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7 Terms Grant Writers Should Know Before Submitting A Proposal

7 Terms You Should Know
Before Submitting Your Grant Proposal


If you’ve ever written a grant or are just getting started with grants, there is probably one thing, more than anything else, that may have stumped you – the vocabulary. It’s almost as if grant writing requires a second language. You could spend hours just trying to figure out what a funder is saying in a Request for Proposals.

The team at Grantmamas has identified seven of the most important grant writing terms you must understand when writing your proposal.

1. Determination Letter

A document from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizing that an organization is eligible for tax-exempt status.

2. Disallowed Costs

Grant expenditures the grantor determines to be unallowable in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in the original award.

3. Discretionary Grant

A grant awarded at the discretion or recommendation of a board, high-level staff, or trustees of a foundation. These grants may lie outside the funders’ guidelines. At the federal level, a discretionary grant is one where the grantor may select the grantee from among all eligible recipients and may decide the amount of funding to be awarded. The funding decision need not be based on programmatic, technical, or scientific content of an application.

4. Formative Evaluation

An evaluation process that occurs throughout the implementation of a grant. It can play a crucial role in determining the success and/or failure of aspects of a project as it proceeds, and can allow for quick adaptations as necessary. Formative evaluation is used to “fine-tune” activities throughout the course of the grant so changes can be made as needed.

5. Indirect Cost Rate (ICR)

Funders realize grantees bear costs associated with running and housing a grant program/project. Also referred to as Facilities and Administrative Rates (F&A), an Indirect Cost Rate (ICR) is a vehicle for determining the proportion of indirect costs a particular grant budget should bear. An ICR may be a negotiated rate determined by the grantee submitting required support documents to the grantor. For some grantors, indirect costs are calculated by taking either a percentage of the total grant program costs, or a percentage of the personnel budget line. Which indirect costs and how high an indirect cost rate will be supported by a grant vary among foundations, government agencies, and corporate funders.

6. In-Kind Contribution

A contribution of any kind of asset (e.g., goods or services), other than cash, that is donated to a particular organization for a grant program. This can include donated equipment, supplies, office or other space, staff time, volunteer hours, materials that are donated for project use, printing or photocopying services, etc. All in-kind contributions for a proposed program should be line items in the budget and described in the budget narrative.

7. Project Sustainability

The ability of the grantee to continue a project once all grant money is expended and the funder no longer supports the project.

These seven terms will get you started, but there are a lot more where these came from. We include 300+ grant writing terms in our handy, searchable guide, The Ultimate Grant Writer’s Dictionary.

Be sure to save yourself the headaches and wasted hours trying to understand grant writing terminology by picking up your copy today.


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