Grant funding can be used for a variety of purposes including program and service delivery, research, and training. Government grant funding is intended to either serve a large number of people or develop processes that can be scaled up to impact a large geographic area. Funding is offered from all levels of government and available to individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
Individuals can apply for federal government grant funding as long as individuals are listed as eligible applicants on the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). Typically, individuals are able to apply for specific types of government grant funding such as research grants through the National Science Foundation (NSF) or research and development funds through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.
Other federal grant programs require the applicant to be either a for-profit or non-profit organization, depending on the specific program. Universities and colleges are also eligible applicants for many federal grant programs. Even churches can apply for grant funding from the federal government.
State government grant funding has equally specific eligibility requirements. Grants are usually designated for for-profit and nonprofit organizations or even partnerships between the two. Generally, grants are intended to produce wide ranging benefits rather than for individual agency use.
Local government grant funding is designated for organizations that serve that community. Partnerships between local groups and outside organizations may be funded if the outcome sufficiently addresses a community need. In these situations, it is always a good idea to get prior approval from the grant officer to submit a proposal that includes a non-local partner. Any deviation from the Request for Proposals (RFP) requirements can jeopardize submitted proposals.
Grant funding processes may have a cone of silence requirement. This means that applicants cannot contact grant program staff directly to ask questions. All questions must be submitted electronically to ensure there is no outside influence on grant award decisions. Each question, along with the answer, will be posted by the grant program to afford equal access to information by all applicants. This is a common technique used by government grant funding programs. It adds a level of fairness to the grant process.
When developing a proposal, applicants should consider the intent of grant programs as well as the actual NOFA or RFP language. This will help ensure a proposal is fully responsive and increase your chances of being funded. Some organizations hire professional grant writers to help create proposals.