Federal grants can be a great resource for nonprofits.
A good practice is to have diversified funding/revenue streams for your organization. Strive for 30/30/30—about 30 percent from private foundations, 30 percent from events or annual giving, and 30 percent from public sources. I suggest you start with considering Federal grants. And, as a first step, check the capacity of your nonprofit.
First, are you having success with getting grants from private foundations and other sources? This demonstrates the capacity of your organization; government grant reviewers will want to be comfortable with your ability to manage a public grant.
Look at your staff capacity, your bookkeeping or accounting systems, reporting processes and data collection abilities—all these things need to be prepared for a government grant with much additional paperwork and reporting requirements.
The public grant programs I’ve been involved with always require program activities that are research-based and demonstrated to be a best practice. There are numerous databases with links and information to research-based programs that have proved effective.
Your grant application must include compelling information (data) about the need you are proposing to address. Use current and relevant data to establish need.
Public funding will require a strong evaluation plan and, frequently, you will need to identify the evaluator during the application process. I recommend contracting with independent evaluators from outside your organization and who have experience evaluating federally funded programs.
If you are proposing a partnership program, include Memorandums of Understanding with each participating organization. These documents should have specific details about the different roles and responsibilities of each of your partners.
Grants.gov: A Great Resource
Your organization must have a current Central Contractor Registration and Grants.gov account. Establishing your account and registering is your first step in obtaining federal grants.
Check out the resources at https://www.grants.gov/. This is the best place for you to start.
If you are new to public grant writing, or if you are experienced with obtaining public funding, this website is still a great resource. This is where you can create your grants.gov account and register to be able to receive federal grants. There are many links to learning opportunities and other resources helpful as you seek public funding.
Here are some additional resources about public funding:
Small Business online: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/nonprofits-compete-for-government-grants-2501984.
Strengthening Nonprofits: http://strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Acquiring_Public_Grants.pdf