 2019 are:

 

Aeronautics and Space

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):

http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/solicitations.do?method=init&stack=push

 

Agriculture

US Department of Agriculture (USDA):

https://www.usda.gov/topics/farming/grants-and-loans

 

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA):

https://nifa.usda.gov/grants

 

United States Forest Service (USFS):

https://www.fs.fed.us/research

 

Archives

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):

https://www.archives.gov/nhprc/announcement

 

Commerce

US Department of Commerce (DOC):

https://www.commerce.gov/work-with-us/grants-and-contract-opportunities

 

Economic Development Administration (EDA):

https://www.eda.gov/funding-opportunities

 

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html

 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

https://www.ago.noaa.gov

 

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA):

https://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/grants

 

Defense

US Department of Defense (DOD):

https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-making-agencies/department-of-defense.html

 

Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR):

https://www.wpafb.af.mil/Welcome/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/842050

 

Army Research Office (ARO)

https://www.arl.army.mil/www/default.cfm?page=506

 

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP):

https://cdmrp.army.mil/funding

 

Office of Naval Research (ONR):

https://www.onr.navy.mil/Contracts-Grants.aspx

 

Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP):

https://www.serdp-estcp.org/Funding-Opportunities

Sooner or later, many grant seekers visit a location in the Foundation Center Funding Information Network to do online prospect research. After spending an hour or less, they often leave smiling broadly, having just sent long lists of leads to their e-mail accounts. But what do they do next?

 

Prospect Research Graphic

 

Key Questions

 

How do productive grant seekers use their sometimes-lengthy lists? How do they decide which leads are worth pursuing and which ones are dead-ends?

 

As productive grant seekers study each grant maker profile drawn from their lists, they pose and answer key questions. The table captures some of what they ask:

 

Physical Location: Is the foundation local? How near is the foundation to the applicant?

 

Website: Is there a website for this grant maker?

 

Limitations: Does the applicant fall within any one or more limitations?

 

Type of Grant Maker: Is the grant maker an independent foundation? Is the grant maker a family foundation? Is the grant maker a corporate charitable giving program?

 

IRS 990-PF Forms: What years are available for review? What is the most current year available?

 

Deadline(s): Is there a deadline? When is it?

 

Purposes/Activities: Do the funder’s purposes/intended activities match the applicant’s?

 

Fields of Interest: Do the funder’s fields of interest match the applicant’s?

 

Trustees/Directors: Does the applicant have a connection to any trustees/directors?

 

Financial Data: Are the funder’s asset amounts more than $100,000? Is the funder’s total giving more than $50,000?

 

Selected Grants: Does the grant maker profile list any grant award selections? If so, for what amounts were they? If so, to what kinds of organizations were they made?

 

Later posts will explore how and why answers to these specific questions will help potential applicants to sort the stronger leads from among the weaker ones.

 

 

 

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