Submitting Your Grant Proposal
The change to electronic grant submissions has accelerated the process and has brought the Federal and private foundation grant submissions into the 21st century.
Grant applicants face new and different requirements as a result of the ever-evolving electronic grant submission process. Ten years ago, no one could have foreseen this change on the horizon. However, these changes now challenge the grant applicants of today, as the Internet has created a new standard in communication that we must meet in our grant proposals. Each potential grantor may have separate and distinct current submission requirements including, but not limited to, the submission of your grant proposal online.
The need to understand the changing world of grants applies as much to first-time grant seekers as it does to seasoned grant writers. Grant officers at one Federal agency have described applicants’ use of outdated instructions as the single greatest cause of grant proposal rejection. As Federal agencies and other grantors race into the electronic age, the importance of knowing each grantor’s current requirements becomes all the more crucial to the grant submission process.
Electronic grant submission requirements vary by grantor and sector. Variations occur when the grantor is a Federal, state or local agency, or a non-government entity. This inconsistency can be confusing and frustrating for any grant applicant.
Coordinated Federal Agency Grantors
Federal government agencies have spearheaded the movement in electronic grant submissions by accepting only electronic grant submissions. Federal agencies benefit from the fact that only one agency coordinates their electronic grants process, www.Grants.gov, which was created by the government’s Office of Management and the Budget (OMB). Non-government grantors do not have such a centralized, coordinated system and, therefore, are not as organized as the Federal government in this regard.
Grants.gov has streamlined grants management and it has centralized grant information and electronic submission for more than 1,000 Federal grant programs. The OMB established specific program objectives and requirements, and Federal agencies are required to post all grant opportunities. Today, 100 percent of their grant application packages, including required forms, on Grants.gov.
This coordinated effort has made Federal grantors the most consistent in transitioning to electronic grant submission. They have set the pace in rapidly changing their grant policies and procedures. Yet despite this centralization, each Federal agency still has its own procedures, forms, and requirements.
These changes are illustrated by the following case study. It shows how the National Institutes for Health (NIH) has dramatically changed the rules for grant seekers applying for its various grants, including those for business relative to the health field.
Preparing to Apply: Registering Electronically
Grants.gov has its own registration system, and all grant applicants must register with Grants.gov in order to submit their grant proposal(s) using its system.
Downloading and Completing a Grant Application Package Using Grants.gov
Upon the release of a Federal Agency Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), applications may be submitted. NIH, HUD and several other agencies have developed generic “Parent Announcements” for applicants who want to submit what were previously called “unsolicited” or investigator-initiated applications. You must use the electronic application package from Grants.gov.
Submitting Your Grant Application Electronically Using Grants.gov
Your first step in the grant submission process is to select your methodology for submitting your grant proposal electronically. Your three choices for submitting your grant proposal to NIH through www.Grants.gov are:
- Forms-based submission: This method should be utilized as the forms are provided for online free of charge by www.Grants.gov. This is the most common means of utilizing Grants.gov to submit your application to the Small Business Administration, HUD and others.
- System to System Transfer of Data: This is intended for organizations that have existing grants management systems which do not use the same application forms provided by Grants.gov, but want to submit applications directly from their system to Grants.gov. However, the integration of such systems with Grants.gov can be difficult. By utilizing a third-party system that is already integrated with Grants.gov, the integration process can be made easier, though some knowledge of system configuration and digital certificates is required. A service provider can be helpful in the facilitation of this process.
- Utilization of a Service Provider: A service provider is an established company that has already developed a system-to-system interface with www.Grants.gov. A service provider can submit your grant proposal on your behalf using Grants.gov. The Service Providers offer an alternative to Grants.gov’s forms-based approach, as well as various grant administrative services.