Grant writers with a lot of experience (read: “battle scars”) tend to develop cat-like instincts for the beady, little details in the shaows that can jump out and knock a project off kilter. Two such shadowy nooks dealt with in this blog are 1) a few financial issues and 2) some “Representation and Certification” issues.
Financial Capacity / Up-Front Funding
The need for up-front funding can catch you by surprise since it’s not usually a documented grant requirement. Many grants provide money up front to get started, sometimes a lump sum for the entire amount. These are great for the awardee. Others provide payment only after work is performed. These are called reimbursement grants. Here are two basic reimbursement arrangements:
- Milestone payments, or “fixed-price” agreements, in which you are paid when agreed-upon work is performed or results are achieved.
- Cost reimbursements, in which you are paid for the actual expenses incurred performing the work.
There are, of course, many variations and potential intricacies to these agreements. Whatever the specifics, if your award is a reimbursement type award, your organization must have the financial capacity to meet costs up front, and still continue operations while waiting for the reimbursement. Financial capacity, therefore, is an implicit requirement to consider though not necessarily listed among the explicit proposal conditions. When deciding whether to submit a proposal, shine a light on what type of payment will be awarded and make sure you can sustain up-front costs if necessary.
Reps and Certs
Representations and Certifications, or “Reps and Certs,” as they’re often called, assure the funding organization that the recipient is the type of organization serving the audience that the funder desires. Reps and Certs fall into the broad category of “compliance” requirements—one of three general categories mentioned in Part One of this series. Federal grants are justifiably notorious for requiring extensive forms certifying that, for example, the organization is not a foreign firm, or that it is not engaging in unlawful activities. Some funding organizations require certain levels of liability insurance among its awardees.
Most of the time such forms are tedious but not troublesome to complete. But sometimes they house a cloaked demon wielding the scythe of death. One client I personally worked with supported a lobbying firm that dealt with the funding agency. Once the grant team began completing the necessary forms, a lobbying form surfaced. The client had to describe its support of lobbying activities. The proposal was eventually funded, but not until the client obtained a statement from the lobbying firm clarifying its level of involvement.
Though Reps and Certs can get buried in the details of the application, it’s worth the time to review them early on to make sure there are no conditions that would nullify the submission.
Another forms of Reps & Certs is registration in online databases. Federal grants typically require such registration. SAM.gov is the central one, but federal agencies often require registration in their own database as well. Sometimes it can take weeks to complete registration. Make sure any required registrations are current and active well ahead of the proposal deadline.
Foundations may also impose a host of requirements concerning demographics of agency staff, its leadership, and the populations served. I’ve seen applications where the race and ethnicity of board members is part of the application. I’ve seen others where the demographics of the population receiving services must be described in the proposal text. It’s not unusual to see such demographics expected in the evaluation plan.
The overall take-away from this blog is, as with the other considerations above, to check carefully for such requirements and expose them early on, and make sure you can comply. As for evaluation and reporting mandates, that’s an area I’ll take up in the next installment.
We can help review an opportunity to check for requirements that might cause a rejection. We’ll take a quick look as part of a free consultation, or we can provide a more thorough review and recommendations with our Opportunity Review service, described in our services list and available on our online store.
Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano