Public Funders

Building relationships with public funders can be a very different process from the one described for foundations and corporate funders. The nature of the public funding process requires government entities and employees to maintain impartial positions toward grant seekers and ensure that all applicants for public funding have access to the same information. For this reason, information about public funding and opportunities to engage with government officials are generally open to all and may include: • Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA): a notice published describing funding that may become or is available on a competitive basis, how much funding is available, the goals of the funding program, where an application may be found and submitted, due dates, eligible applicants, and other information. NOFAs are often published well in advance of the actual Request for Applications. • Request for Applications (RFA): The RFA is the solicitation notice in which the funding agency announces that grant funding is available, and provides information including purpose and source of funds; expected grant award amount; award period; eligibility; application content and attachments required; budget requirements; deadlines for applications; application submission requirements; process for how applications will be reviewed; dates and requirements for pre bid conferences; and contact persons within the agency. • Prebid Conference or Webinar: Once the RFA has been issued, many public funders will hold pre bid conferences or webinars. These meetings are designed to clarify any questions that applicants may have with the solicitation documents and requirements. Be sure to read the NOFA and RFA carefully to see if attendance at one of these sessions is a requirement for submitting an application or is recommended but not required. Even if it is not required, attendance at the sessions is a great way to connect with the funding agency, get insight into the application process, and check out the competition ! • General Information Sessions: Sometimes, public funding agencies will hold general information sessions not tied to a funding opportunity. These are good opportunities to build relationships and understand the priorities of the funder. Although public funding agencies follow different rules and regulations than foundation and corporations, the most savvy government grant seekers develop the visibility of their organizations with public funders long before a funding application announcement is ever made. They are active members of their communities and have allies for their work across sectors – including other nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, schools and institutions of higher education, elected officials, and more. Developing relationships with funders of all kinds is such an important step in the process of winning grants that the value of doing it well cannot be emphasized enough. Now that you have explored strategies for developing funder relationships, it’s time to craft the problem statement for your grant proposal in Step 3.

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