Exploring Eligibility: Can Foreign Nonprofits and NGOs Apply for U.S. Federal Government Grants?

Several weeks ago, we explored the topic of federal grant eligibility for nonprofit organizations. But what if your nonprofit organization is based outside of the United States? Are you eligible to apply for and receive a federal grant?

Exploring Eligibility blog series

Yes! Foreign nonprofit entities and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) may apply for federal grants. However, eligibility varies for each grant program, so continue reading to understand this process.

Great! I know the grant I want to apply for. How do I get started?

To apply as a foreign entity for a federal grant through Grants.gov, you must first ensure that you have two key pieces of information: a DUNS number and an NCAGE Code.

  1. DUNS stands for Data Universal Numbering System. The DUNS number is unique to your organization and free to acquire. Click here to begin the process.
  2. NCAGE stands for NATO Commercial and Government Entity. The NCAGE code is required for all foreign entities seeking a federal grant. Click here to apply for an NCAGE code.

After you have both the DUNS number and NCAGE code, there is one final step before registering with Grants.gov: You need to register with SAM, the System for Award Management. Check out this registration guide for international entities from SAM.gov.

Once you have both a DUNS number and NCAGE code, and you have registered with SAM, you are ready to register with Grants.gov. For a more in-depth look at Grants.gov registration, click here.

Wait! Do I need a TIN, or a Tax Identifier Number?

If your organization does not pay taxes in the United States, then, no, you do not.

OK, I have registered on Grants.gov. Now what?

Remember that federal grant you wanted to apply for? Search for it on Grants.gov and re-read the Eligibility section in the Synopsis tab to make sure the opportunity is relevant and open to foreign applicant entities.

For example, you should see information like this in the Synopsis tab of the View Grant Opportunity page:

foreign nonprofit eligibility

If your organization is eligible, then click on the Package tab and begin working on the application – either by creating a workspace or by downloading the Legacy PDF Package. If you are not sure whether your organization is eligible, contact the office or person listed in the Grantor Contact Information section of the Synopsis tab.

We are just a small organization. Can we partner with a larger organization when applying for a grant?

Yes. It is quite common for in-country organizations to partner with larger organizations receiving grant funding from the U.S. government.

In such cases, specific requirements for applying may vary depending on the grant-making agency. For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that grants awarded to a consortium of NGOs may be passed through a single applicant entity:

The grantee, as the direct and primary recipient of NIH grant funds, is accountable to NIH for the performance of the project, the appropriate expenditure of grant funds by all parties, applicable reporting requirements, and all other obligations of the grantee… In general, the requirements that apply to the grantee …also apply to consortium participant(s).

In this case, one organization will manage the application. Partner organizations will be required to abide by the rules and guidelines outlined by the grant-making agency.

What if we cannot find a willing partner? Is there any other way to receive U.S. government grant funds?

In some cases, U.S. missions will post funding opportunities for in-country organizations whose work aligns with a programmatic objective. These grants will also be published on Grants.gov.

On the USAID In-Country Partners page, for example, the following example is provided:

The USAID mission in Pakistan channels over half of its U.S. civilian-assistance programs through Pakistani government, civil society, and private sector entities to develop a stable, secure, and vibrant economy.

An example of a grant opportunity currently posted on Grants.gov and open to applicants is reserved for “a local Bangladeshi organization with experience in public health and nutrition interventions.” The awarding mission’s focus is to “improve the nutritional status of women and children in select rural areas in Bangladesh.”

ContactDo you have questions or comments about grant eligibility for international NGOs? Please use the comment section below to post your feedback. Read our Comment Policy and Privacy Notice.

3 thoughts on “Exploring Eligibility: Can Foreign Nonprofits and NGOs Apply for U.S. Federal Government Grants?

  1. Our Foundation is registered and operates in the United States and Sub-Sahara Africa, in case we get a grant fom gants.gov, do we need a Domiciliary Account or US Bank Account to get the fund?

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    1. In answer to your question, please keep the following in mind:
      1. When you apply for a federal grant, your application is routed to the federal grant-making agency. The agency awards the grant (not Grants.gov) and decides how it will provide the awarded funds. If there is a particular grant you want to apply for, we suggest reaching out to the agency contact listed on the grant synopsis.
      2. All that said, generally speaking, the grantee can have either a U.S.-based account or a domiciliary account. The government’s payment management system supports both.

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