FAQs

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Does an organization have to be a not-for-profit to apply for a grant?

Yes, the organization must be a not-for-profit to apply for a foundation grant. Foundations will routinely ask for a copy of the organization’s tax-exempt letter. Federal grants eligibility is a different matter, and a for-profit organization may be eligible to apply.


Are faith-based organizations eligible to apply for grants?

Yes, as long the organization does not discriminate based upon religion in the delivery of services.


Will grant funds pay for salaries?

Generally speaking, foundations do not like to fund grants for salaries. They are, however, usually receptive to paying for appropriate portions of salaries that are assigned to a particular project. The salaries would be packaged, so to speak, as part of the project cost. Salaries are a standard line item in federal grant budgets.


Is it necessary to wait for approval/denial from a foundation before submitting the same project request to other foundations?

No, an applicant will typically have several grant requests pending at the same time for the same project.


How helpful is it to have contacts in the foundation when an organization submits a request?

It can be very helpful to have a contact within the foundation. The foundation representative may be willing to guide the organization through the application process; review the organization’s proposal before submitting it formally to the foundation; or help the organization by arranging for a meeting with other foundation representatives.


Is it necessary to submit financial and/or programmatic reports if the foundation does not require them?

It is recommended that an organization submit reports every six months of the project period as a means of staying in touch with the foundation. Reporting is a good tool for cultivating the foundation to ask for future grants.


Do grant makers always respond with approval or denial of a grant request?

Government agencies will respond to applicants letting them know if their grant application has been approved for funding. Usually, foundations respond only to those applicants whose projects are selected for funding.


What if the project does not go as expected and yet the organization spends all the grant money?

It should not be a problem as long as the organization stays in touch with the grant maker during the grant period keeping them informed along the way. Do all federal grants require applicants to match federal funds with local funds? No, however, matching grants are common with federal grants.


Is it better to show an all cash match if a federal grant requires matching funds?

Certainly an all cash match makes for a stronger proposal as long as the applicant can also assure the federal agency the cash match is already secured or easily attainable. Often, local match is a combination of cash and inkind.


Which grants are easier to write-foundation or federal?

Federal grants are probably deemed more difficult to write because of the detail required in the applicant’s response. The application process of many large, national foundations mimics that of government grants and can be just as cumbersome to write.


Is it appropriate to call and talk to the federal Program Officer about an organization’s application?

It is advisable to call the Program Officer with questions throughout the application process. Since many federal grants are denied because of applicant eligibility, it is wise to call the Program Officer early on and introduce the organization to verify the organization is eligible to apply for the grant. A federal Program Officer is the best consultant an organization can have assuming the Program Officer will accept calls and emails and respond to them.

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