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How to Follow Up on Government Grant Requests

As soon as you send your grant application off to a state or federal funding agency, start the tracking process so that you can do any necessary follow-up on the application. You have specific rules to follow because the money you’re requesting comes from public funds.

Here are some political do’s:

  • Send a complete copy of the grant application to your elected officials.

  • Send directly to the funding agency head (state or federal) any letters of support from elected officials that were written too late to submit with your grant application.

  • Call your senators’ or representatives’ local and Washington offices to remind them that you need their assistance in tracking the grant application.

  • Ask your elected officials to keep you posted on future grant opportunities (no matter what your funding status is). Get in the information loop for state and federal monies.

  • Ask your elected officials to look for “discretionary” grant award opportunities near the end of the state or federal fiscal year (the state fiscal year usually ends June 30 and the federal September 30). At this time, leftover monies are quickly dispensed before they have to be returned to the state legislature or to Congress.

And this list gives you some don’ts:

  • Don’t scream at or threaten elected officials. You really need their influence to help you get your grant funded — if not this time, the next time it’s submitted for funding consideration.

  • Don’t count on always getting your grant funded just because you ask your elected officials to get involved in the tracking process.

You’re funded!

At the state level, you receive a funding award letter when your project is selected for funding. Monies are transferred electronically into your organization’s bank account. Some monies are awarded and transferred in advance; other monies are released on a reimbursement basis.

At the federal level, you receive a telephone call from one of your elected officials in Washington. He or she notifies you of your funding award and issues the official press release to your local newspaper. Shortly after that, you receive a call or an e-mail from the Office of Management and Budget, known as the OMB.

The OMB calls to negotiate the grant award, and yes, that means it may not offer you the full amount you requested. If you agree to a lesser amount, you need to rewrite your goals, objectives, and timelines to match the reduced funding.

You’re not funded!

At both the state and federal levels, you receive a rejection letter when your project is denied funding. No call, no advance warning. Just a cold, very disappointing rejection letter or e-mail.

If you’re not funded, request a copy of the grant reviewers’ comments, using the language of the Freedom of Information Act (find information about this Act and writing this request here). Contact your elected officials for assistance in getting a face-to-face meeting with funding agency personnel.

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