Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Be Proactive About Protecting Your Municipal Budget

Posted by Rebecca Motley on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 @ 19:04 PM
budget

It is certainly no secret that many states across the country are struggling financially. Public pension burdens can be staggering, costs of providing education and Medicaid continue to rise, and legislators are scrapping to find solutions. The state of Illinois, home of TheGrantHelpers.com, is a prime example of this phenomenon. Right now, the Illinois State Legislature is considering two areas that specifically affect municipal revenue:

      1. Local Government Distributive Funds (LGDF)

When the state passed the income tax increase several years ago, municipalities suffered a reduction in their share of this revenue stream, which fell to 6% of the tax from 10%. In the FY2014 budget, Gov. Quinn is proposing to decrease this percentage even further, which could result in a $240 million reduction in funds to municipalities, translating to approximately $11.50 per capita, according to the Illinois Municipal League. 

     2. Local Property Tax Revenue

In response to falling home prices, legislators are considering various new restrictions on increases in property taxes that fund municipal services: “...the different measures all have roughly the same goal: to prohibit school districts, park boards, municipalities, and other taxing bodies from increasing tax levies when home values are dropping.” Source:  Illinois Legislators Want Property Tax Freeze, Posted February 27, 2013, By Dennis Rodkin on Chicagomag.com.

These two areas can represent 25% or more of revenues in many municipalities. Cutbacks in Illinois and several other states seem inevitable due to current economic factors. 

One area that municipalities may turn to in alleviating these financial struggles is grant funding, particularly for capital projects. Securing federal grants for major projects can ease the operating burden on the municipal entity, while improving the quality of life for its citizens. Grants may also be used to increase the attractiveness of a community for economic development. Businesses may be more likely to locate in municipalities with updated amenities.  Effort invested in securing economic development assistance grants can result in new business, which leads to increased sales tax and property tax revenue for municipalities.

In an effort to help municipalities become aware of the multitude of grants that are available, The Grant Helper’s blog has and will feature several opportunities for rural and urban cities. One such blog we have recently posted, Municipal Water and Wastewater Grants, features six different grant opportunities to improve or construct water and wastewater systems. On April 9, check back to our blog for a list of business and economic development grants available for municipalities.  Subscribe to our blog to get a notification when we post new topics.

TheGrantHelpers.com can help in several key areas, with funding searches across multiple types of databases, overall grant strategy assistance, help with any one specific proposal, and many other services. To strengthen your approach, contact us today. Our initial advice and consultations are always free.

Photo Credit:  401(K)2013

Topics: federal grant budget, government grant budget, government spending, Budgets, state funding cuts, federal spending, municipality revenues

Trends and Projections for U.S. Federal Government Grant Funding, Part 2 of 2

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 11:03 AM
(This article is part two of a two-part series on the trends and projections for U.S. federal government grant funding. Part one of this series highlighted government grant funding trends from the past several years, what those trends might mean for grant funding and the grant funding process, and the potential impact of the recent sequestration cuts.)

In this article, part two of a two-part series, we will focus on the effects of the recent U.S. federal government’s sequestration cuts and predictions for the future of grant funding. We also will discuss how grant seekers might need to adjust their approaches in order to find and receive grant funding in the future.

 

How will the sequestration cuts affect federal grant funding?

Federal_Grant_SpendingIn a February 27, 2013 memo with the subject of “Agency Responsibilities for Implementation of Potential Joint Committee Sequestration” and written to the U.S. heads of executive departments and agencies, Controller Danny Werfel wrote, “Given the widespread use of grants, loans and other Federal financial assistance to non-federal entities (e.g., State, local and tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and companies), sequestration will impact the funding of these activities.”

He continued to outline the agencies’ responsibilities in managing their budgets in order to “protect [the agencies’] mission[s] at the post-sequestration level.” He further suggested that agencies “consider delaying awarding of new financial assistance obligations, reducing levels of continued funding, and renegotiating or reducing the current scope of assistance.” (See the entire memo here.)

So, according to this memo, the sequestration cuts will only further reduce the amount of money that the government sets aside for grant awards.

 

What do these trends mean for grant funding and the grant funding process?

In short, the federal government is likely to continue cutting future spending on the money it sets aside for grant awards, and until government officials come to an agreement about sequestration cuts, money that is currently set aside or has already been agreed to be awarded might need to be scaled back and cut as well, creating even bigger challenges for those seeking funding. As the federal government reduces grant funding, applicants for federal grants can be expected to see additional funding sources as well.

Private foundations, which also award billions of dollars annually, will in turn see more applicants competing for non-federal funds. Corporate foundations will also likely see a rise in grant applications, and non-government sectors, such as these, could also experience budget cuts as a result of cuts at the federal level.

To summarize, those seeking government funding can expect the following:

  • less federal funding available
  • increased competition for federal funding
  • increased competition for other non-federal funding sources (as a result of a need to find alternate funding sources)
  • additional reliance on non-federal funding sources, especially in educational and municipal sectors

The process and scope of these changes can make the search for funds more difficult. Organizations will need to accommodate lower levels of federal funding by 1) expanding the search for possible federal and state sources, 2) looking at additional funding sources beyond government grants, and 3) competing more effectively for fewer available dollars. Regarding the last point, more effective submissions may mean fewer submissions, but more carefully selected and more highly crafted ones.

TheGrantHelpers.com can help in all of these key areas, with funding searches across multiple types of databases, overall grant strategy assistance, help with any one specific proposal, and many other services.  To strengthen your approach, contact us today. We have experts in municipality, educational, non-profit, and other areas.  Our initial advice and consultations are always free.

For additional information on funding trends, be sure to continue checking our blog for future articles on grant-making foundations, grant-making corporations, and other articles related to grant-funding agencies, such as our recent “10 Well-Known U.S. Grant-Making Foundations You Should Know About.”

 

Image credit: Andrew Malone, andrewmalone

Topics: grant trend, funding trend, federal grant budget, government grant budget, government spending, government grant, federal grant, federal spending, sequestration cut, sequester cut

Trends and Projections for U.S. Federal Government Grant Funding, Part 1 of 2

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 15:03 PM
(This article is part one of a two-part series on the trends and projections for U.S. federal government grant funding. Part two of this series will highlight the effects of the recent U.S. federal government’s sequestration cuts and predictions for the future of grant funding.)

In the United States, there are 26 federal agencies that offer more than 1,000 grant programs annually. These programs are placed into 21 different categories. (For a full list of the 26 federal agencies that provide grants and the various grant categories, click here.)

The uncertain state of the U.S. economy and the most recent announcement of sequestration cuts have raised many questions about the future of the federal government’s grant spending. In this article, we highlight government grant funding trends over the past several years, and we discuss what these trends might mean for grant funding and the grant funding process. We also examine the potential impact of the recent sequestration.

 

How has government grant spending changed over time?

According to USASpending.gov, which defines grants as “funds awarded to a non-federal entity for a defined public or private purpose in which services are not rendered to the federal government [and] … includes Cooperative Agreements,” a decade ago (FY 2003), the federal government spent $493.7 billion on grants. In FY 2008, that amount had decreased to $419.5 billion; by FY 2012, $537.1 billion was spent, showing a significant increase in how much was spent between FY 2008-2012. The chart below shows the total amount of money, in billions of dollars, that the 26 government agencies have spent on grant funding over the last five years.

Federal_Grant_Spending_10_Years 

If one further breaks down these numbers, he or she will notice that federal grant spending peaked in FY 2009 ($664.4 billion). Much of that year’s increase can be attributed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was enacted in February 2009. As of March 1, 2013, approximately $250.8 billion has been paid out since the act’s enactment. Since then, there have been major cuts, with some federal agencies suffering more than others.

The information in the graph below is from USASpending.gov and represents how much the federal government spent on grants from the top 10 funding agencies, and how much each of those agencies spent during each of the last five fiscal years (2008-2012), in billions of dollars. The lines show movement of each agency within the rankings from year to year.

Trends_in_Federal_FundingFederal_Grant_Funds

After looking at the table above, it is obvious that the Department of Health and Human Services is consistently the top grant-awarding government agency each year, followed by either the Department of Transportation or the Department of Education. Historically, over all funding fiscal years, the top three funding agencies have been the Department of Health and Human Services ($3,927.9B), the Department of Transportation ($672.9B), and the Department of Education ($622.3B). (Lifetime numbers are not included in the chart above.) The fourth most-funded agency is the Department of Agriculture at $295.8B, which demonstrates an enormous gap from the $622.3B that the #3 Department of Education has awarded over its lifetime.

By examining the numbers in the above graphs, one will notice a definite downward trend in the amount of money being spent by the government to fund programs that have long relied on federal support. In part two of this blog, we will discuss how sequestration cuts will potentially further affect federal grant funding and what these trends mean for grant funding and the grant funding process.

While grant funding continues to be jeopardized by cuts, one thing stands true – The Grant Helpers are here to help you wherever you need it most. If you have a simple question, feel free to ask one of our experts. If you would like help in finding funding, writing a grant, developing programs, or in any other part of the grant writing process, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts today. We have experts in municipality, educational, and non-profit areas, and our initial advice and consultations are always free.

Topics: grant trend, funding trend, federal grant budget, government grant budget, government spending, government grant, federal grant, federal spending, sequestration cut, sequester cut