How to Determine Eligibility for Federal Funding Opportunities

Determining your eligibility for federal grants is an important first step in the federal grant application process.

Funding opportunity eligibility requirements are defined by legislation and federal agency policies. To receive a grant, you must meet an opportunity’s eligibility requirements.

Here are some tips for finding federal funding opportunities for which you may be eligible:

1. Know Your Applicant Entity Type

Are you a nonprofit organization? A township? A research lab associated with a university? Knowing this allows you to better narrow your search for funding opportunities.

2. Search by Keyword, Then Narrow Your Results

Every funding opportunity has unique eligibility requirements, so using Grants.gov Search is an important part of the process for determining an entity’s eligibility for funding.  Begin by going to the Grants.gov Search page and search by keyword. Be as specific as possible. After conducting a keyword search, narrow the results on the left side of the screen by selecting the Funding Instrument Type, Eligibility, or Category. Here, “City or township governments” is selected under Eligibility, narrowing the list of available funding opportunities to only those open to city or township governments. (Note: The number in parentheses refers to the number of funding opportunities that fit this entity eligibility type.) Finally, be sure to save your search so that you can receive notifications of new funding opportunities matching this criteria as they are posted in the future.

3. Get into the Details of Each Funding Opportunity

Once you have identified a group of funding opportunities that you appear to be eligible for, it’s time to closely review the official eligibility requirements of each one. You want to do this before you begin significant work on the application, so that you can be sure that the program is a good match for your applicant entity. The funding opportunity’s eligibility requirements may be listed in the Eligibility section of the grant Synopsis. But often the requirements are discussed in much greater detail in the official funding opportunity announcement (FOA) document created by the federal grant-making agency. On Grants.gov, this document is usually found under the Related Documents tab. You can also use the Link to Additional Information field on the Synopsis Tab.

(Note: Some agencies may post eligibility information in the package instructions.)

4. Reach out to the Agency Point of Contact

If, after reading the FOA, you still have any questions about eligibility, contact the federal agency point of contact listed in the FOA. There are two places where contact information can be listed by the grant-making agency:

  • Under the Synopsis tab, in the Additional Information section, look for the Grantor Contact Information field (pictured below)
  • Under the Package tab, click the preview link. Look for the Agency Contact Information listed in the pop-up window under the Opportunity Package Details section.

Once you are sure you are eligible to apply for the grant, you are ready to begin strategizing and preparing the application.

5 thoughts on “How to Determine Eligibility for Federal Funding Opportunities

  1. Thank you for educating me more about grant research in the federal grant data base. This education will help me as well in other call for proposals from other donors

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you once more for the informative post on determining eligibility for federal funding opportunities. This is a very impactful post that, if followed, can assist an individual or organization in securing funding without wasting lots of time.

    I believe it’s vital for organizations to adhere to this post’s advice because it will help the entity see which grant opportunities are indeed a good match for them.

    It is essential for individuals and organizations to not waste time and energy by applying for grants that they do not qualify which is a common mistake for those new to grant writing.

    This was one of the mistakes that I made early on when I was doing grant writing as a beginner. The first grant application I applied to wasn’t a good match. Thus. I wasted a lot of time. However, I learned a valuable lesson from that experience, much of which you’ve addressed in this post.

    In my grant training, I use the analogy of eligibility being similar to that of Cinderella and the Prince. I believe too many organizations try to force the fit, instead of doing like the Prince did, to find the perfect fit.

    Finding the perfect fit isn’t always easy.

    However, this is where the beginners are separated from the professionals.

    The professionals know the importance of doing research. Thorough research allows one to operate efficiently and effectively.

    I enjoyed this article because you encouraged the reader after doing significant research on the agency and the funding opportunity, to take the fourth important step of reaching out to the grant agency’s contact person.

    In doing national training with numerous grant professionals, I’ve found that many often overlook this simple yet very impactful point.

    Too many apply without having any contact with the agency.

    In my opinion, this is a huge mistake because it doesn’t allow the organization to gain what I call, “relational equity.”

    I encourage the members of our Get Funded Inner Circle and Grant Writers Association on LinkedIn to make sure they don’t overlook this vital point. I commend the community blog for providing excellent information to the public to help people secure more grant funding. I look forward to seeing the next post.

    Thank you!

    Like

  3. Thank you for taking the time to help us new folks save an enormous amount of time and energy. I was a bit overwhelmed for a moment and thought that I would never be able to refine my search capabilities to match what it is I’m trying to accomplish. In essence you just saved me 6 months of serious work in one brief email. I think that’s outstanding and I applaud you. Again thank you and enjoy your day

    Liked by 1 person

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