We live in a world where, as consumers, we can purchase literally anything with a quick search and a few clicks. The rise of online shopping and next-day delivery has made it easier than ever to go on a shopping splurge without seriously weighing the costs and benefits of the newest gadget or the impact it will have on our personal finances. When a grant is awarded to an organization, the program staff may enthusiastically load up their online shopping carts with everything outlined in the grant budget. There is certainly a time and place for efficient procurement of approved supplies and services. In fact, federal law requires grantees minimize the time elapsing between the receipt of grant funds and the payment for allowable expenditures (2 CFR 200.305(b)). It is important for program staff to quickly implement the grant award, and typically, this means doing a little shopping.

You too can understand and apply for federal grants! Applying for federal grants can - to put it mildly - be daunting. In this training, presenter Julie Assel, GPC makes it easier by guiding participants through the major components, the key similarities and differences between foundation and federal...

  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently opened applications for its Rural Cooperative Development Grant. USDA opportunities such as this can often be incredibly impactful – if not transformative – for rural communities. Let’s take a closer look at the details for this program by answering some key questions. What is the Rural Cooperative Development Grant? The Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) is intended to improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting in the startup, expansion, or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities. Cooperatives are essential to the U.S. economy and are particularly critical to the health of rural communities. Cooperatives not only help farmers and ranchers market their products, but they can also supply rural residents with important services such as electricity, telecommunications, financial services, housing, food, and building materials.

With quick turnarounds and tight deadlines, grant writers can often overlook the importance of tying the numbers in the budget to the activities of the project. While funders give us many opportunities to do this, they often cite the absence of this connection as one of their biggest critiques of grant proposals. I’ve heard it mentioned time after time in funder panels, trainings, and in direct feedback from funders. As you begin a grant proposal and rally the project team, encourage them to have a “budget first” mindset. The budget, after all, is the primary driver of what the grant is all about. When the budget is the last thing on the list to complete, this typically sets off a chain reaction of making last minute edits to the proposal narrative, budget narrative, timeline, etc. This is when the connection between the budget and the project itself can get lost. The two key places where grant writers can be sure to show this connection are the budget narrative and the proposal narrative.