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Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span Salaries to Zero Funding. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Salaries Supplies
Seed Money Sustainability
Selection Criteria Travel
Sequestration Unallowable Costs
Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Uniform Application Forms
Soft Funds Unrestricted Funds
Standard Form Wages
Sub-Grantee Zero Funding


SALARIES: The compensation of professional and technical personnel – who are typically limited only to those holding a post-secondary degree – before the addition of fringe benefits.


SEED MONEY: A grant award intended to help start a new project or initiative or to launch a new non-profit organization. It also may be called a Start-Up Grant.


SELECTION CRITERIA: The formal set of factors a grant maker uses in scoring and ranking a set of competitive proposals to determine which ones it will select for funding. It also may be called Criteria or Review Criteria.


SEQUESTRATION: A mandatory spending cut in the federal budget, such as through a repeal of legislation authorizing a grant program, a reduction of the funding appropriated for a grant program, or an appropriation of no funding for a grant program.


SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT (SPOC): The person in state government whom an applicant must inform when it is applying for a federal grant. The federal Office of Management and the Budget maintains a list of single points of contact. Some states have one; others do not.


SOFT FUNDS: A non-technical term for the funding of staff positions or other resources using grant funds rather than other means (e.g., revenues from tax levies); it reflects the premise that such assets are not as secure or stable, over the long term, as those funded using other means (e.g., annual tax levies). Also see: Hard Funds.


STANDARD FORM: A blank template that an applicant must complete and submit – as each specific program requires – with its application for a federal grant. The federal General Services Administration provides a comprehensive collection of standard forms. Example: SF424. Also see: Uniform Application Forms.


SUB-GRANTEE: A lower-tier recipient (e.g., a county agency) of grant funds from a higher-tier recipient of those funds (e.g., a state agency) and not directly from the grant maker; also called a sub-recipient. Also see: Grantee.


SUPPLANTING: A deliberate shifting or displacement in the source of funds (e.g., state or local) used to afford a given resource (e.g., personnel) in an organization because of the availability of federal grant funds after a new grant award. One caveat in many government grant programs is “Do not supplant.”


SUPPLIES: A cost category for consumable resources such as paper, pens, pencils, postage, folders, files, binders, paperclips, toner, blank data storage media, and similar office products. Definitions and thresholds for value of the discrete items vary widely across grant programs and funding agencies. Also see: Materials.


SUSTAINABILITY: A measure of the perceived likelihood that an applicant (and its partners, if any) will be able to obtain and use funding (and other resources) from itself and/or other sources to continue its proposed project or initiative after its initial grant funding ends. Grant makers of all types often favor proposals that exhibit a high potential for sustainability.


TRAVEL: A cost category for costs associated with going place-to-place, including fares (e.g., air, bus, train, taxi, or shuttle), vehicle rentals or leases, mileage, tolls, meals, tips, and lodging. Every item assigned to this category must be clearly defined and thoroughly justified.


UNALLOWABLE COSTS: The cost categories or discrete line items that a grant maker forbids or discourages an applicant to include as part of a proposed budget. Also see: Allowable Costs.


UNIFORM APPLICATION FORMS: The standard forms that applicants must complete and submit with applications for federal grants; several of them require specific or detailed budget information.  Example: SF424. In federal programs, these are associated with specific notices of grant opportunities posted on


UNRESTRICTED FUNDS: Funds from a grant or any other source that an organization may use for any legal purpose, such as general funds or operating funds. Also see: Restricted Funds.


WAGES: The hourly compensation of non-professional personnel – typically all of those who do not hold a post-secondary degree – before the addition of fringe benefits, if any.


ZERO FUNDING: The termination of a grant program authorized by law or regulation by ending all appropriations for funding it. Also see:Declining Funding, Level Funding.


This post concludes a revised seven-part series Glossary for Budget Development. A companion five-part series covers Proposal Development, and a companion two-part series covers Evaluation Plans.



Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span Operating Support Grant to Review Panel. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Operating Support Grant Project Period
Other Proposal
Overhead Recipient
Pass-Through Funding Regulations
Personnel Replicability
Private Foundation Request for Proposals (RFP)
Program Office Research Grant
Program Officer Restricted Funds
Project Review Panel
Project Income  


OPERATING SUPPORT GRANT: A grant that supports the general purpose or work of an applicant, and as such may be used as general revenue or unrestricted funding.


OTHER: A cost category commonly used in state and federal grant programs for budget items that do not fit other categories. Every item assigned to this category should be as clearly defined and as well justified as every other item in a proposed budget. Avoid using this cost category for proposing budget line items vaguely identified as “contingency” or as “miscellaneous.”


OVERHEAD: SeeIndirect Costs.


PASS-THROUGH FUNDING: A scheme for the distribution of funding where a first tier of grant recipients (e.g., state agencies) administers a grant program, awards sub-grants to a second tier of eligible applicants (e.g., school districts or non-profit organizations); and performs a yearly program audit of the second-tier grant recipients. It also may be called Flow-Through Funding.


PERSONNEL: A cost category for the human resources or labor, internal to the applicant as an organization, who will be involved in implementing a project; it includes positions paid in salaries and those paid in wages, and it excludes all independent contractors (e.g., evaluators and other consultants). Personnel may or may not be paid out of a proposed grant budget. Also see: Key Personnel, Staff,  Staffing Plan.


PRIVATE FOUNDATION: A legally defined type of nonprofit organization whose directors or trustees conduct charitable programs for social, cultural, educational, religious, or other permissible purposes. Example: Sarkeys Foundation.


PROGRAM OFFICE: An administrative unit, within a grant-making organization, that implements or coordinates the details of conducting a grant program, including the review and ranking of applications.


PROGRAM OFFICER: An administrator on the staff of a grant-making organization who runs a specific grant program, manages grant competitions, and provides technical assistance either to potential grant applicants or to existing grant recipients or to both.


PROJECT: The entire proposed plan for which an applicant requests grant funds.


PROJECT INCOME: The revenue an applicant’s project is expected to generate during a given time-span; it may include products sold, membership dues, service fees, earned interest, and funds raised by other means. It may also be called Program Income or Revenue.


PROJECT PERIOD: The total time for which support of a discretionary project has been approved; it is usually a series of one-year budget periods. Most project periods last one to five years; some may be longer, others may be shorter. Also see: Budget Period, Grant Period.


PROPOSAL: A written application of vastly varying length and content, submitted to one or more grant makers, describing a plan or initiative to meet one or more identified needs, and requesting partial or full funding for its support. Some grant makers and grant programs require much more formal, detailed, and highly structured proposals – narratives and budgets – than do others. It also may be called an Application or a Funding Request.


RECIPIENT: An individual or organization that will receive a grant or has received a grant.


REGULATIONS: Administrative guidelines for government grants, issued after enabling legislation, which establish and define eligible applicants; eligible beneficiaries; the nature of activities to be funded; allowable costs; selection criteria for proposal review; and other requirements. Example: Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR).


REPLICABILITY: The proven or predicted ability of a project’s effective activities and strategies to be transportable to another setting and to generate similar results in it; it is a factor in considering the potential impact of an initial grant award and it is a criterion often associated with grant programs that fund demonstration projects. Also see: Demonstration Grant.


REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP): A formal invitation to apply for a grant that describes what types of applicants are eligible to apply; when proposals are due; the program selection criteria; the contents required in a complete proposal; anticipated levels and durations of funding; and other considerations. The specific length and contents of an RFP vary widely from one grant program and one solicitation to another. Also may be called a Request for Applications (RFA) or a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).


RESEARCH GRANT: A grant designed to support research rather than to support other purposes such as direct services or general operating costs. Also see: Direct Services Grant.


RESTRICTED FUNDS: Funds that a grant recipient may use only for predetermined purposes – such as those defined in the approved budget of a funded grant proposal – and that, consequently, it cannot expend as general funds. Also see: Unrestricted Funds.


REVIEW PANEL: A group of peers or experts retained by a grant maker to evaluate the merits of grant proposals in a grant competition and to recommend which ones should be funded. Sometimes the reviewers may include one or more directors or trustees of a foundation.


A later post will cover Budget Development Glossary entries from Salaries to Zero Funding.


Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span In-Kind Contribution to Novice Applicant. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


In-Kind Contribution Level Funding
Indirect Cost Rate Leveraging
Indirect Costs (IDC) Line Item
Invitational Priority Market Value
Lead Agent (Applicant) Matching Funds
Lead Agent (Grant Maker) Matching Grant
Letter of Commitment Materials
Letter of Inquiry Multiyear Budget
Letter of Intent (LOI) Non-Competitive Grant
Letter of Support Novice Applicant


IN-KIND CONTRIBUTION: A non-cash donation of labor (paid staff or unpaid volunteer), facilities, equipment, materials, or supplies to carry out a project. Applicants for grants must exercise extraordinary care in calculating the cash value of in-kind contributions and in identifying, tracking, and reporting the sources of such contributions. Also see: Matching Funds.


INDIRECT COST RATE: An annually revised percentage established by a unit of government for a grant recipient that the recipient uses in computing the amount it charges to a grant to reimburse itself for the indirect costs it incurs in doing the work of the grant-funded project. The rate may be a Final Rate, a Fixed Rate, a Predetermined Rate, or a Provisional Rate. A foundation grant maker also may solicit and approve an applicant’s proposed indirect cost rate before it considers a proposal from an applicant or awards a grant to it.


INDIRECT COSTS (IDC): A cost category for costs that are not readily allocable to or identifiable with operating a specific grant program; it is also often called Overhead. Indirect costs equal direct costs multiplied by the approved indirect cost rate (IDC = DC x rate). Such costs commonly relate to administration and facilities. Generally, a government agency, as a grant maker, reimburses indirect costs only after it has negotiated and approved an indirect cost rate with the grant recipient. As grant makers, foundations are less apt than units of government to allow full or partial recovery of an organization’s indirect costs. Also see: Direct Costs, Indirect Cost Rate.


INVITATIONAL PRIORITY: An area of special focus which a grant maker would prefer to see an applicant address in its proposal, but which does not affect the review, rating, or rank ordering of proposals.


LEAD AGENCY (Applicant): The organization that submits a proposal on behalf of a partnership of two or more organizations and that serves as the grant recipient. If funded, the lead agency is legally responsible for implementing and administering its funded project, for properly managing all grant funds, and for submitting all required reports.


LEAD AGENCY (Grant Maker): Particularly in federal grant making, the agency or program office with the primary responsibility for approving or funding a project. It reviews the proposals, coordinates with other involved agencies, and notifies the applicant of its funding outcome.


LETTER OF COMMITMENT: A brief official letter that conveys the willingness of a partner organization to commit cash or other resources to a proposed project. It specifies the terms and conditions of the commitment, the precise resources to be offered or delivered, and the actual or estimated values of those resources. Also see: Letter of Support.


LETTER OF INQUIRY (LOI): A brief, but formal, mode of grant application, typically one to five pages long, often used when an applicant seeks a grant from a foundation. Commonly includes: introduction; problem statement; objectives and activities; evaluation plan; organizational capacity statement; and budget. Often forms a basis for deciding whether the foundation will request a full proposal from an applicant. Informally, also known as an LOI.


LETTER OF INTENT: (1) A brief official letter or email (or other specified form of notification) from a potential applicant to a grant maker that conveys its intention to apply for funding. The grant maker may request or require the letter of intent in order to gauge the number of applicants likely to be competing for funding in a given grant program. (2) Some grant makers may use the term as a synonym for Letter of Inquiry.


LETTER OF SUPPORT: A brief official letter that conveys the enthusiasm, endorsement, and encouragement of an individual or an organization for an applicant’s proposed grant project or initiative and for its request for funding, but does not explicitly commit resources to it. Also see: Letter of Commitment.


LEVEL FUNDING: An amount of grant funding that does not change from year to year during a multiyear grant period. Also see: Declining Funding.


LEVERAGING: A measure of the potential role that a given grant award is likely to have in attracting other funding or resources to a proposed project or initiative. As the specific grant maker requires, an applicant may present either a ratio of requested grant funds to total project funds or a ratio of requested grant funds to funds from other sources.


LINE ITEM: A single, discrete, allowable element of expenditure with an allocated cost within a specific cost category. Line items are parts of a detailed, itemized budget.


MARKET VALUE: The economic value of a resource (e.g., volunteer labor at minimum wage) as determined up to the date and time an applicant submits a proposal (e.g., the wage rate in effect on or before that date). Often, an applicant determines market value by checking an official government publication or website or by reviewing a grant program’s regulations.


MATCHING FUNDS: The share of the total costs of a project or initiative, as required by law or regulation, which comes from any source other than the specific grant being sought. Matching funds may consist of the fair market value of donated resources (in-kind contributions) or of actual cash to be spent (cash) or of both. See the table for examples when an applicant is requesting a $500,000 grant award. Also see: Cost Sharing.


Calculating Matching Funds
Match Required Grant Maker Share Local Share Total Budget
50% Match = 1:1 $500,000 $500,000     $1,000,000
33% Match = 2:1 $500,000 $250,000     $750,000
25% Match = 3:1 $500,000 $166,667     $666,667
20% Match = 4:1 $500,000 $125,000     $625,000
10% Match = 9:1 $500,000 $55,555     $555,555


MATCHING GRANT: A grant awarded to an applicant with the intention of matching some of the funds (i.e., as a partial match) or all of the funds (i.e., as a total match) awarded to an applicant by another source. Also see: Challenge Grant.


MATERIALS: A cost category for consumable resources such as media (e.g., books, workbooks, digital videodisks, or software), references, and training products. The category may be conjoined with Supplies or it may be subsumed as a part of Supplies. Also see: Supplies.


MULTIYEAR BUDGET: A budget covering all or part of two or more consecutive fiscal or calendar years. Many grant makers require a budget for an entire multiyear project period at the time of the original application for a grant.


NON-COMPETITIVE GRANT: A funding program from which applicants are eligible for a grant award if they complete and submit required materials by a given deadline. Also may be called: a Budget Earmark, an Allocation Grant, an Entitlement Grant, a Formula Grant, or a Mandatory Grant.


NOVICE APPLICANT: An individual or an organization that has not obtained a discretionary grant directly from a specified unit or level of government (e.g., a federal agency) or from a specified grant program within a defined time-span (e.g., the last five fiscal years).


A later post will cover Budget Development Glossary entries from Operating Support Grant to Review Panel.


Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span Floor Amount to Hard Funds. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Floor Amount General Grant
Form 990-PF Grant
Formula Grant Grantee
Fringe Benefits Grantor
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Grant Agreement
Funding Cycle Grant Period
Funding Offer Guidelines
Funding Priorities Hard Funds


FLOOR AMOUNT: The minimum amount allowed as a grant request, often stated as the lower limit of an anticipated funding range. Also see: Ceiling Amount.


FORM 990-PF: A yearly Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form required of all private foundations (hence the -PF) that provides a public record of the financial status and grant-making activity of a private foundation. Accessible (for free) on GuideStar, the forms are useful for prospect research.


FORMULA GRANT: A non-competitive grant whose amount is established by applying a formula based upon criteria described in a law, amplified in that law’s subsequent regulations, and awarded after a yearly formal application process; it may also be called an Entitlement Grant or an Allocation Grant or a Mandatory Grant. Example: Indian Education Formula Grants to Local Education Agencies.


FRINGE BENEFITS: A cost category for non-salary and non-wage modes of staff compensation that accrue to those who qualify for them; usually stated as a percentage (%) of salaries or wages. Among examples are: health insurance; dental insurance; unemployment insurance; workers’ compensation; paid holidays; paid sick leave; paid personal leave; paid vacation days; and FICA (social security).


FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE): The financial obligation for one full-time staff member. Full-time often denotes a position that requires more than 30 hours per week. Two or more persons may split the position in the budget to add up to one full-time equivalent. FTE may be written as a percentage (stated as: % FTE) or as a specific number of hours per week.


FUNDING CYCLE: A sequence of events that starts with a formal public notice that funds are available, and includes the deadline for submission of applications, the review of applications, the award of grants, the completion of contractual documents, and the release of funds; the same sequence may recur in subsequent years if funds are available.


FUNDING OFFER: A proposal by a grant maker, in oral or written form, to award a successful applicant an amount of funding that is less than it had requested; such an offer may occur when the grant maker either does not allow certain proposed line items in an applicant’s budget or does not have enough funds to fund the project or initiative at the full amount requested.


FUNDING PRIORITY: Any one of the project-related factors that grant makers may use to award extra rating-points to otherwise-qualified applicants. Priorities may also include such non-project factors as geographic distribution of grant awards and the diversity of types of funded applicants. Many federal grant programs announce absolute priorities, competitive priorities, or invitational priorities in their requests for proposals. Also called a Funding Preference.


GENERAL GRANT: A grant designed to subsidize the organization-wide operating expenses of a worthy applicant rather than to provide support for a specific project or initiative. Also called an Operating Support Grant or an Operational Grant. Example: Facility rent and utilities.


GRANT: An award of funding for an eligible recipient to do pre-defined activities using pre-defined resources over a pre-defined time-span to achieve pre-defined objectives and advance towards one or more pre-defined goals, but whose outcomes are less certain than those expected from a contract.


GRANTEE: The organization or individual that receives the grant funds and is responsible for implementing and administering the project or initiative and managing the grant funds; it is also called a Grant Recipient. Also see: Grantor, Sub-grantee.


GRANTOR: The organization (e.g., corporation, foundation, or governmental unit) that awards grants; also called the Funder, the Funding Agency, or the Grant Maker. Also see: Grantee, Sub-grantee.


GRANT AGREEMENT: A legally binding and enforceable understanding entered into by a grant recipient with a grant maker; it is commonly based on an approved application made by the grant recipient and it commits the grant recipient to implement certain activities and pursue certain objectives, within a pre-defined time-span, for a specific amount of funding. By reference, it may incorporate other municipal or state or federal statutes and regulations beyond those enabling the grant program.


GRANT PERIOD: The total time-span for which a grant maker has committed to funding a grant recipient; it may or may not last exactly as long as a budget period or a project period. Also see: Budget Period, Project Period.


GUIDELINES: The instructions that describe what the grant maker wants to fund, what applications for funding must contain, how applications – including their budgets – must be prepared and submitted, and how proposals will be reviewed. Also see: Request for Proposals.


HARD FUNDS: A non-technical term for the funding of staff positions or other resources that support a program or initiative by using annual tax levies or similarly predictable and renewable revenues rather than by using grant funds; its character reflects the perception that such assets are more secure, over the long term, than those funded using grant funds. Also see: Soft Funds.


A later post will cover Budget Development Glossary entries from In-Kind Contribution to Novice Applicant.





Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span Demonstration Grant to Fiscal Year. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Demonstration Grant Enabling Legislation
Direct Cost Endowment Fund
Direct Services Grant Equipment
Discretionary Grant External Grant
DUNS Number Family Foundation
Earmark Federated Giving Program
Eligible Activity Fiscal Agent
Eligible Applicant Fiscal Sponsor
Eligibility Criterion Fiscal Year (FY)


DEMONSTRATION GRANT: A grant designed to help an applicant to test, prove, or establish the feasibility or effectiveness of new approaches or new types of services in solving one or more defined problems, or in addressing one or more defined needs.


DIRECT COST: A cost directly associated with operating a project and borne using funds from a grant maker. In government grants, direct costs commonly include: personnel (salaries, wages, and fringe benefits), consultants or contractual services, supplies and materials, equipment, travel, construction and renovation, and other. Foundation and corporate categories for allowable direct costs are typically fewer than government categories. Also see: Indirect Costs.


DIRECT SERVICES GRANT: A grant designed to provide services directly to a pre-defined population of beneficiaries rather than to support other purposes such as research or general operating costs. Also see: Research Grant.


DISCRETIONARY GRANT: A grant awarded to a recipient selected after a competitive review based upon the judgment of the grant maker or at the option of the grant maker. A discretionary grant program commonly involves a high ratio of applications to grant awards. In the foundation context, a discretionary grant also may be a grant awarded to a recipient based upon the judgment of a member of its board of directors or trustees or at the option of a member of its board of directors or trustees.


DUNS (DATA UNIVERSAL NUMBERING SYSTEM) NUMBER: A unique nine-digit identification number provided by Dun & Bradstreet (for free, must use Internet Explorer); it is required as an identifier for every applicant before it applies for a grant from the federal government.


EARMARK: A grant appropriated by a legislative body prior to a peer review. It specifies the applicant’s name, the activity, and the grant amount.


ELIGIBLE ACTIVITY: One of a circumscribed set of activities for which applicants can propose to spend available grant funds. Enabling state or federal legislation often explicitly defines eligible activities. Many public and private grant makers also often define them in their application guidelines or on their websites.


ELIGIBLE APPLICANT: One of several specific and defined types of organizations that may apply for funding from a specific grant program at a specific time. Types commonly include: Non-Profit Organizations, Community-Based Organizations, Faith-Based Organizations, Institutions of Higher Education, State Educational Agencies, Local Educational Agencies, and Federally Recognized American Indian Tribes, among others. Depending upon the specific grant maker and the specific grant program, individuals also are often eligible to apply for grants.


ELIGIBILITY CRITERION: One of several qualifying factors that a potential applicant must satisfy before it seeks a grant; often it pertains to the type of individual or organization as an applicant or to the population or geographic area to benefit from a grant.


ENABLING LEGISLATION: A law, enacted at any level of government (e.g., city, borough, county, parish, state, federal), which creates and defines one or more grant programs.


ENDOWMENT FUND: An account of funds set up to be invested in perpetuity to provide income for the continuous support of a non-profit organization. Some foundations will award grants for endowments.


EQUIPMENT: A cost category for durable resources requested in a budget; generally, each discrete item of equipment lasts more than a defined period of time (e.g., one year or three years) and costs more than a defined minimum amount (e.g., $500 or $5,000). Definitions of equipment in terms of durability and minimum cost vary widely among grant makers. Also see: Supplies.


EXTERNAL GRANT: A grant awarded to the applicant by any source other than the applicant itself. Example: For a school district, sources of such external grants include the local community foundation, the state educational agency, and the federal educational agency.


FAMILY FOUNDATION: An independent, private foundation that the members of a single family fund and maintain. Example: Walton Family Foundation.


FEDERATED GIVING PROGRAM: A collaborative fundraising effort usually administered by a supervising nonprofit organization that in turn distributes the funds generated through that effort as grants to other nonprofit organizations. Example: Tulsa Area United Way.


FISCAL AGENT: An organization that has legal accountability for managing a grant award, for expending its funds, and for reporting on grant expenditures.


FISCAL SPONSOR: A third-party organization that agrees to serve as the fiscal agent for a grant on behalf of an applicant or a consortium of applicants; some grant makers will permit use of a fiscal sponsor, others will not.


FISCAL YEAR (FY): A 12-month period at the end of which the financial accounts are closed for the organization in question. Common fiscal years are: October 1 through September 30 (federal), July 1 through June 30 (states), and January 1 through December 31 (foundations). Organization-wide financial audits commonly occur after the end of each fiscal year.


A later post will cover Budget Development Glossary entries from Floor Amount to Hard Funds.

Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span Capacity to Declining Funding. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Capacity Concept Paper
Capacity-Building Grant Construction
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Consultants
Categorical Grant Contact Person
Ceiling Amount Continuation Grant
CFDA Number Contractual
Challenge Grant Corporate Grant
Commitment Cost Categories
Community Foundation Cost Sharing
Competitive Grant Declining Funding
Competitive Priority  


CAPACITY: A measure of an applicant’s present and future ability to implement and sustain an initiative or project that it has proposed for external grant funding.


CAPACITY-BUILDING GRANT: (1) A grant designed to create or expand an applicant’s ability to provide services – often of a magnitude and scope similar to those funded through a proposed grant – after that grant expires. (2) A grant intended to create or expand an applicant’s ability to operate more effectively or more efficiently or more sustainably.


CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE (CFDA): The former compendium of all domestic grant programs and other forms of assistance for all federal agencies in the United States of America; its program descriptions provided critical information for potential applicants for federal grants. Also see: Assistance Listings and CFDA Number.


CATEGORICAL GRANT: A grant awarded by a federal agency to an eligible entity, such as a unit of state or local government, for a specific purpose, as defined by law or regulation.


CEILING AMOUNT: The maximum amount allowed as a grant request, often stated as the upper limit of an anticipated funding range. Also see: Floor Amount.


CFDA NUMBER: A unique five-digit code for each federal funding program; it includes a unique two-digit prefix code for the specific federal agency, a dot or point, and a unique three-digit code for each specific funding program. Example: All grants from the United States Department of Education are coded as 84.XXX. Example: Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant Program is CFDA 84.336S. Also see: Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).


CHALLENGE GRANT: A grant from a single source intended to lead to further grants from other sources by committing the grant maker to award a grant only if the applicant raises the balance of funds from other sources within a certain pre-defined time period.


COMMITMENT: A measure of an applicant’s present and future internal investment of its own resources – both cash and in-kind – in an initiative or project that it proposes for external grant funding.


COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: A charitable organization that awards grants in a specific community or geographic region. In general, community foundations receive funds from many donors, maintain them in multiple endowments, and use the endowments’ income to fund grant awards. Example: Greater Houston Community Foundation.


COMPETITIVE GRANT: A grant from a program in which eligible applicants submit proposals, the grant maker reviews, rates, and ranks the proposals, and the highest ranked proposals are funded down a list of applicants, usually until available funds are exhausted.


COMPETITIVE PRIORITY: An area of focus which a grant maker would prefer to see as part of an applicant’s proposal; it may affect the rating or the rank ordering of proposals either by the award of additional scoring points or by its use as a tie-breaker. Also see:Absolute Priority, Invitational Priority.


CONCEPT PAPER: A short variant of a full-length grant application, often only two or three pages long, that may be used or required for applicants seeking a corporate or foundation grant. At the least, it should include a problem statement, a program narrative, and a budget.


CONSTRUCTION: A cost category for the materials used in creating or modifying the facilities where some or all of a project’s activities will take place; by contrast, construction labor itself is a contractual budget line item. Some grant programs disallow construction line items.


CONSULTANT: An individual or organization that provides paid professional advice or services to support a grant-funded project or initiative, but which is not in the employ of the grant recipient or its partners; some grant makers use Consultants as a distinct cost category.


CONTACT PERSON: A person or persons of whom a grant maker may ask questions about the content, nature, and scope of an applicant’s proposal. Examples: The proposed project’s Principal Investigator or Project Director or the applicant’s Executive Director.


CONTINUATION GRANT: A grant of additional funding awarded for one or more budget periods following the initial budget period of a multiyear discretionary grant; its award may require the applicant to demonstrate adequate progress towards accomplishing objectives during a current funding period.


CONTRACTUAL: A cost category for services to be provided by independent contractors in implementing a project. Contractors may be organizations or individuals. Such budget items may include: evaluators, trainers, consultants, partner subcontracts, and many other external providers of services; they may also include contracts for the rental or lease of facilities or equipment or similar resources.


CORPORATE GRANT: A charitable grant awards program funded by a for-profit business or corporation; it may be independent of the corporation and it may have its own endowment. Example: Royal Dutch Shell offers several types of local grants for community, education, and environment.


COST CATEGORIES: The set of primary types of line items presented in a project budget. Common categories for government grants are: Personnel; Fringe Benefits; Contractual; Travel; Supplies; Equipment; Construction; Other; and Indirect Costs. Categories for foundation grants are typically fewer; they may be as few as only Personnel and Non-Personnel.


COST SHARING: An applicant’s contribution to the costs of a grant-funded project or initiative beyond any matching that may be required by law or regulation. Also see: Matching Funds.


DECLINING FUNDING: An amount of grant funding that decreases from year to year during a multiyear grant period. Also see: Level Funding, Zero Funding.


A later post will cover Budget Development Glossary entries from Demonstration Grant to Fiscal Year.


Knowing the language of budget development is essential for writing proposals that win grants. Entries here span Absolute Priority to Building Renovation Grant. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Absolute Priority Award
Activity Award Notification
Allowable Cost Budget
Annual Performance Report (APR) Budget Item
Applicant Budget Justification
Application Budget Narrative
Assistance Listings Budget Period
Assurance Building Renovation Grant


ABSOLUTE PRIORITY: An area of focus that a government agency, as a grant maker, requires without exception as part of an applicant’s proposal, and that, if it is absent, prevents a proposal from being reviewed, scored, or ranked. It is one of three common types of government agency funding priorities. Also see: Competitive Priority, Invitational Priority.


ACTIVITY: One of a logical sequence of actions or steps to be undertaken to accomplish one or more project objectives by applying specific identified resources and strategies to solve a problem or to meet a need within a pre-defined span of time. Also see: Objective.


ALLOCATION: A specific amount of funding that an applicant proposes or requests for each line item in each cost category in its budget.


ALLOWABLE COST: Any one of the cost categories or discrete line items that a grant maker permits or encourages or requires an applicant to include as part of a proposed budget. Also see: Unallowable Cost.


ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT (APR): A yearly document that a grant recipient submits (often online) to a grant maker, as required; commonly, it includes a description of project accomplishments, a statement of progress towards attaining project objectives, and project budget information. It may also discuss obstacles to successful implementation and past or future steps or actions to overcome them. It is also called an Annual Report.


APPLICANT: The organization or individual that seeks a grant by submitting a proposal (or an application) for funding. It will be legally responsible for properly managing the funding if a grant is awarded. Also see: Fiscal Agent.


APPLICATION: The total formal document or package that an applicant submits to a grant maker. It describes a proposed project and its budget, and it usually forms the basis for a grant award; often used as a synonym for Proposal.


ASSISTANCE LISTINGS: A relatively new, searchable list of all domestic grant programs and other forms of assistance for all federal agencies in the United States of America; its program descriptions present information of interest to potential applicants for federal grants. Also see: Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.


ASSURANCE: A legally binding declaration, signed by an applicant and commonly included with its application, which certifies that the applicant already does comply with specific requirements of a grant maker and/or will comply with them if a grant is awarded.


AWARD: A specific amount of grant funding; often called a Funding Award or a Grant Award.


AWARD NOTIFICATION: A formal, written, physical document that a grant maker typically mails to an applicant; it informs the applicant that it will receive a grant, and it indicates the amount of the grant award and the start and end dates of the grant period. It is also called a Grant Award Notification (GAN) or a Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) or a Notice of Award (NOA).


BUDGET: (1) The total estimated cost of all project activities. (2) A plan for expending funds in a grant award. A budget often may incorporate both revenues (also called income) and expenditures.


BUDGET ITEM: A single element in a proposed budget; it includes a brief description and an amount requested per project year. Also see: Line Item.


BUDGET JUSTIFICATION: A brief description or explanation defending items in a proposed budget, particularly all of those items that peer reviewers may find questionable.


BUDGET NARRATIVE: A brief description or explanation of some or all of the line items in a proposed budget; it is often used as another term for a Budget Justification.


BUDGET PERIOD: The time-span that any given budget covers, usually any 12 consecutive months, such as a grant maker’s fiscal year. Also see: Grant Period, Project Period.


BUILDING RENOVATION GRANT: A grant of funds intended to be used to repair, renew, or construct one or more buildings or parts of buildings; informally, it is also called a Bricks and Mortar Grant.


A later post will cover Budget Development Glossary entries from Capacity to Declining Funding.


Knowing the language of proposal development is essential for writing a winning grant proposal. Entries here span RASCI Chart to Vision. Their context is North America.


Below are the glossary terms in this post:


RASCI Chart State Educational Agency (SEA)
Red Team Review Summative Evaluation
Replicability SWOT Analysis
Reliability Target Population
Research Team
Result Timeline
Staff Validity
Staffing Plan Vision


RASCI CHART: A form of responsibility matrix that clarifies roles and responsibilities for tasks and deliverables within a project team. In a RASCI chart, R = Responsible, A = Accountable, S = Supportive, C = Consulted, and I = Informed. It is a useful tool for a Staffing Plan.


RED TEAM REVIEW: An applicant’s self-imposed internal review process where ateam rates and comments upon pre-submittal grant proposals in terms of the attributes of coherence, completeness, consistency, compliance, and correctness.


RELIABILITY: The extent to which a scale yields consistent or stable results if the same measurement is repeated a number of times. Among types of statistical reliability are: internal, external, test-retest, inter-rater, parallel forms, and split-half. Reliability coefficients are used to determine degree of similarity of results (i.e., the range of variance) using the same scale. The range of correlation for reliability coefficients is 0 to 1. The higher the correlation, the more reliable is the scale; desirable levels start at 0.85+ for high-stakes measures, and 0.70+ for low-stakes measures. The Buros Mental Measurements Yearbooks are a useful source of technical reviews for more than 3,000 scales. Also see:Validity.


REPLICABILITY: The proven or predicted ability of a project’s effective activities and strategies to be transportable to another setting and to generate similar results in it; it is a factor in considering the potential impact of an initial grant award and it is a criterion often associated with grant programs that fund demonstration projects.


RESEARCH: An organized effort to add to the existing knowledge base of an established or emerging discipline in the area of theory or application or both. Alternatively, the search for epistemologically valid and reliable evidence that implementing one or more of an applicant’s proposed activities or strategies is likely to yield the desired outcomes and impacts.


RESULT: A measurable consequence of implementing a project or initiative, but not necessarily the intended and anticipated focus of an objective or a goal. Examples: Improved academic achievement in an arts enrichment project; increased property values in a graffiti abatement project; improved school readiness in a family engagement program.


STAFF: The person or persons who carry out a project using grant funds, and those who support it using other funds; also may be called Personnel. Also see: Personnel and Staffing Plan.


STAFFING PLAN: The scheme, method, or approach for deploying persons having appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities (or required qualifications and experience) to do the work of a project or initiative. Also see: Key Personnel, Personnel.


STATE EDUCATIONAL AGENCY (SEA): A state-level unit of government, such as a board of education or other agency, or a state officer, responsible primarily for the supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools in a state. It is a type of eligible applicant for grants. Also see:Local Educational Agency.


SUMMATIVE EVALUATION: The measurement of the extent or degree of success of a project or initiative; it offers conclusions about what worked (and what did not) and it makes recommendations about what to keep, what to change, and what to discontinue; it occurs at the end of each project year and after the grant-funded project ends. Also called Outcome Evaluation or Product Evaluation. Also see: Formative Evaluation.


SWOT ANALYSIS: An analysis that looks at internal and external factors that form the present context or milieu of a proposed project or initiative. In a SWOT analysis, Strength = S, Weakness = W, Opportunity = O, and Threat = T. It is a useful tool for Needs Assessments and Evaluation Plans.


TARGET POPULATION: The persons, groups, subgroups, or entities intended to participate in a project or initiative and/or to benefit from it. Applicants should exercise discretion and sensitivity in adopting the phrase in certain contexts (e.g., violence prevention). Also see: Beneficiary, Participant.


TEAM: A group of persons who work as a unit towards a common or shared purpose related to a project or initiative. A team may include persons paid with non-grant funds and persons affiliated with organizations other than the applicant or grant recipient. Also see: Partner.


TIMELINE: The detailed overall sequence, schedule, or timetable anticipated for implementing a project or initiative. It may present both discrete events and continuous processes. It also may include an illustrative chart or a table. Also see: Gantt Chart, Milestone.


VALIDITY: The extent to which a scale measures what it claims to measure. Among types of statistical validity are: predictive, postdictive, population, ecological, concurrent, face, criterion validity, internal, external, construct, content, and factorial. The range of correlation for the validity coefficient is 0 to 1. The higher the correlation, the more valid is the scale; commonly, validity coefficients range only from 0 to 0.50. The Buros Mental Measurements Yearbooks are a useful source of technical reviews for more than 3,000 scales. Also see: Reliability.


VISION: A clear and concise statement of an applicant’s purpose, values, and aspirations for its mid-term or long-term future, presented as its inspiration or motivation for what it does in the present. In a proposal, an applicant commonly links its organizational vision to its Work Plan and to the grant maker’s purposes for making grants. Also see: Mission.


This post concludes a five-part Glossary of Proposal Development. It is a companion to a seven-part Glossary of Budget Development and a two-part Glossary of Evaluation Plans.


Knowing the language of proposal development is essential for writing a winning grant proposal. Entries here span Outcome to Program Design. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Outcome Plan of Action
Output Preliminary Proposal
Participant Principal Investigator
Partner Problem
Partnership Professional Development
Personnel Program Design
PESTLE Analysis  


OUTCOME: The desired and intended quantitative or qualitative end result or consequence of a set of activities undertaken to accomplish one or more objectives. It is often used as a measurement of effect rather than of effort. Examples: 75% reduction in school expulsions; 25% reduction in high school dropout rates; 25% increase in Advanced Placement course enrollments; 20% decrease in body mass index; 50% reduction in motor vehicle thefts; 20% decrease in pedestrian crosswalk fatalities.


OUTPUT: A tangible or quantifiable direct product of an activity. It is often used as a measurement of effort rather than of effect. Examples: Four new geography units; ten bilingual education workshops; six program newsletters; 2400 home visits; four credit-awarding webinars; a new health sciences kit.


PARTICIPANT: Someone directly and actively involved in a project or initiative as one who is served by it or who otherwise benefits from it. Examples: Chemistry teachers; adjudicated juveniles; English learners; first graders; children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder; elderly residents.


PARTNER: An individual or organization that contributes resources to a grant-funded project or initiative, often by a formal and legally enforceable agreement delineating responsibilities and commitments between or among the entities involved in it.


PARTNERSHIP: Two or more individuals or organizations, working with each other under an often formal and legally enforceable agreement to accomplish the objectives and attain the goals of a grant-funded project or initiative, and often contributing cash or in-kind resources or both towards its budget.


PERSONNEL: The persons who provide the human labor to implement or support activities designed to accomplish the objectives of a project or initiative. Some or many of the personnel, but seldom all, may be paid out of grant funds. Also see: Key Personnel, Staff,Staffing Plan.


PESTLE ANALYSIS: An analysis that examines external factors that form the context of a project or initiative. In PESTLE analysis, P = political factors, E = economic factors, S = social factors, T = technological factors, L = legal factors, and E = environmental factors. It is a useful tool for a Needs Assessment and an Evaluation Plan. Also see: SWOT Analysis.


PLAN OF ACTION: The specific series of activities or steps to be undertaken during a project or initiative, as well as its goals, objectives, timeline, personnel, and resources. Also called a Program Design or a Work Plan or an Action Plan.


PRELIMINARY PROPOSAL: A partial proposal, having some but not all elements of a complete proposal such as a plan of action and a budget, submitted to a grant maker for a review to determine whether it merits subsequent submission as a complete proposal. Also called a Pre-Proposal. Also see: Full Proposal.


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: The person who leads or directs a grant-funded research project, particularly in federally funded scientific or medical research grants; also known as a PI. Also see: Project Director.


PROBLEM: The specific reason for proposing a grant-funded project or initiative, which offers a promising solution to the problem. Example: A dropout rate higher than the state average. Applicants must avoid circular reasoning in defining problems. Example: A lack, an absence, a shortage, or a scarcity, in and of itself, is not a problem; however, one or more of its consequences or effects may represent one. Also see: Need.


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: A method of continuously improving the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities of a defined group of participants; or a method of enhancing or increasing the formal qualifications or credentials of a defined group of participants. Participants in it often may include a project’s key personnel. Also may be called Training or Staff Training or Staff Development.


PROGRAM DESIGN: A specific, time-bounded plan for implementing a project or initiative including goals, objectives, activities, timeline, and strategies. Also called an Action Plan or a Plan of Action or a Work Plan.


PROJECT: The specific proposed program or plan of action for which grant funds are being requested. A project has a definite start date and a definite end date, and it has an explicitly defined and time-bound set of desired outcomes.


PROJECT COORDINATOR: The person who manages and implements a project under the auspices or supervision of a Project Director or a similar administrator. Coordination is often a desirable role for personnel when a project or initiative targets multiple sites or features multiple components or involves many partners. Also see: Project Director, Principal Investigator.


PROJECT DIRECTOR: The person who leads or directs a grant-funded project and ensures that the project complies with all conditions and regulations, particularly in training, educational, and model demonstration projects. Also may be called a Project Manager. Also see: Principal investigator, Project Coordinator.


A later post will cover Proposal Development Glossary entries from RASCI Chart to Vision.


Knowing the language of proposal development is essential for writing a winning grant proposal. Entries here span Key Personnel to Organizational History. Their context is North America.


Below is a list of glossary terms in this post:


Key Personnel Need
Logic Model Needs Assessment
Local Educational Agency (LEA) Non-Profit Organization (NPO)
Management Plan Objective
Meta-Analysis Organization
Milestone Organizational Chart
Mission Organizational History


KEY PERSONNEL: (1) The persons or positions critical to the success of a project or initiative.  Examples:  Project Directors or Principal Investigators. (2) Key personnel may include those paid with non-grant funds as well as those paid with grant funds. Examples: Classroom Teachers or Health Clinicians. Also see: Personnel, Staff, Staffing Plan.


LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY (LEA): A public authority established under state law to administer, direct, or perform a service function for public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, school district, or other political subdivision of a state, or any combination of school districts or other entities that a state recognizes as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools. It is a type of eligible applicant for grants. Example: Portland Public Schools. Also see: Institution of Higher Education (IHE), State Educational Agency (LEA).


LOGIC MODEL: A schematic or graphical representation, often presented as a flow chart or as a table, which shows how inputs and activities interact and lead to outputs, outcomes, and impacts. Example: A table that presents goals, objectives, key activities, key personnel, evaluation measures, a timeline, and associated costs – all in one synoptic document.


MANAGEMENT PLAN: An applicant’s proposed schemes, methods, or procedures for deploying its key personnel and for ensuring that it uses its fiscal and programmatic resources in ways consistent with its funded proposal. Often includes an illustrative chart. Also see: Organizational Chart.


META-ANALYSIS: A statistical analysis of a number of separate but similar scientific studies or experiments, as available in the existing literature, in order to ascertain the statistical significance and practical significance of the combined data. Used to evaluate evidence across multiple published and unpublished studies or experiments to determine the effect sizes of interventions and to ascertain which interventions work best. Methods place available data in context, and are useful for a proposal’s Problem Statement, Research Review, and Evaluation Plan. Also see: Effect Size, Practical Significance, Statistical Significance.


MILESTONE: A discrete event or specific accomplishment used to measure the progress or momentum of a project or initiative towards implementing its activities, accomplishing its objectives, and attaining its goals. Also see: Benchmark.


MISSION: A succinct statement of why, for whom, and what an applicant does in order to lead to a desired mid-term or long-term future state of affairs. In a proposal, an applicant commonly links its organizational mission to its Work Plan. Also see: Vision.


NARRATIVE: The body of an application or a proposal describing what is to be done, how it is to be done, why it is to be done, who is to do it and where, when and how often it is to be done, at what cost it is to be done, who will ensure that it gets done, who will measure its success, and how that success will be measured and reported. Also may be called an Application Narrative or a Proposal Narrative.


NEED: A definable and often quantifiable situation or trend, usually perceived as negative or undesirable, that an applicant proposes to address in its project or initiative. Applicants’ descriptions of need must avoid circular reasoning (e.g., the mere absence of a resource does not prove the presence of a need) and must avoid presenting needs beyond the capacity of a single grant to improve or eliminate them. Also see: Problem.


NEEDS ASSESSMENT: A narrative review of a condition or state of affairs that an applicant seeks to change with the assistance of the resources afforded by a grant award. It is often presented with abundant descriptive ad comparative data. Also see: Problem Statement.


NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION (NPO): An organization, designated as nonprofit when it was created, which pursues charitable purposes, as recognized under tax laws; it may take any of several legal forms and it distributes no part of its income to its officers, directors, or members. It is a type of eligible applicant for grants. Example: Catholic Charities of Maine.


OBJECTIVE: A time-bound statement, framed in specific, attainable, and measurable terms, of what an applicant is going to accomplish during a project or initiative; it advances the project or initiative towards attaining its goal or goals. Objectives are indispensable and critical elements in a Work Plan or a Plan of Action or a Program Design. Example: Each project year, 90% or more of project participants will demonstrate statistically significant gains (p< .05) in English literacy, as measured by state-mandated assessments.


ORGANIZATION: A generic and non-technical term for a legally established entity that is eligible to seek, manage, and expend a grant award, either alone or in a partnership with one or more other organizations or individuals or both.


ORGANIZATIONAL CHART: A graphic device depicting the staff positions involved in a project or initiative, the flow of communication between and among them, and their connections to other key staff in an organization or a partnership. Many of the positions may be paid using funds other than those of the grant being sought. Also see: Management Plan.


ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY: A brief chronological summation or narrative account of the primary milestones, accomplishments, and unique attributes of an organization.


A later post will cover Proposal Development Glossary entries from Outcome to Program Design.



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