Grant Services - Advice and Tips

Some Common Grant Terms and Acronyms

Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 21:05 PM / by Michelle Hansen


We have received several questions from people about common terms and acronyms they have found when looking for and applying for grants. Here are some common ones. We hope this information will help you in your search for grants. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us. The first consultation with one of our expert Grant Helpers is always FREE.

NOFA: Notice of Funding Availability – State and federal governments as well as private foundations and organizations issue a NOFA when funding becomes available for programs. Notices of Funding Availability are more common from the government since government spending often has to be approved at various times for use. Normally, a NOFA lists the application deadlines, eligibility requirements, and places where you can get more help in applying for program dollars.

LOI: Letter of Inquiry – A letter of inquiry is a brief yet concise presentation of the program or problem that you would like funded as well as your organization’s qualifications and background. A letter of inquiry can often be the most important step in securing grant funds. According to the Foundation Center, many foundations prefer funding requests come first in the form of a LOI instead of a full proposal. Foundations typically use letters of inquiry to see if there is interest in the project before a full proposal is submitted. Check out our full blog on letters of inquiry here.

RFP: Request for Proposal - The Nonprofit Good Practice Guide's Glossary defines an RFP as "An invitation from a funder to submit applications on a specified topic with specified purposes." According to the Foundation Center, a relatively small number of grant-making organizations use RFPs although they are becoming popular for promoting new programs.

RFA: Request for Applications – An RFA is essentially the same as a RFP. Government agencies and other grant-making organizations sometimes release requests for applications, specifying what types of programs are eligible for funding.

Budget Narrative or Budget Explanation – The budget narrative provides a detailed description and support for items in the proposal budget.  Budget narratives typically include calculations for staff hours and costs, lists of materials & supplies with costs, description of travel with cost details, explanation of other direct costs, and indirect cost rates and calculations. Some require a description of what personnel will do on the project.

Indirect Rates - Grant-making organizations understand that when they fund a proposal they are not reimbursing the recipient for all related costs because the grantee has to absorb such costs as heating, lighting, and salaries. That’s why some agencies allow a proposal to include indirect costs. These costs cannot be attributed to a single project, but support multiple projects. We have an entire blog describing indirect rates.

In-Kind Funds - Sometimes grants require matching funds. One way an organization can increase matching funds is to list the value of services or other support as in-kind funds. Volunteer services, space, transportation, and donated goods you distribute are common examples of in-kind matches.

Logic Model -  A logic model is sometime requested when applying for a grant. Simply put, this document shows the relationships among your project's sources, actions, outputs, and expected outcomes. Logic models show, in table form, the expectations you have for the project you wish to be funded. Logic models can be useful for project planning and making you aware of any project gaps. Visit our past blog for a detailed look at logic models and their importance in grants.

Matching Funds – In some cases, the organization receiving the grant needs to provide a certain amount of its own money, or collaborators’ funds, toward the effort. Programs vary a lot in the amounts and types of matching funds required; many require no matching funds at all. But if a match is required, failure to provide it will likely result in the rejection of the application. We previously wrote a series of blogs on finding matching funds and how to use them after you receive them. See that blog here.

Proposal Budget – While a budget does not need to be defined, we do get a lot of questions about budgets, so we included it in this list. Make sure your budget provides all information required in the proposal guidelines.

Unsolicited Grants – Some foundations may choose to not accept any unsolicited grants, meaning they contact the entities they would like to submit applications for grant funding. If you are not invited, you can’t apply. Foundations do this for several reasons including the desire to fund groups only in a certain area; the need for less paperwork; and the desire to fund very specific causes. You can learn more about unsolicited grants in our previous blog.

Have a grant term you’re wondering about?  Feel free to post a question here, or contact a Grant Helper directly. can help you in all facets of your project or program, from development to finding funds to implementation. See a detailed list of all of our services here.

Photo Credit: greeblie

Topics: matching funds, unsolicited grant, RFA, indirect rates, NOFA, LOI, RFP, logic model, proposal budget, Budgets, in-kind funds

Michelle Hansen

Written by Michelle Hansen

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