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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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Trends influence grant opportunities immensely. Active seekers of competitive grants must be aware of broad social, political, and economic trends that impact their ability to obtain funding. Some trends are new; others persist. This post explores the trends of technology, logic models, accountability, and diversity.

 

Trends Graphic 3

 

Technology

 

Many grant makers encourage innovative projects for appropriate uses of established and emerging technologies in virtually every sector of public life. They seldom choose to fund the technologies directly; instead, they prefer to fund the perceived benefits or impacts that accrue from using them to solve well-defined problems. Be aware that some funders do adopt a more skeptical view – they may decline proposals for overly technology-intensive projects.

 

Among fruitful technology strategies are:

  • Focus on benefits of using a technology, not on the technology itself
  • Address any need to train users of the technology before deploying it
  • Offer thorough justifications for technology budget line items
  • Link requested technologies to a project’s goals and objectives
  • Use scientific research literature to justify selections of technologies

 

Logic Models

 

The presence of logic models is increasingly expected as part of more complex grant proposals. Its use is also expected to guide a project’s implementation and evaluation phases. The basic elements of logic models focus both on the present (inputs, activities) and future (outputs, outcomes). Both public and private grant makers may require inclusion and use of a logic model.

 

Among useful logic models strategies are:

  • Develop a logic model for use in planning a proposed project
  • Use tables and/or flow charts as graphics to illustrate narrative descriptions
  • Try to capture the entire logic model on a single page
  • Be aware that not every project type lends itself to a simple linear sequential graphic as its logic model
  • Consider the logic model as a guide for implementation, monitoring, and evaluation

 

Accountability

 

Most funders expect grant recipients to be accountable for the programmatic results and financial expenditures of their projects. Applicants must plan to demonstrate and report measurable results. In the public sector, agencies use such results, aggregated across a program, to decide its longevity and its future levels of legislated appropriations.

 

Among appropriate accountability strategies are:

  • Propose ambitious but attainable project objectives
  • Use monitoring and evaluation to measure and track progress and outcomes
  • Plan to incorporate GPRA and GPRMA performance indicators
  • Treat evaluation as a high-priority aspect of effective implementation
  • Work with the grant maker as a partner to ensure successful project outcomes

 

Diversity

 

Public and private grant makers resonate with contemporary demographic trends. They weigh an applicant’s awareness of and responsiveness to such trends. Many programs focus on narrowly defined special populations such as disabilities, linguistic or cultural minorities, or areas experiencing high levels of violence or poverty. Many funders favor proposals with personnel plans that reflect the diversity of populations to be served. And finally, they also look for well-delineated plans to deliver services in culturally responsive and culturally competent ways.

 

Among prudent diversity strategies are:

  • Describe staff qualifications in the context of the diversity to be served
  • Offer a plan to address specific needs of special populations
  • Present context and data to characterize the special populations
  • Provide evidence of demographic diversity in personnel plans
  • Use literature reviews to identify best practices for working with special populations

 

This is the third of a series on trends in grant making. As a grant writer and/or a grant seeker, you may discern others, or you may discern counter-trends. If so, don’t hesitate to comment.

 

 

 

 

Trends directly affect the results of grant seeking. Active seekers of competitive grants must be aware of broad social, political, and economic trends that impact their ability to obtain funding. Some trends are new; others persist. This post explores the trends of cost sharing, community engagement, research, and training.

 

Trends Graphic 2

 

Cost Sharing

 

Grant makers consistently expect evidence of an applicant’s investment in or commitment to its proposed project. Cost sharing expectations may be explicit or implied, optional or required. Required shared cost ratios of 4:1, 3:1, 2:1, even 1:1 are common. Local cost sharing can demonstrate broad-based community support for problem-solving strategies an applicant proposes to use.

 

Among useful cost sharing strategies are:

  • Observe at least the minimum cost sharing ratios required
  • Select cost sharing items whose values can be documented well
  • Identify specific cost sharing commitments and amounts in letters of commitment
  • Build resources for use in cost sharing through partnerships and collaboration

 

Community Engagement

 

Many competitive grant programs encourage authentic, measurable, and sustained involvement of families and community groups in planning, implementing, and evaluating a project. Vigorous community engagement can improve the long-term sustainability and support for an initially grant-funded project or initiative. Both public and private grant makers often require documentation of the nature and extent of such community engagement.

 

Among helpful community engagement strategies are:

  • Design programs around forms of community engagement
  • Ensure active community participation in developing grant proposals
  • Offer alternative ways for community members to participate
  • Use multiple channels to invite public participation in grant-related activities

 

Research

 

Both public and private grant makers demand a robust research-based rationale for the strategies an applicant proposes. Applicants for projects involving direct services, as well as those for model, demonstration, and research-oriented projects must show that they will integrate or apply best practices in doing what they propose to do.

 

Among prudent research strategies are:

 

  • Create an on-hand research base for use in anticipated proposals
  • Do a thorough literature search well before you need a review of it for a proposal
  • Use scientific and statistical research studies and meta-analyses
  • Use local, state, and national plans, reports, and white papers as resources

 

Training

 

Many grant makers expect applicants to budget for human resource development or to demonstrate that qualifications of staff and other participants eliminate the need for it. Be aware that, in some circles, such terms as “family education”, “parental involvement”, “staff development”, and “professional development” all may carry more positive connotations than mere “training.” In such situations, always adopt the language that proposal reviewers may expect or prefer. Consider a request for proposals (RFP) as a guide to the funder’s and reviewers’ language preferences.

 

Among effective training strategies are:

  • Collect vitae and resumes for potential use in future proposals
  • Adopt the grant maker’s alternate term of choice in writing about “training”
  • Do local needs assessments to support plans to conduct “training”
  • Review and apply the research literature about what works in doing “training”

 

This is the second in a series on trends in grant making. As a grant writer and/or a grant seeker, you may discern others, or you may discern counter-trends. If so, don’t hesitate to comment.

 

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