eCivis Blog

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Faces September Sunset

Posted by Timothy Tiernan on Jan 29, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Zion National Park.  Photo by author.

You’ve heard the refrain many times before: If Congress doesn’t act by x date, y funding for z programs will be cut. Well, the song remains the same for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), whose funding over the last 50 years has provided more than $4 billion in matching grants for projects such as parkland acquisition and facility development, including the acquisition of California’s Big Sur coast and Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. The fund sunsets in September if Congress does not act in time. 

Fortunately, the City Parks Alliance (CPA) has released an excellent report on the subject detailing the variety of benefits that come from investing in our state and urban parks: promoting public health, generating jobs, attracting residents and businesses, leveraging private-sector investment, and lowering infrastructure costs for cities. Of course, not all benefits are measurable, like beauty, but they underly what we quantify.

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Topics: Parks and Recreation

eCivis Grant Writing Services: Atlanta and Beyond, 2015

Posted by Timothy Tiernan on Jan 27, 2015 6:00:00 AM

eCivis has a significant circuit of grant writing events scheduled for 2015, spanning from St. Louis to San Antonio to San Jose. Titled "Preparing for the Competitive Grants Game" and hosted by Vice President of Grant Writing Services Beverly Browning ("Dr. Bev"), the trainings will focus on the following objectives:

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Topics: grant writing, videos

Handling a Federal Grant Application Rejection Notice

Posted by Beverly Browning on Jan 19, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Are your grant-seeking efforts resulting in a slew of rejection notices from funding agencies? What happened to the excitement and hope that you had when you were planning and writing your grant applications? Are you becoming “grant writing shy” and not wanting to apply for more competitive grant funding opportunities? In this blog, I’ll talk about the steps to take in order to effectively handle grant application rejection notices.

Rejection from Federal Grant-Making Agencies

When you apply for a federal grant, you are competing against other states, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribal organizations. Tossing your grant applications into a swirling pool of funding requests with hundreds or thousands of other competitors takes fortitude. Federal peer reviewers are given specific criteria about what constitutes a funding recommendation, criteria that have little to do with your zip code or authentic need. There can be numerous reasons why your applications are not resulting in grant awards. So when that standard generic rejection email arrives in your inbox, don’t have a meltdown. Here are some steps that I take when my client’s grant applications are not funded (Did I actually say this to the world? I did, I’m human!):

  • Request a copy of the peer review feedback from the funding agency and look for the list of content weaknesses that caused your application to lose peer review points. Often, the points that are deducted have nothing to do with the merit of your proposed project or your own writing abilities. 
  • View the funder agency’s website to see if the list of awarded grant applicants has been posted. Look to see who else was funded in your city, county, state, and federal region. If there was nothing funded, your problem is politically related, not writing-related—no matter what the peer review feedback summary lists as your grant application’s weaknesses!
  • Particularly look at the budget narrative feedback. Often, once you write the narrative and assemble the attachments, preparation of the budget narrative and summary are handed off to a municipal treasurer, finance director, business manager, or someone else that crunches the numbers and can add the cash match information as well. Most often, the grant writer has no control over what ends up in the grant application’s budget section—and if we did, we couldn’t change overhead or hidden administrative expenses!
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Topics: grant writing

Community Development Block Grants Serve the Needs of Nonprofits

Posted by Kim Joyce on Jan 14, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The first time I heard the acronym "CDBG" as a brand new grant writer, I didn’t know what to think. What did those four letters stand for ("Community Development Block Grant"), and why were they so important? As a grant writer located in Maricopa County, Arizona, I know that most cities have some form of CDBG funding—in fact, practically every city in the County (Scottsdale, Mesa, Glendale, Chandler, Peoria, and the Town of Gilbert). Why are these grants are so important? Because with other funding sources drying up, CDBG grants are an excellent source of funding that nonprofits have come to rely on over the years.

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Topics: federal grants, nonprofits, local government, formula grants, CDBG

The DATA Act: Important Dates for 2015 and Beyond

Posted by Rachel Werner on Jan 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

In November 2014, I attended a conference sponsored by the Maryland Governor’s Grants Office. The focus was primarily on the changes that are taking place within the federal government pertaining to grants management, and then filtering down to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. These changes include the required use of the OMB Omni-Circular and the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA) Act. As grant professionals, we know that these changes are important and we can look through the voluminous acts to determine their significance in our daily work. But do you know why they are here, particularly the DATA Act?

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Topics: DATA Act, grants management best practices

Student Support Services (SSS) Grant Opportunity in Focus

Posted by Allison Boyd on Jan 7, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Grant applications for the Department of Education's Student Support Services (SSS) program are due in less than four weeks (February 2). To those of you in the middle of your narrative draft, I say this not to panic you but to remind and encourage you; to those of you who are interested but unfamiliar with this federal TRIO program, I'm here to tell you a little bit more about SSS, which offers over $260 million and more than 1,000 awards annually to institutions of higher education.

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Topics: federal grants, education

Good Press for Your Grantor

Posted by Linda Gilbertson on Jan 5, 2015 4:50:00 AM

So, you and your staff wrote a great grant application that was awarded. Your CEO wrote a letter thanking the funding agency for their generosity, which was sent along with the signed award documents to the agency in a timely manner.

Now you are all ready to get started on your very important project, right?

Not so fast. If the funding agency was a foundation or a corporation, as opposed to the federal or state government, for instance, you definitely need to take one more step: public acknowledgment of the gift.

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Topics: grant writing, foundation grants

Tips from a Grant Contractor to Municipal Managers

Posted by David Rappoport on Dec 29, 2014 4:45:00 AM

For many years, I have worked as a consultant to units of government, as well as private institutions, to develop and submit complex proposals to the federal government. When I encounter challenges working on these projects, they are typically in one or more of three areas:

  • Capacity
  • Finance
  • Data

Thinking about these factors before you begin work with a consultant may help you get the best out of him or her.

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Topics: grant writing, local government

Grants Management 2015: A New Era of Uniform Guidance

Posted by James Ha on Dec 23, 2014 5:23:00 AM

Grant reform is here for the holidays and beyond. The most sweeping grant reform in decades culminates with the OMB’s Uniform Guidance, which takes effect this Friday and begins a new era in grants management. Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Maryland Governor’s Grants Office conference with some of the major players in federal grant reform. Appropriately titled “The Times, They Are a Changing,” the conference included presentations by representatives from the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Justice, and, among many others, on the changes that will affect federal grant-making agencies, grantees, and subgrantees.

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Topics: federal grants, OMB, grants management best practices, super circular

Grant Writing Testimonials: Cedar Park, Texas

Posted by Timothy Tiernan on Dec 18, 2014 5:00:00 AM

Attendees at our grant writing workshops might come from local government, special districts, fire departments, community organizations, and even the freelance community. In October, I shared testimonials from Beverly Browning's grant writing training in Arizona from a couple years back. This next installment of testimonials comes from Browning's training in Cedar Park, Texas, near Austin, where she led a workshop on "Taking Your Grant Research and Writing Skills to the Next Level" to both novices and veterans. Here's what some attendees had to say about the grant writing session: 

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Topics: grant writing, Testimonials, videos

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