Navigating Federal Grants: 5 Tips to Help You Evaluate Federal Grant Opportunities and Maximize Your Chances of Success

Government agencies offer many federal grants that fund a wide range of work to a wide range of organizations. These funding opportunities often promise much larger awards than private grants. For example, one recent opportunity I looked at was for $750,000 per year for 3 years. That could be a total of $2.25 million dollars over the course of the grant period.

These grants can be a vital source of funding for organizations seeking to expand their services, implement new programs, or enhance existing initiatives. However, the government grant application process can be daunting and can scare away organizations that are unfamiliar with this process. Also, with so many opportunities available, it can be challenging to determine which opportunities are the best opportunities to pursue.

At Millionaire Grant Lady and Associates, we have extensive experience with both private and federal grants. Last year we won many federal grants for our clients, including some over $1 million.

We have some strategies and tips for assessing federal grant opportunities and deciding which to apply for. These tips can help you maximize your organization’s potential for accessing these grant dollars.

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Who wins the most federal grants?

1) Organizations that win the most federal grants typically decide within a week of the RFP posting whether or not to apply.

Government grant applications can be lengthier and require data and attachments you may not readily have available. Your competitors will be using the entire amount of time to develop their application so that it is very competitive.

Taking too long to decide about an opportunity will ultimately mean you have less time to develop a compelling application, which may reduce your chances of winning the grant.

One best practice I recommend is that agencies make a decision to “go” or “no-go” on a federal opportunity within one week of it being released. Acting quickly and decisively will help you better allocate your organization’s time and resources.

2) Organizations that win the most federal grants apply for every opportunity they are a fit for.

Applying to multiple good-fit opportunities helps in two ways:

  1. Applying to federal grants is a muscle. The more you do it, ultimately, the better you are likely to become at it. Going through the application process helps you understand what federal grants require. This information will lead you to be better prepared, and potentially more successful, the next time.
  2. There is one certainty about federal grants: you will not receive one if you don’t apply for it. Simply applying for federal grants that are a good fit for your organization will increase your chances of winning this funding.

If you want to apply for federal grants but lack the time, resources, or experience doing this, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our federal grant services.

How can you determine if you are a good fit for a federal grant?

  1. Are you eligible? And who else is eligible?
  2. Could you meet the requirements and do all required activities with funding?
  3. Is this work you want to do?
  4. How many awards will be distributed?
  5. Can you meet match if it is required?
  6. Do you have time? Or can you partner with an expert?

1) Are you eligible for the federal grant? And who else is eligible?

Federal grants will each come with a specific set of eligibility requirements. Typically, these eligibility parameters will state which groups of organizations can apply, including nonprofit, for-profit, government, or tribal organizations. Some grants will be more narrow, allowing just one type of entity to apply, while others will allow anyone to apply.

When considering eligibility, make sure that your organization is eligible to apply, but also consider who is ineligible to apply. When a grant limits the range of applicants, this can ultimately improve your chances of winning this grant because it limits the number of types of competitors.

2) Could you meet the requirements and do all required activities with the federal grant funding?

Each grant announcement will have in-depth information about the purpose of the grant funding. You should read the entire announcement. Pay careful attention to sections with names like “Required Activities.” These sections will tell you the activities you are REQUIRED to complete if you are awarded grant funding. If you do not complete the required activities, there could be penalties, including repaying the grant amount.

Other sections in the grant announcement will mention allowable uses for the funding. These sections will talk about activities you can do that can be supported by grant funding. After completing the required activities with grant funding, think about which allowable activities could be completed with the remaining grant funds.

As you read this information, you are trying to determine:

  1. If you receive this grant amount, would this provide the financial support you need to complete the work that is required?
  2. Does your organization have the capacity to complete the activities required by this grant funding?

If you can answer yes to both of the above sections, then the federal grant opportunity could be a good fit for your organization.

3) Is this work you want to do?

As you read the funding announcement, paying careful attention to the required activities, you need to consider how closely these activities fit with your organization and your mission.

Sometimes, the grant funding will directly support work you are already doing. This will be a benefit to you in the application process because you will have the opportunity to use existing data from your program to demonstrate your capacity to deliver the required services. As long as you can satisfy all the requirements of the grant, including match and required activities, I highly recommend applying for every federal grant that directly supports work you are already doing.

Other times, the grant funding will stretch the work you are doing. For example, maybe the grant funding supports programs that match your mission, but to date, you have not been able to undertake this work due to financial limitations. In this case, federal funding can help you grow your organization’s reach and impact in your community. These are also great opportunities to apply for.

When grant funding supports the growth of your services, you can use your related experience and partnerships to build a case for how you will implement the new programming. Your related experience will strengthen your application by showing your dedication to this mission and desire to grow in service to the community.

However, if the grant funding is for work that you are not doing and that you are not interested in doing even if it is related to your mission, then this is not a funding opportunity you should pursue. In this case, just keep looking because new federal grants are posted every week. Save your time, energy, and resources for an opportunity that complements or supports your organization’s goals and growth.

Do you need help conducting federal research to find best fit opportunities? That is just one of many services we offer. Want us to conduct research for you? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

4) How many awards will the federal grant make?

Each federal RFP typically includes a statement about award floors, award ceilings, total award amount, and projected number of awards to be distributed. As a general rule, I do not recommend applying if the RFP will be giving out three or fewer awards.

The higher the number of awards provided, the more likely one of those winners will be you! The lower the number of awards provided, the more intense the competition for grant funding will be.

5) Can you meet match if it is required?

Some federal grant awards require that the organization come up with matching funds that either equal the total grant amount or equal a percentage of the grant amount, i.e. 80%.

Match funding can come from a variety of sources, including private foundations, individual donors, or the organization’s own funding. Match funding can also come from in-kind donations. This funding cannot come from any federal source, i.e. ARPA funding that trickled down to the local level. In order for a contribution to count as match funding, it must be used to support the same work the federal grant is supporting.

While not every federal grant requires match funding, many do. Each organization must consider this prior to applying. If your organization can provide match funding that meets the grant’s requirements, that strengthens your application.

If you cannot meet the match requirements, then this RFP is not a good fit for you.

Note: While some grants allow you to submit an application for a waiver for match funding, organizations should not plan on receiving a waiver. Actually receiving a waiver for match funding is exceptionally rare.

6) Do you have time to write the federal grant? Or can you partner with an expert?

Many federal grant RFPs are posted six to eight weeks before the deadline, which is a relatively quick turnaround for many organizations. The average federal grant takes 150 to 300 hours to create a competitive application. You will need to assess whether your organization has the capacity to complete the application within the given timeframe. It is crucial that you plan accordingly and allocate sufficient resources to the application process so that it can be done effectively and efficiently.

If you do not have the time or resources to complete a federal grant application, we are here to help. Did you know that our clients typically reduce the amount of time they spend on applications by 80% or more? This allows you to spend more time on the work that really matters while we handle the grant application.

Millionaire Grant Lady and Associates is a team of expert grant professionals led by Alex Dunn who has over a decade’s worth of experience in federal grants. When you partner with us, you are partnering with people who don’t just write grants—we win them. In fact, last year, we won more than $8 million for our nonprofit partners. Let us use our expertise to maximize your chances for success.

Ready to chat about how we can help you? Let’s talk!


Federal grants offer valuable opportunities for organizations doing mission-driven work. By carefully assessing eligibility, evaluating opportunities, and tackling the application process, you can maximize your chances of success and secure vital funding to support your organization’s mission and goals.

Are you ready to get started but find yourself short on time or resources? Contact us today! We are ready to share our expertise with you, handle the application process for you, and connect your organization to more grant dollars to support your important work.