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Grant Writing

501 (c)(3)

The section of the tax code that defines nonprofit, charitable, or tax-exempt organizations; 501(c)(3) organizations are further defined as public charities, private operating foundations, and private non-operating foundations.



"Cost Principals for Educational Institutions" A circular published by the Federal  Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principals determining costs within education system such as grants, research, development, or other work.


Allowable Costs

Things that can be purchased or paid for with grant funds.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act    2009 The Federal legislation authorizing billions of dollars in program funding and tax cuts, referred to originally as the “Stimulus Bill,” “Stimulus Package,” or “HR 1.”


Annual Report

A report created by an organization and foundation that describes its yearly fiscal activities. These reports can be made to grantmaking organizations to ensure that money is being used as allowed.


The amount of capital or principal owned by a foundation or organization such as money, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.



Review of a project’s or agency’s fiscal activities.


The individual or organization receiving funds.


A donation or gift that has few or no obligations attached to it. The lack of restrictions makes these types of donations desirable.


Block Grants

Formula funds that are not allocated to a specific category and are more flexibly distributed.


Boilerplate Materials

Generic verbiage used in an agreement that expresses generalized or standardized terms. Sometimes boilerplate language is used as a placeholder until more specific details or personalized material can be added that actually reflect the document’s matter.


Broad Agency Announcement An announcement of a federal agency's research interests, under which awards and proposals can be made.



A detailed statement outlining a project’s or organization’s anticipated costs for a fixed period of time.

Budget Adjustment

An amendment to the initial budget statement.

Budget Narrative

Text that describes a budget’s purpose or relevance to a project’s mission.

Budget Period

A delineation of time for a budget statement.

Capital Expenses

Large purchases such as buildings, land, vehicles, or major equipment.

Capital Support

Funds for the purchase of large endowments such as buildings, land, vehicles, or major equipment.

CFDA Number

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number The CFDA is the encyclopedia of all funding programs. It’s the way all grants are categorized.


Challenge Grant

A grant given only if the receiving organization can match the funds given. This is used to inspire donors to the organization along with grant funds.

Change Order

A written order signed by a contractor to make changes to an existing contract.


Charitable Foundation

Legally categorized as a nonprofit organization. A charitable foundation either donates funds and support to other organizations or provides the source of funding for its own charitable purposes. It differs from a private foundation in that it is not endowed by an individual or family but solicits funds from the public.


Close Out

The act of completing all remaining actions to terminate a project.



Code of Federal Regulations The rules and requirements published by federal administrative agencies and departments, like HUD, the Dept. of Education, and the like.



An individual or agency who works in partnership with another organization.


Community Development Block Grant A program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that funds local community development. A block grant is less specific than a categorical grant as funds can be used more loosely.

Community Foundation

A 501(c)(3) organization that makes grants for charitable purposes in a specific community or region. Community foundations can be classified as private or public charities.


Community Fund

Funds for an organized community program used for the ongoing operations of that community.



Community Services Block Grant Program A program of the Office of Community Services (OCS) that allocates funding smaller cities and rural areas; funds can be used for a variety of human services, job training and other projects that benefit low-income persons.



Community-Based Organization An organization that provides human services and is a part of a particular community, usually characterized as a public charity.



Compact Disk-Read Only Memory A computer disk that allows for information to be “written” on it and passed to other technologies.


Company-sponsored Foundation

A private foundation whose assets are derived primarily from the contributions of a for-profit business. While a company-sponsored foundation may maintain close ties with its parent company, it is an independent organization with its own endowment and as such is subject to the same rules and regulations as other private foundations.


Competing Proposals

Proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted and must compete for new or further funds.

Concept Paper

A preliminary application, a lot shorter than a proposal.


Two or more organizations that work on a similar project.

Continuation Project (Non-Competing)

A project approved for multi-year funding, though funds may be administered yearly. For grant funded projects or cooperative agreements on a specific project.



Continuum of Care Authorized under the several “McKinney Act” Programs administered by HUD, Continuum of Care funds are allocated at the local level by regional agencies to provide services to the homeless.



A document that legally outlines an agreement and obligations between two or more parties.

Cooperative Venture

A joint effort between or among two or more grantmakers in which they share funding responsibilities or other resources.


Corporate Foundation

A foundation set up by a corporate entity. Usually refers to a private foundation which is overseen by a board or trustees.

Corporate Giving Program

A grantmaking program established and administered within a for-profit corporation. Their grant endowments usually come out of corporate profits. Corporate giving programs are not subject to the same reporting requirements as corporate foundations.



Cost Accounting Standards Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending funds.

Cost-Reimbursement Type Contract/Grant

A contract/grant for which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

Cost Sharing

Describes virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, institutions.



Expenditures exceed funds available.


Department of Commerce The federal department that oversees commercial activity.


Department of Education The federal department that oversees education.


Department of Energy The federal department charged with overseeing issues relating to energy production, consumption, and research. This shouldn’t be confused with the Department of Education, which is usually written as Dept. of Education or USDE.


Department of Health and Human Services The federal department that oversees national health and human services.



The Department of Housing and Urban Development The federal department that oversees housing matters, including Section 8 vouchers, public housing, FHA financing, etc.


Direct Costs

Specific costs that are directly related to the project.

Discretionary Grants

Awarded on a competitive basis, opposed to a formula grant


Distribution Committee

The committee responsible for issuing grant funds, of which the persons are usually representative of the giving organization.


A gift or contribution that can be made with or without restrictrions.


The recipient of funds. (Also known as the grantee or the beneficiary.)


An individual or organization that gives funds to a donee or recipient. (Also known as the grantor.)


DUNS Number

Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System A DUNS number is a 9-digit identification number that helps the federal government keep track of the grant funds it hands out.



Economic Development Administration The federal department in charge of increasing jobs and job training. It also promotes economic development by creating jobs through infrastructure improvements.


Education Department General Administration Regulations The Department that sets requirements for grant distribution.


Educational Resources Information Center A federally funded website the provides resources and information on education. This website could be a great resource for grant applicants. Visit for more information.



Electronic grant application system An online application for federal grants.


Electronic Handbook(s) Health Resources and Service Administration’s (HRSA) An online system for reviewing grant applications or posting opportunities related to the HRSA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Resources. The HRSA is mostly concerned with access to health services, especially relating to the uninsured and medically vulnerable.


Electronic Research Administration An online database that monitors grant applications, awards, distribution of funds, and other grantmaking processes. The ERA operates under the Department of Health and Human Services.



Elementary & Secondary Education Act A federal statute enacted in 1965 and now reauthorized under the No Child Left Behind Act that substantially funds Elementary and Secondary Education.

Employee Matching Grant

A donation given to a charitable contribution that is matched by a person’s employer. The employee will choose the organization or school of his/her choice and the company or employer will match those funds.



Funds set aside until certain expenses are made first.


A donation with restrictions that usually require only a certain amount of money be spent over time. This allows the funds to have a longer-term effect than if spent at once.


Expenditure Responsibility

When an organization not directly related to charity receives a grant for charitable purposes, it must exert all reasonable effort to demonstrate that it will use the funds properly. This is a requirement made by the IRS.

Expiration Date

The end date of a project or funding period.


An additional period of time given to complete a project or to utilize more funding.

F&A Costs

Facilities and Administrative Costs Expenses related to general procedures or office needs and therefore cannot be outlined specifically to a donor/grantor.


Faith-Based Organization An organization that operates on basis of their particular faith. This organization usually provides services pertaining to their values, however recipients are not always required to be of the same faith or value-system.

Family Foundation

An independent private foundation whose funds are derived from members of a single family. Family members often serve as officers or board members of family foundations and have a significant role in their grantmaking decisions.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency A subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security. It is charged with disaster response and declaring the official “state of emergency”.


Federal Funding Opportunity Another way to say “RFP” or announce that that funding is available by the federal government.


Federal Housing Administration As a subdivision of HUD it is the largest provider of insurance on mortgage loans.


Federal Register The registry of all grants approved by Congress. Grant opportunities are listed on the website.


Federated Giving Program

Funds administered by a non-profit “umbrella” organization (i.e. the United Way of America) that in term distributes funds to other non-profits. This umbrella organization is in charge of collecting and tracking the funds.

Fiduciary Agency

The agency or organization that receives grant funding and is in charge of its use.

Final Report

The report given upon completion of a project, usually required by a grantor.

Fiscal Sponsorship

The offering of an organization’s legal tax-exempt status to another organization with a similar mission or project.


Fiscal Year The 12-month period of a budget.


Fixed-Price Contract/Grant A contract or grant where one organization or agency pays another a fixed, predetermined cost regardless of the actual costs of a given project or operation. Also known as a lump-sum grant.

Form 990

The form submitted to the IRS by a non-profit reporting its annual fiscal activities.

Form 990-PF

The form submitted to the IRS by a private foundation reporting its annual fiscal activities.

Formula Grants

A noncompetitive award granted based on a pre-determined formula. The formula can be derived from demographic information, unemployment rates, poverty levels, etc. and is an attempt to quantify the need for aid. Formula grants are primarily administered by the State.

Funding Cycle

The period of time over which proposals for funding are received, accepted, and distributed.



Funding Opportunity Announcement Another term for “RFP” or to announce that funding is available.

Funding Priorities

A subject area or focus that a giving organization prioritizes in decisions about funding.

General Purpose Foundation

A private foundation that awards funds for vast and varied subject matters.

General/Operating Support

Funding for the basic operations of an agency or organization.


A donation given with little or no requirements for usage.



A type of financial assistance that requires a proposal of the project or organization’s activities followed by a review process and award of funds.

Grant Seeker

An individual, school, organization, agency, etc. looking to apply for grant funding.


An individual, school, organization, agency, etc. responsible for giving out grant funding.

Grantee Financial Report

A report outlining how given funds were used as per requirement by the beneficiary .


Grantor/Grant Maker

The party distributing funds.

Grantmaking Foundation

Also known as a nonoperating foundation. A grantmaking foundation achieves its purposes indirectly by giving funds to other organizations rather than carrying out goals directly, as with an operating foundation.

Grassroots Fundraising

Raising money through local efforts or on a broad scale through the public. This type of fundraising usually entails gathering many smaller donations by individuals.


The requirements listed by a grantor for funding or in application for funding.

Incremental Funding

Funding a project or organization in pieces rather than in lump-sum.


Independent Foundation

A grantmaking organization usually classified by the IRS as a private foundation. Independent foundations may also be known as family foundations, general purpose foundations, special purpose foundations, or private non-operating foundations.

Indirect Cost Rate

The percentage of indirect costs to direct costs formulated into a standardized rate and applied to Local Education Agencies by the CDE in order to appropriately charge individual agencies for their indirect costs.


Indirect Costs

A type of expense that comprises of general administrative costs, such as office supplies, maintenance, travel, etc.

In-kind Contribution

A non-monetary contribution to an individual or agency such as a service or consultation.


Institute of Higher Education A post-secondary school responsible for education after grade 12, i.e. university, vocational school, community college.


Interim Funding

The authorizing of spending funds before the award of funds takes effect.


Investigator-Initiated Proposal

A proposal submitted to a sponsor without being prompted by an RFP or announcement of funding.


Invitation for Bid An invitation for contractors to offer services or products to contribute to a solicitor’s project. The lowest bid is then chosen by the solicitor.

Key Personnel

The main personnel working on a specified project.


Letter of Inquiry/ Letter of Intent

A letter outlining an organization’s project sent to a grantor to determine if it’s appropriate to apply for funding. Many grantmakers prefer to be contacted in this way before receiving a full proposal.

Letter of Support

A letter from the beneficiary expressing financial support of the proposed project.



Using funds the organization or agency already has to secure other funds.


Limitation of Cost A contractual expression of a limit to funds. If costs exceed the funds promised, the giving organization is not responsible for reimbursement.


Local Educational Agency Synonymous for school district.


Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority The joint Los Angeles city and county organization charged with addressing homelessness issues in L.A. County funded through “Continuum of Care”.


Matching Grant

Grant given if parallel funds are raised, usually dollar-for-dollar.


Memorandum of Agreement An MOA or cooperative agreement is a document written between two parties to work cooperatively together on a project or to meet an objective. The purpose of a MOA is to have a written understanding of the agreement between the two parties.


Memorandum of Understanding A document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties expressing a shared objective or project.


An organization’s state purpose, meant to answer a specific issue or provide a specific service.


An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award.


The prose, or written explanation, of the project design and purpose of the grant request.


National Science Foundation A federal department that oversees research and development in the field of science.

New and Competing Proposals

Proposals that are submitted for the first time or ongoing projects that must re-compete for funding prior to expiration of the original award.

New Award

Either an award not previously given or a new award given to replace or extend a previous donation.


No Cost Time Extension

An extension of time to finish a project or receive more funding without extra cost.

Non-allowable Costs

The items or services that cannot be purchased with grant money.

Non-operating Foundation

Also known as a “grantmaking” foundation. A non-operating foundation achieves its goals by giving funds to other organizations, rather than an operating foundation that uses its funds to achieve its purposes directly.



Office of Elementary and Secondary Education A program of the United States Department of Education. The OESE’s purpose is to promote academic excellence and enhance educational opportunity and equity for all American children and families.


Office of English Language Acquisition A program of the United States Department of Education. The OELA provides bilingual education for English language learners.


Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention An office under the Department of Justice responsible for addressing juvenile delinquency prevention.

OMB Circulars

Office of Management & Budget Regulatory Circulars Regulatory circulars issued by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB).


Office of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services A program of the United States Department of Education. The OSERS serves people with disabilities in order to ensure equal opportunity, access to, and excellence in education, employment, and community living.

Operating Foundation

A foundation that uses its funds to achieve their goals directly. This is opposite of a non-operating foundation that uses its funds to give to other organizations to carry out their goals indirectly.

Operating Support

Funds that cover costs for basic operations or office maintenance.

Payout Requirement

The minimum amount private organizations must spend per year on charity. Quantitatively this requirement must meet 5% the average market value of its net investment assets in order to avoid paying excise taxes

Peer Review

A critical review or judgment of a proposal or work by other experts in the specified field.

Performance Measure

A measurement that can be utilized to evaluate the success of a project. For example, the number of jobs created, the number of students enrolled.

Performance Report

A requirement of the grantor to outline the success of a project.



A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of project plans and estimated budget submitted prior to a full proposal to determine appropriateness of the project to the grantor. Also called a Preliminary Proposal.

Principal Investigator

The lead of a project or organization applying for grant funding.

Prior Approval

The written documentation of request for additional funds for actions not previously mentioned or not directly related to project.


Priority Score

A score formulated by a review board to determine which projects are more relevant and more likely to be awarded the grant.

Private Foundation

A legal entity set up by an individual, family, or group of individuals for a purpose such as philanthropy. Unlike a charitable foundation, it does not generally solicit funds from the public.

Private Sector Grants and Funding

Foundation and corporate grants that allocate funds to charitable organizations.

Program Amount

The amount of funds used to maintain a particular program.


Program Announcement

Describes available of funds for a project. May be an expansion of previous interests or a change in interest.

Program Officer

A staff member of a foundation who reviews grant proposals and processes applications on behalf of the board.



Program-Related Investment A loan or donation of funds with the prospect of return of the capital invested.

Progress Report

Scheduled summary reports of a project.


The proposed plan of which funds are being requested.


Project Period The stated amount of time a project will take.


A written application, sometimes with additional documents, to a grantmaker or supporting organization for funds, project support, or acceptance of services.

Public Charity

A nonprofit organization that qualifies for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Public charities are the recipients of most foundation and corporate grants. Some public charities also make grants. Also known as a 501(c)(3), community foundation.


Public Works and Economic Development Act This 1965 act authorizes many EDA activities and sets guidelines for how EDA’s money is supposed to be spent.

Qualifying Distributions

Expenditures of a private foundation made to satisfy its annual payout requirement.

RAT Board

Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board The organization created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide transparency of Recovery-related funds and to prevent against fraud.


Regulations The contractual rules and actions governing sponsored projects.


A competitively reviewed proposal requesting additional funds in order to extend a project.



Usually a requirement of grantmakers that a program can be reproduced easily or can be proved effective in multiple settings.



Request for Application An announcement of available funds —a simpler format than RFP.


Request for Proposal An announcement of available funds– a more complex format than an RFA, that usually requires supplementary documents.


A modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously rejected by the grantor or withdrawn by the grantee.

Rolling Deadline

No specific closing date for applications. Proposals can be sent at any time.


Salaries and Wages Payments made to employees of the organization for work performed.


Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Acronym used in the education field to refer to the act of integrating these four curriculums and to focus classroom learning on the more “hands-on” approach of problem-solving and exploratory learning versus a teacher-focused approach.

Scope of Work

The description of the work to be performed and completed on a project.

Seed Money

A grant or donation used to start a project or organization.

Senior Personnel

The personnel charged with overseeing a project.


A private foundation may “set-aside” funds for a future project or contribution that doesn’t take place in the current fiscal year. These can be used as qualifying distributions as long as the set-aside takes place in the next 5 years.



Single State Point of Contact State contact that district must use when applying for certain federal grants.


Small Business Innovative Research A government program coordinated by the Small Business Administration that ensures 2.5% of all research funding is granted to small businesses.



Small Business Technology Transfer Funding for small businesses in partnership with research institutions.


Solicitation for Grant Applications A document issued by a funder to solicit grant applications.

Special Purpose Foundation

A private foundation that focuses its grantmaking activities in a specific area of interest.


The organization that funds a project.



Those who may benefit from the success of a project.



Standard Form 424 This is the basic cover form for most federal grant applications.


State Educational Agency The government name for state-level agency responsible for education and development of schools and residents.


Opposed to a formal salary, it does not measure the full work performed by provides as a subsidy for the individual or agency’s maintenance. This could be a stipend for living expenses. Usually indicates that work is voluntary but that individual is receiving a small token for work performed (sometimes below minimum wage).


Formula or competitive grants made from a larger grant.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration A large subdivision of the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for addressing substance abuse and mental health.

Supporting Documentation

Attachments to a grant proposal to describe project or use of funding, i.e. statistics, budgets, etc.


Strategies to continue to address the need and/or population after grant money is terminated.

Target Population

The direct beneficiaries of a project.



Task Order Agreement A legally binding document authorizing work and appropriating funds as a supplement to a original contract.


The status of organizations that do not have to pay taxes because of their charitable activities. Also refers to an individual’s or organization’s use of money that can be “written-off” as tax-exempt, such as a charitable donation.


Teaming Agreement

An agreement between two or more parties to partner on a project together.


Technical Assistance

Operational or management assistance given to nonprofit organizations. This type of help can include fundraising assistance, budgeting and financial planning, program planning, legal advice, marketing, etc.


Terms of Award

The requirements of the award imposed on the recipient.


A foundation board member or officer who helps make decisions about how grant money is spent.

Unilateral Award

An award made by a sponsor to an organization without considering competitive proposals.

Unsolicited Proposal

A proposal submitted without the official request from the funding agency.




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