What Is Federal Financial Assistance? [Updated]

This post was originally published on April 17, 2017 and updated on July 3, 2019.

Federal financial assistance is the transfer of anything of value, most often money, from a federal agency to a non-federal entity.

Grants.gov's What is... Blog Series

In the most general sense, federal financial assistance is a tool the government uses to serve public purposes as defined by Congress.

Federal financial assistance is a very broad term, and it can take on a variety of more precise forms.

  • One of the most common forms is a grant, which we write about quite often on this blog.
  • Other examples of federal financial assistance include cooperative agreements, donations of property, direct appropriations, food commoditiesloans, interest subsidies, and insurance.
  • Each type of federal financial assistance serves different purposes and has different legal and regulatory frameworks that govern how that specific assistance can be used.

Continue reading What Is Federal Financial Assistance? [Updated]

HHS Conference Affords Glimpse Into ‘Reinvention’ of Federal Grants Management

As federal agencies continue their move towards a more data-centric approach to grants management, areas like grantee risk assessment and performance evaluation are positioned to reap the early benefits of the ongoing data revolution in government.

On June 6, attendees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Grants Management Conference in Shady Grove, MD were given glimpses of how data can be leveraged to help achieve mission objectives more effectively and efficiently.

Imagine creating efficiencies and reducing administrative burden by 1% annually and utilizing those funds for mission objectives.At HHS, improving efficiency by even a single percentage point can mean billions of dollars saved, said Michael Peckham, who heads up the Reinvent Grants Management initiative at HHS.

In fiscal year 2018, for example, about 67% of all federal grants came from HHS, totaling about $509 billion. Peckham, citing a study by the Federal Demonstration Partnership, said that an estimated 44% of awarded grant funds are spent on grantor and grantee overhead.

“Imagine creating efficiencies and reducing administrative burden by 1% annually” and utilizing those funds for mission objectives, he said.

In fact, a range of data-related reforms are already being rolled out and tested within HHS. These efforts are laying the foundation for the more efficient and effective use of federal grant funds in the coming years.

Continue reading HHS Conference Affords Glimpse Into ‘Reinvention’ of Federal Grants Management

Distinguishing Among Different Types of Federal Awards, Including Block Grants, Cooperative Agreements & More

Over the last three years, we have published a wide range of blog articles that explain the ins and outs of federal grants. In some of these posts, as part of our “What Is…” series, we define key terms that applicants might encounter when browsing opportunities from federal grant-making agencies.

In this post, we review the various types of federal funding opportunities and provide a link for readers to want to learn more about a specific type of federal award.

 

learn grants 2

 

What is an Award?

A federal award is a legal instrument through which you (i.e., an applicant) are awarded a grant agreement or cooperative agreement by a federal grant-making agency (i.e., a grantor). Click here to go deeper.

 

Continue reading Distinguishing Among Different Types of Federal Awards, Including Block Grants, Cooperative Agreements & More

Applicant Resource: Gleaning Insights into Funding Trends with the NIH Data Book

Every year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) releases an online resource called the NIH Data Book. Its current iteration is the most powerful the resource has ever been at communicating “funding trends on grants and contract awards, success rates, small business programs, peer review, as well as the scientific workforce.”

The Data Book’s new interactive visualizations, added in 2019, make it easy to explore the mountains of data available from NIH-funded projects and programs.

Applicant Resources

Continue reading Applicant Resource: Gleaning Insights into Funding Trends with the NIH Data Book

Grant Writing: 3 Tips for Discussing Impact in Federal Grant Applications

Let’s say that your organization is applying for a federal grant that will support a wildlife reserve restoration project.

You craft a need statement that (1) aligns with the grant-making agency’s funding opportunity announcement; (2) communicates your organization’s experience with restoration projects; and (3) includes several concise – but compelling – anecdotes illustrating the need for restoration.

Now, you and your writing team need to outline the impact that your proposed project will have on the wildlife reserve. Once again, you’ll want to make sure the impact your team projects aligns with agency goals. You will also need to balance specificity with realism.

Below, we continue our grant writing series with tips for defining and projecting the impact of a proposed project. The following tips have been adapted from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources & Services Administration’s grant writing guide, titled “Tips for Writing and Submitting Good Grant Proposals”.

Grant Writing Tips

Tip: Think like a reviewer when you are discussing the impact of your proposed project.

In a previous series post, we discussed the role of peer review panels, as well as the criteria they use to evaluate applications. Such panels provide their evaluations to the federal grant-making agency’s staff.

Continue reading Grant Writing: 3 Tips for Discussing Impact in Federal Grant Applications

FAQs from City, Town & County Government Officials Seeking Federal Grants

Let’s say you’re a mayor of a small town in the Midwest, or a newly elected commissioner in a county along the East Coast, or an official who overseas parks in a suburb of a major city.

You’re looking for federal grant funding, but you don’t know where to begin.

The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.

Grants.gov recently met with several groups of mayors, commissioners, and other local officials at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference during the Federal Agency Round Robin event. Many of these local officials spoke of feeling overwhelmed when searching and applying for federal grants.

Federal grants for towns and cities

Over the course of our conversations with local officials, several key questions surfaced again and again, and in this space we would like to share them – along with our answers – in hope that they will be helpful to others who find themselves in similar positions, with similar needs.

 

Continue reading FAQs from City, Town & County Government Officials Seeking Federal Grants

Grant Writing: 3 Tips for Crafting Need Statements in Federal Grant Proposals

In this space, we have previously shared tips about the pre-writing phase of completing a federal grant application – for example, the importance of reading (and re-reading) the grant announcement, and the importance of understanding the criteria by which your application will be evaluated.

In this post, we dip our toes into the grant writing process itself and share some tips about crafting a need statement. These tips are adapted from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources & Services Administration’s grant writing guide, titled “Tips for Writing and Submitting Good Grant Proposals”. Along with each tip, we also include an excerpt from an award-winning federal grant proposal that can be viewed in full on the website of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. (IMLS has an excellent collection of proposals that are worthy of review – especially for new federal grant applicants.)

Grant Writing Tips

Continue reading Grant Writing: 3 Tips for Crafting Need Statements in Federal Grant Proposals

Resource: Self-Paced Grants Management Courses from the Department of Education

Continuing our blog series on applicant resources from federal government agencies and offices, today we highlight one of the more comprehensive sets of training modules on offer from the U.S. Department of Education. In fact, there are currently ten self-paced e-learning courses available on ED.gov’s Grants Training and Management Resources page.

Applicant Resources

“While the topics focus primarily on fiscal issues, there are important concepts included in the trainings that are applicable to anyone involved in grants activities, either programmatic or fiscal,” reads a description of the resource.

Continue reading Resource: Self-Paced Grants Management Courses from the Department of Education

What Is the Difference Between Grants.gov and Benefits.gov?

This post was originally published on April 18, 2017 and updated on February 20, 2019.

Grants.gov regularly receives a significant amount of queries from users hoping to apply for personal financial assistance from the federal government. These individuals might be looking for home repair grants or forms of disability assistance.

Others are unfortunately driven to Grants.gov by scam artists posing as agents of Grants.gov (or some made-up variant) who promise “free government grants” in exchange for monthly fees or gift cards.

What is the difference between Grants.gov and Benefits.gov?

Continue reading What Is the Difference Between Grants.gov and Benefits.gov?

Applicant Resource: NIH Online Course ‘Entrepreneurial Finance for Biomedical Innovators’

“Can I get funding for my business?”

The short answer to this question is usually no, as we have explained in previous posts.

But there are cases where federal grants can be awarded to small businesses. One such case is with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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“These programs allow US-owned and operated small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has a strong potential for commercialization,” explains NIH on the programs’ website. “In Fiscal Year 2018, NIH’s SBIR and STTR programs will invest over 1 billion dollars into health and life science companies that are creating innovative technologies that align with NIH’s mission to improve health and save lives.”

Continue reading Applicant Resource: NIH Online Course ‘Entrepreneurial Finance for Biomedical Innovators’