From the GrantSpace blog, January 9, 2017

By Cheryl Kester

One of the questions we get asked most often is how to find federal funding opportunities. People really want to know how to find out about funding opportunities before they are announced in the Federal Register or on Grants.gov. If you wait until the announcement comes out to start working on your proposal, you will be at a big disadvantage.                                                                      government-grants_medium

Here are some tips to help you stay informed of funding opportunities so you can plan proactively.

 1.  Search the websites of agencies likely to fit your mission

Almost every federal agency that makes grants now has a “grants” button on its website. Visit the websites of those agencies most likely to fund the type of work you do and search for grants. Make sure to do more than just read up on which grants are currently “open,” which means that proposals for that grant are due soon.

Dig around and search the website for “grants forecast.” Some agencies announce all of their deadlines for the next year via a forecast. Also pay attention to previously awarded grants. These can give good clues as to possible future deadlines. Put together a list of grant programs you want to watch. If you are lucky, the website will announce when the next competition for that program is expected. But even if it doesn’t, you can often figure that out yourself by reviewing the lists of awarded grants.

2.  Find out which programs are recurring

Some program grants have been around for decades. Almost everyone has heard of programs like Head Start or Upward Bound. Check the history of how often the deadline comes around, and you can predict when the next applications will be due. Some programs, like Upward Bound, allow organizations to reapply during every funding cycle to keep the same program going, serving the same people.

Others, like some health care grants, may come out every two to three years, but they are for one-time projects. If you are allowed to reapply for a second grant in that program, you are expected to serve a different population or deliver a different program. Regardless, being aware of the “normal” schedules for recurring grant programs helps you plan out your application calendar.

3.  Talk to your congressional delegation

No matter which party is in office, and no matter whether Congress has passed a budget, your representatives and Senators can be valuable sources of information on potential funding opportunities. Either visit while you are in D.C. or request an appointment when your legislator will be back in his or her home district.

The purpose of your meeting is not to ask for a grant, but rather to inform the legislator of the good work your organization is accomplishing in his or her home district. Your representative and Senators can often alert you to upcoming bills that may have grant funds accompanying them. They cannot influence the awarding of grants, nor can they “get you a grant.”

4.  Search official government websites yourself

There are two completely free websites operated by the federal government, and with a little practice, you can search them effectively. They each have their own purpose. When it started, Grants.gov was mostly designed to receive and process grant applications. Today it also offers a search function, which is always improving.

However, Grants.gov lists specific grants that are open for competition. In contrast, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (cfda.gov) provides a list of all grant funded programs, no matter when the deadline occurs. Both sites are searchable. If you are new to doing this type of research, it may be a little less cumbersome to begin with the CFDA.

A search on CFDA can lead you to the grant program’s description, budget allocations, agency contact person, and possibly anticipated deadlines. In 2016, some agencies began to put their “forecasted” grants onto Grants.gov, but this is still a developing feature. Grants.gov also allows you to subscribe to notifications. You will receive a notification by email when a grant deadline in your field is announced. This is a free service.

5.  Subscribe to a Paid Product

You can subscribe to a paid searchable database of federal grants or you can subscribe to newsletters or other products that notify you of funding opportunities. Some of the newsletter products have staff based on Capitol Hill and may be able to alert you to upcoming funding opportunities. Stay away from subscriptions that do nothing more than send you the free alerts you can already get from Grants.gov.

Most of paid databases get their information from the same free sites you can search. Examine carefully to make sure you are accessing a reputable site (either those ending in .gov or from an organization you already know and trust). Paid databases that are done well have invested in making the searching easier than it is on the government sites. These can save you time. Stay away from sites that promise to “get you a grant” or that promise “free” grants to a certain population (women, veterans, business owners) if you just pay them instead.

There is always some shifting of grant dollars when an administration changes, and there is no guarantee that things that used to be funded will continue to be funded. However, these research strategies will serve you well no matter which party controls the purse strings.



CHERYL KESTER (CRFE), is Principal of The Kester Group and co-author of Writing to Win Federal Grants: A Must-Have for Your Fundraising Toolbox. She has more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and has been a grants professional since 1999. Today, her firm specializes in winning federal grants and serving as an external evaluator.

impact lv

Impact Las Vegas opens up 2017 funding to all local nonprofit organizations who have been in operation for a minimum of 24 months and have an operating budget sufficient to confirm the organization’s ability to manage the project or program.

For more information, see: http://www.impact-lv.org/grants

Who is eligible to receive a grant from Impact Las Vegas?

To qualify for an Impact Las Vegas grant, an organization must be classified as a “public charity” with tax-exempt status under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509 (a) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, operate within and provide services in Southern Nevada (or be a recognized chapter of a State, regional, or national nonprofit serving this area). The full amount of the grant must be used within 24 months to fund a project or program that targets a specific population for a specific duration and with specific measureable goals.


What types of grants will Impact Las Vegas fund?

Impact Las Vegas will fund project or program grants in five areas of focus:

  • CultureInitiatives, projects or programs that cultivate, develop and enhance the cultural and/or artistic climate in Southern Nevada.
  • EducationInitiatives, projects, or programs that further the educational process or improve access to education for children and/or adult residents of Southern Nevada.
  • EnvironmentInitiatives, projects or programs that aim to preserve or improve natural resources, encourage conservation, and/or that restore, preserve, revitalize or enhance historical facilities or surroundings of the Southern Nevada area.
  • FamilyInitiatives, projects or programs that strengthen and enhance the lives of children and families in the Southern Nevada area.
  • Health & WellnessInitiatives, projects or programs that improve the mental and/or physical well-being of people living in Southern Nevada.

Types of programs that do not qualify include general operating expenses, partisan or legislative activities, political lobbying, debt reduction, individual churches or bodies of worship, or religious organizations where the sole or primary focus is proselytizing and endowment or annual fund drives.


What is the grant application process?

Impact Las Vegas has a four-step application process. Organizations must be invited by Impact Las Vegas to continue with the application process after Step One.

Step One – Submit A Letter of Inquiry

Each applicant must complete the Letter of Inquiry (LOI) Form and submit via e-mail to grants@impact-lv.org along with a copy of the organization’s IRS determination letter confirming the organization’s nonprofit status.

Please provide the following additional information, not to exceed two pages, typed in no less than 10 point font for items 1 through 5.

  1. Mission statement of your organization.
  2. Summary of your organization’s primary programs/projects in support of your mission.
  3. Description of proposed project or program to be funded by this grant, including target populations, number of individuals you expect to impact with this program/project.
  4. Explain if this is a new project/program or the expansion of an existing one. If it is an expansion, please elaborate how the grant will be used.
  5. Acknowledge the requirement that the project/program must use the entire grant award within 24 months.
  6. Copy of your organization’s IRS tax-exempt determination letter

Submitting Your Completed Grant Letter of Inquiry

Please combine the Grant Letter of Inquiry Form, additional information, and copy of IRS determination letter into one PDF file and attach it to your submittal e-mail.  This completed Letter of Inquiry may only be submitted via e-mail to grants@impact-lv.org.  No paper copies will be accepted.

Please put LOI and the focus area you have selected in the subject line of the e-mail. (For example, LOI-Education or LOI-Health & Wellness)

Letters of Inquiry will be acknowledged electronically. Late submissions will not be considered.

The 2017 Grant Letter of Inquiry (LOI) must be received by 5:00 p.m.,
Monday, February 13, 2017

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