Jump to Main Content



Operate a Non-Profit?: Then Get to Know Grants.gov

Comment Count:

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

Operate a Non-Profit?: Then Get to Know Grants.gov

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: September 9, 2010 Updated: April 15, 2011

While there is no such thing as;free mone- in business, if you operate a registered non-profit, you might be eligible for a government grant. In which case, you will need to get to know-Grants.gov

Grants.gov is a freely available, government-operated online portal that helps eligible organizations find, apply for, and access funding from more than 1,000 federal grant programs (valued at $500 billion annually).


What is a Government Grant?


Government grants are widely misunderstood. Much of the misunderstanding is due to less than truthful late-night commercials and'spamm' emails that tout'free government mone' for individuals and businesses.


Truth be told' government grants are generally not available to start-ups or for-profit businesses. However, the federal government does provide grants to'non-profits, educational institutions, (and) associations..., as this article on Business.gov - The Truth About Grants - explains. Exceptions occur to these rules if you are a business engaged in certain federal research and development areas (read Grants.gov - What's in it for Businesses? for more information).


Finding Government Grants for your Non-Profit


Government grants cover a wide range of activities, from agriculture production to zoological research. Eligibility for a grant varies according to its purpose and use.


But whatever the mission of your non-profit, you can search for available funds from 21 agencies using the Find Grant Opportunities tool. Search by basic key word, topical categories, agency name, or any combination of criteria using the advanced grant search tool.


Applying for a Grant with Grants.gov


In order to apply for a grant, you will first need to register with Grants.gov. This process can take several days if not weeks of approvals, so be sure to plan your application strategy in advance.


Registration requires more than just simple contact information. You will need to get a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number as well as register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), a government-wide registry for vendors doing business with the federal government. Check out the Organization Registration Guide and Checklist (PDFs) on the Grants.gov registration page for information on how to go about doing this.


Once your registration is approved (allow several days for this process) you can then proceed to apply for a grant and track the status of your application.


If you are applying for more than one grant, make sure to cater your application to that particular funding agency's specifications. If you intend to become a frequent applicant for government grants for your non-profit, you might want to take advantage of an automated tool -the Applicant System-to-System - which streamlines the application process and eliminates the need to re-enter the same data each time.


Self-Service Tools that Help you Navigate the Grant Process


Grants.gov also offers a variety of self-service and assistance tools that help you navigate the grant application process. Launched in July 2010, the Grants.gov iPortal gives you 24 hour access to self-help tools including the top ten requested help topics, a searchable knowledge base (400 answers to common issues), self-service help ticket generation, live one-on-one help via web chat as well as alerts and updates.


You can also sign up for a quarterly newsletter and read the Grants.gov Blog (although it really focuses on systems and operational topics).


Additional Resources


For more information on non-profit fundraising and other sources of episodic and ongoing funds, as well as how to avoid government grant scams, read these earlier posts:

About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an SBA.gov account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!