Determine your organization’s strengths and needs for obtaining
and sustaining federal grants on a direct or pass-through basis.
SCORING SCALE: Does your organization fully meet (1 point) or not meet (0 points) the following requirements?
System Award Management (SAM) Registration 1
Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)2
Grants.gov Registration3
Employer Identification Number (EIN)4
IRS Determination Letter (designating tax exempt status)5
All Required State and Local Business Licenses and Registrations6
If this score is less than 6, go to Additional Context & Resources below for guidance on obtaining these must-have items.
SCORING SCALE: Does your organization fully meet (2 points), partially meet (1 point), or not meet (0 points) the following financial requirements?
All IRS filings, including Form 990, are completed annually and timely.
Independent audits are conducted annually, including at least the two most recent fiscal years.
Solid financial planning and budgeting are in place, including regular budget-to-actual comparisons and Board approved annual budgets.
At least 180-days operating cash on hand7
Formal systems and controls govern financial operations, including record keeping and transparent procedures. Systems are approved by Board and meet Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)8*
Ability to separate accounts and/or record keeping for each grant award, or a similar process in place to avoid duplicating funds
Ability to identify and track indirect costs that are necessary but not directly related to a single program, such as rent or utilities9*
Policies, procedures, and systems related to the use of restricted funds documented in an organizational grants manual that establishes internal controls related to the management of external funding10*
Ability to contribute match funding or participate in cost-sharing through cash or in-kind contributions. Match funding may not be applicable, depending on the grant opportunity.11
Successful past performance in receiving and managing government grants, as evidenced by administration of other grant programs of similar size and structure with no negative actions by the granting agency (negative actions include failure to comply with any corrective actions or audit findings)
Demonstrated commitment by management/Board to provide adequate budgetary and personnel resources to achieve program goals
Avoidance of federal debt delinquency12
Long-term financial plan and fundraising strategy that leads to sustainable and diverse support for the organization and its core programs
*GrantLab offers a Resource Guide on this topic. Links are available below.
SCORING SCALE: Does your organization fully meet (2 points), partially meet (1 point), or not meet (0 points) the following?
Complete leadership team – board of directors and senior executive(s) – is in place, has not experienced any significant change in the past 12 months, and is working cohesively
Governing body (Board) is comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds representative of the population you serve who have extensive experience and practical expertise; meets regularly and properly; has adopted and consistently adheres to clear roles and responsibilities
Board governance structure and decision-making processes are clearly defined and consistently employed
Board-approved bylaws, articles of incorporation, and conflict of interest policy are implemented
Complete and accurate roster of all key employees and key volunteers, including titles, relevant credentials, job descriptions, bios/resumes, and contact information.
Staff has the necessary knowledge and skills to manage the financial and programmatic aspects of grants and has access to additional training as needed.
Mission and vision statements are clear, specific, and compelling
Strategic plan that clearly and specifically identifies desired outcomes and the steps to be taken to achieve them for a period of at least the next 24 months
Credible track record attesting to organizational accomplishments and the relevant credentials of affiliates (board members, key staff, consultants, partners, etc.)
Data collection and analysis systems in use, program evaluation occurs regularly, and learnings are shared and acted upon
Ability for persons with limited English proficiency to access programs
Accommodations for individuals with disabilities to access programs
Published equal employment opportunity policy, documented workplace anti-harassment policy, and written non-discrimination policy
Up-to-date employee handbook including procedures notifying employees and beneficiaries on how to file allegations
Does your program fully meet (4 points), mostly meet (3 points), somewhat meet (2 points), only partially meet (1 point), or not meet (0 points) the following?
Need Statement: Clear and concise description of the problem to be addressed, the target population, and geographic service area, including relevant data from credible sources that demonstrates the need for the proposed program 13, 14
Need Statement: Verified review and analysis of existing programs (government and nonprofit) that seek to address the same need. Documented processes that sought and secured stakeholder input. Demonstrated alignment with existing programs and stakeholders and applicable local, regional, or state plans.
Work Plan/Implementation: Detailed description and plan of the proposed program that includes expected outcomes, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based), and timelines. If applicable, formal agreements with community partners and service providers (e.g., memorandum of understanding, letter of commitment, etc.).
Evidence-based Practice: Evidence of effectiveness for the proposed program, such as independent expert evaluation, inclusion in national best practices guides, or demonstrable alignment with the programs requested/encouraged by the funding agency in its funding announcement 15*
Logic Model: Justifiable logic model including a description of the circumstances, the program resources, inputs, outputs, and outcomes, should, on its own, provide a coherent outline of the program
Sustainability Plan and Resolution of Challenges: Articulated plan for program continuity including anticipated challenges, pragmatic resolutions, and ongoing financial support following the term of the federal funding16
Staffing Plan: Plan that clearly identifies personnel needs (current staff or to be hired), qualifications, and roles and responsibilities for the proposed program
Organizational Capacity and Past Performance: Demonstrable ability to administer, implement, and maintain program as evidenced by successful past performance managing programs with similar scopes, populations, and budgets
Evaluation Plan: Robust monitoring and evaluation plan for the collection and review of data to ensure the program’s effectiveness
Budget and Budget Narrative: Detailed budget for proposed program, including calculations and allocations with a narrative connecting and explaining why each expense is necessary and relates to the proposed program outcomes. *
*GrantLab offers a Resource Guide on this topic. Links are available below.
Maximum Points Available: 100  
READY! 90-100
Almost There! 80-89
Let’s Get to Work!
(60-90 days of internal planning time)
Embrace the Planning Phase
(6 months+ of planning time with a fiscal partner)

1. System Award Management (SAM): Go to SAM.gov to complete the online registration process. Core data required for all account types include a unique entity identifier (UEI) – assigned by and viewable within SAM – along with the Employer Identification Number from the IRS (“EIN”), and banking information to set up Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). If the organization has an existing registration, there may be a request for a notarized letter. Processing time may last several weeks. Enrollment may take up to 5 more weeks if an EIN must be acquired (see #4).

2. Unique Entity Identifier (UEI): Federal grant applicants who are registered with SAM are assigned a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) which phased out the nine-character Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number on April 4, 2022. The UEI is assigned by and viewable within SAM, but Grants.gov users can also find it listed under their organization profile. Existing registered entities can find their Unique Entity ID by following the steps at https://www.fsd.gov/gsafsd_sp?id=kb_article_view&sysparm_article=KB0041254 .

3. Grants.gov: Create an account for the Authorized Organization Representative (“AOR”) at grants.gov, who will be responsible for approving and submitting federal proposals on behalf of the organization. NOTE: Passwords expire every 60 days. Accounts inactive for 1-year or longer result in the removal of all account roles.

4. EIN: All organizations must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. For instructions on requesting an EIN for the first time, see https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/employer-id-numbers or if requesting an existing EIN, visit https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/lost-or-misplaced-your-ein.

5. IRS Determination Letter: An organization must apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS. If approved, the IRS issues the applicant organization an Exemption Letter. Exemption letters are required for most government grants. Learn more about obtaining an IRS Determination Letter here: https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/determination-letters-need-a-copy-or-a-correction

6. State and Local Licensing: State and local governments often require organizations to have all applicable licenses and registrations prior to awarding (and sometimes even applying for) grants. Organizations should consult with their local and state governments to confirm requirements. To begin, visit https://business.nv.gov/Resource_Center/Licensing/Permits/

7. Operating Cash on Hand: Many government grant awards are paid on a reimbursement basis, meaning organizations are paid after incurring and paying grant expenses and following specific reporting procedures. Reimbursement payments may take up to 120 days, so organizations must have policies and the capacity to manage payment delays.

8. Financial Policies: Before applying for or accepting a federal grant, organizations must be prepared for all required auditing, overall compliance, internal controls, procurement and award procedures, and financial management responsibilities. Learn more in the Nevada GrantLab resource guide on the auditor’s perspective at https://nevadagrantlab.org/public/assets/images/frontend/capacity_building/pdf/Accounting-Resources%20Guide-Grant-Lab.pdf

9. Indirect Costs: Indirect costs are expenses incurred by an organization that cannot specifically be associated with a particular program or activity. If an expense will continue even when the federally funded activity stops, it is usually an indirect cost. Examples include operating and maintaining facilities, equipment, and grounds; depreciation or use allowances; and administrative salaries. These costs may be charged to the grant as a percentage of the direct cost items in the budget as determined by the Indirect Cost Rate (ICR).
An organization that has never received a negotiated ICR may elect a 10% de minimis unless prohibited by the funding opportunity announcement. An organization may arrange an ICR through its cognizant federal agency by submitting an ICR Proposal and other supporting documentation, subject to review or audit.

10. Grants Manual: A grants manual establishes policies and procedures for application, receipt, management, and closeout of federal grant awards. Most nonprofit organizations without a highly diversified and developed grants team operate without a grants manual.

11. Cost Sharing: Most federal grants mandate recipients to share in the cost of a program, often by requiring cash or in-kind contributions. Cost sharing cannot be met with other federal funds.

Common types of cost-sharing:

a. Mandatory Committed: Cost-sharing is required by a granting agency for a proposal to be considered and reviewed. Submissions will be returned without review if cost-sharing is excluded.
b. Voluntary Committed: Cost-sharing is not required by the granting agency for eligibility purposes but is included in an organization’s proposal and becomes required at the time of the award.
c. Third Party: Cost-sharing is provided by an entity other than the primary grant applicant. This type of cost-share typically applies only when required by the granting agency.

12. Federal debt delinquency: Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act of 1990 (Act), 28 U.S.C. 3201(e) states that a debtor who has a judgment lien against debt to the United States is not eligible to receive funds directly from the Federal Government in any program.

13. Target population: Define the service need for the targeted population in the geographic area and present a system for recruiting eligible target group members—documenting the support of current, credible sources. Consider existing, planned, or potentially competing efforts of other organizations. Where possible, align with the community’s priorities, local or state government, or network goals.

14. Need statement: The narrative should describe the expected outcomes and inputs with a thorough timeline, including key partners, program activities, and program deliverables. Draw a distinct line to the purpose and need.

15. Evidence of effectiveness: Some funding agencies provide evidence-based practices (EBP) resource centers. Detail how the EBP is being used to design, monitor, and/or evaluate the program. Outline issues that might occur and illustrate how adjustments will be implemented mid-program.

16. Sustainability plans: Sustainability plans are not proposals to replace grant funds at the end of the cycle. This plan should address the organization’s financial stability, alignment between programs and strategic goals/objectives, and staffing continuity.

Please consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations.

*GRANTLAB RESOURCE GUIDES (available at nevadagrantlab.org/capacity-building)
Download a PDF