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How to Follow Up on Government Grant Requests

Don't sit around biting your nails. As soon as you send your grant application off to a state funding agency or upload it via a federal e-grant portal, start the tracking process.

Now's the time to use those great political contacts you've made in your state's capital and in Washington, DC. Because the money you're requesting comes from public funds, keep these political do's and don'ts in mind:

  • Do e-mail a complete copy of the grant application to your elected officials.

  • Do e-mail 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.

  • Do e-mail or call your senators' or representative's local and Washington offices to remind them that you need their assistance in tracking the grant application.

  • Don't scream at or threaten elected officials. You really need their influence to help you get this and future grants funded.

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

You get a grant award notification

At the state level, you receive a funding award letter or e-mail 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 may receive a telephone call from one of your elected officials in Washington, who notifies you of your funding award and issues the official press release to your local newspaper. If your official doesn't contact you, you can expect to receive an e-mail from the Office of Management and Budget, known as the OMB.

If you agree to a lesser amount, you need to rewrite your goals, objectives, and timelines to match the reduced funding. Here's some logic: If you're going to receive less grant money, your promised program design (goals, objectives, and timelines) shouldn't remain at the same level as a fully funded program.

Reduce your promises by serving fewer members of the target population. Decrease your objectives to take the heat off of having to hit 80 percent or higher. Do less with less — that's the rule!

You receive a standard form rejection letter

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, the law that entitles you to such public information. Some federal agencies send you the peer review results automatically.

In other instances, you may have to call a federal program officer to request the peer review comments. If you don't receive these comments within 90 days of receiving your rejection notice, use the Freedom of Information Act to request them.

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