Grant Writing Basics: Make Sure You Are Eligible before Writing

Welcome to the Grant Writing Basics series, in which we will provide you with tips and advice for writing grant applications on Our goal is to provide the essential info—the basics to begin building (i.e., writing) on a solid foundation.

The first grant writing tip? Save yourself time by confirming you are eligible to apply for the grant before you begin strategizing or writing the application.

grant writing basics icon

This may seem, well, basic, but we want to avoid assumptions. If you (i.e., the organization you are applying on behalf of) do not meet the specific eligibility requirements, then you cannot receive the grant funds.

Grant program eligibility is defined by the authorizing legislation and federal agency policies, so, no matter how amazing your application may be, if you don’t meet the requirements you cannot receive the grant.

The same goes for you if you plan to apply as an individual. If this is you, read 6 Things to Know as an Individual Applicant Using

How do I check the eligibility requirements?

First, narrow your search based on your applicant type. On the Search Grants page, select the appropriate eligibility filter. This will not guarantee you are eligible for all the grants that appear in the search results, but it makes it more likely.

eligibility search filters

Second, read the Eligibility section of the grant synopsis to confirm your type of organization is eligible. To do so, click the Opportunity Number link in the search results. This still will not a guarantee you are eligible.

Third and final, read the detailed eligibility section of the official funding opportunity announcement (FOA) document created by the federal grant-making agency. Thanks to the OMB Uniform Guidance for Federal Awards, the federal agencies are required to provide clear information about the specific types of entities that are eligible and ineligible in the FOA.

So, where is the official FOA with eligibility info?

Depending on the federal agency, they may put the FOA in one of a few places on

  • Package tab – From the View Grant Opportunity page, click through the links in the Actions column to access the FOA. Once you have opened the PDF, search for the Eligibility section. For more detailed instructions on this process, go here.
  • Related Documents tab – If the FOA was not in the Package tab, select the Related Documents tab on the View Grant Opportunity page to find the FOA. Download this document and search for the eligibility section.

Read the eligibility section of the FOA carefully to make sure you are a qualified applicant. To apply, you may be required to provide proof that you are an eligible applicant (e.g., a determination letter from the IRS acknowledging your nonprofit status).

If, after reading the FOA, you still have any questions about eligibility, contact the federal agency point of contact listed in the FOA. Once you are sure you are eligible to apply for the grant, you are ready to begin strategizing and writing.

Comment on this postIf you have any questions about finding the eligibility information, please post a comment below. Also, if you have questions about grant writing that we should write about, post a comment below or use the Contact Us page. Comment Policy and Privacy Notice.

12 thoughts on “Grant Writing Basics: Make Sure You Are Eligible before Writing

  1. Iam sudanese outside USA and iam higher secondary school teacher-physic and chemistry – now studying medicine as abroad study ihave children can I apply for USHA grant 2017 thanks


    1. To determine your eligibility to apply for a grant, you will need to read the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in The article above explains how you can find that information. Here’s another blog article to help you as well: “Can Foreign Nonprofits and NGOs Apply for U.S. Federal Government Grants?”


  2. Can an organization be awarded a grant without application, if it has invited assessment of what they are doing?


      1. may we turn in our grant application by the due date if we miss the synopsis post date? is the synopsis to be prepared by us?


      2. Hi Jill, the synopsis post date is simply the date that the grant-making agency posted the announcement. Your application is due by the closing date listed on the synopsis.


  3. Can we have samples of grant application proposals or a skeletal framework of what a grant proposal should look like?


    1. does not provide sample applications. You may reach out to a specific grant-making agency or contact other grant professionals for their assistance.


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