027: How to Register on Grants.Gov
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If you already have an EIN, DUNS, and SAM then watch the quick video on how to register on Grants.gov AND the new notarized forms for SAM
Grants.gov is the big daddy of federal grant applications. We are going to really look at all the different things you can do on Grants.gov so you can utilize at full capacity. Finding grants and applying for federal grants is not the only thing that Grants.gov has to offer your nonprofit or all you grant writing consultants. If you have checked out Grants.gov you know that lot of information is on the website. In fact, there is SO much information listed on side bars, menus, sub menus, that one can quickly develop the overwhelming, “I don’t have time to look through all of that” syndrome. I know - I’ve been there.
The goal for this grant writing and funding podcast is not to overwhelm you with the five billion things you can do on Grants.gov. This podcast is meant to break down the mindboggling grant and funding world (akin to academia jargon on steroids) into tangible and tiny bite-sized pieces of information that you can easily chew, understand, and then apply the strategies to get more funding.
What exactly is Grants.gov?
The formal definition is:
Grants.gov is an E-Government initiative operating under the governance of the Office of Management and Budget.
If that still sounds too blah-blah-blah-federal-speak-blah-blah to you, then simply think of Grants.gov as a one-stop online platform where federal agencies post funding opportunities and where your nonprofit can apply for those opportunities.
Grants.gov includes more than 900 grant programs on the website, which are represented by 26 Federal grant-making agencies. These agencies publish their grant announcements on Grants.gov and your nonprofit can create a profile so that you can electronically find and apply for these grant opportunities.
That being said, it is definitely a platform you want to use as a nonprofit or grant writing consultant. Before we get into the nitty-gritty on specific items that you can do on Grants.gov, I want to make sure that everyone is enrolled and has a profile on Grants.gov.
So here goes…
You need to have a profile to use Grants.gov to be able to apply for all those shiny grants. This goes for nonprofits, as well as if you are a grant writer. Why have access as a member to Grants.gov as a grant writer? Well, many times nonprofits you work with will not understand their utilization of Grants.gov. Many times, they will not understand the ever-evolving requirements of applying for grants through Grants.gov. This is especially true in 2018 where the new WorkSpace is required when applying for grants on Grants.gov. Even if the nonprofit is a pro at WorkSpace, they will want to add you as a user so you can directly upload narratives, budgets, or fill out forms like the SF-424 and so forth. To be added as a user you need a profile.
Now registering a profile on Grants.gov is actually pretty simple. But it is the pre-steps that take time and can be a bit of a hair-pulling scream of frustration. So first you need to make sure you have an EIN, DUNS, and are registered on SAM to be able to get a profile on Grants.gov. For grant writers you may use your Social Security Number in place of your EIN, or better yet, go ahead and get an EIN number and use that in place of your SSN as there have been recent hacks into Grants.gov.
Pre-Grants.Gov Profile Step #1: The EIN
The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number, and is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to business entities operating in the United States for the purposes of identification. Bottom line is you need one. This is the easiest step in the entire process and is fairly quick.
If you need to get an EIN, then just jump over to https://www.irs.gov. As stated, applying for an EIN is a simple process where you will first answer eligibility questions concerning your nonprofit. Grant writers, I do recommend getting an EIN for your consulting business. Once you answer all eligibility information you will then have to put in other required information such as mailing address, physical address, type of business, and so forth. This online application will literally take you five to ten minutes to do and then you can download your EIN number immediately, although the process for your EIN to legitimately show up in the IRS system can take up to two weeks.
Quick note: Do this NOW! not the day you are trying to submit a grant on Grants.gov.
10 minutes to fill out the application
Immediate download to access EIN
Up to two weeks to show up in the system
Grants.Gov Profile Step #2: The Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS or D-U-N-S)
DUNS is a proprietary system developed and regulated by Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) that assigns a unique numeric identifier, referred to as a "DUNS number" to a single business entity. Since 2003 the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), announced that a DUNS number is required for all grant applicants. The DUNS number is required whether the application is made electronically or on paper. For those of you who may be listening that are not located in the United States, you can still get a DUNS number and apply for grants on Grants.gov (if you are eligible for the grant requirements). Furthermore, certain countries require all businesses to get DUNS numbers whether they are applying for grants or not.
No matter which country your nonprofit is in, you can visit: http://fedgov.dnb.com and enter your country in the drop-down menu. You will then be asked to enter your company information. Enter your nonprofits name and if it doesn’t come up, because it is not in the system yet, then you can click “Request a New D-U-N-S Number” and you can fill out the appropriate information. Filling out the information takes about ten minutes, but the processing of receiving a DUNS may take anywhere between one to two days. You will receive your DUNS via the email you provide in the application.
10 minutes to fill out online application
One to two days to receive your DUNS
Pre-Grants.Gov Profile Step #3: System for Award Management (SAM)
Grants.gov is a federal database that is online and managed by the U.S. Government. Entities must have an active registration in SAM to do business with the U.S. Government. Visit www.sam.gov to register your nonprofit (or business) into SAM and receive your Cage Code. You will have to submit your EIN and your DUNS to be able to register into SAM and get your Cage Code, or what some people refer to as SAM number. A lot of people (even myself) refer to SAM as the SAM number, but it is your Cage Code that you are applying for through the System for Award Management or SAM. I know, it can be confusing. Another thing to note is that registering on SAM is FREE. If you receive an email requesting a payment for registration into SAM or to update your password, then know without a doubt that this is a scam. As mentioned before, there was a recent hacking into SAM so now there is a required notarization process. Look at the video on grantwritingandfunding.com episode 027 for a quick video on how to get the template for the notarization letter.
This process will take up to two weeks if there are errors. Trust me, 50% of the time there is some minor error that my clients face. This could be entering in their DBA instead of their actual business license name (oops that was me), getting a mailing address wrong, etc. Take note and write down exactly what you have on your 501(c)3 documents or business license, as well as the EXACT same information that was entered on your applications for your EIN and DUNS. One little abbreviation of the word drive to spelling it out completely can trigger something in the review process in SAM. This can be frustrating and add on unnecessary time. Do NOT put this off until the last minute. Do it now so you are prepared when that perfect federal grant application comes up.
30 minutes to fill out online application
Get notarized letter (as long as it takes to fill out template, find a notary, and upload)
Up to two weeks to receive Cage Code via email
Step #4: Registering on Grants.Gov
Okay, you made it. Congratulations! You now have your EIN, DUNS, and SAM. Now you are ready to enroll on Grants.gov. Visit https://www.grants.gov and click “Register” in upper left corner. Once you are on the registration page, you will be asked to enter the following:
First and last name
Security Q & A
Next you will be asked to confirm your email address, click “Send Temporary Code” and grab it from your email and then enter it back onto the Grants.gov webpage.
You are now registered on Grants.gov! The next question is if you would like to add an organization or individual profile or skip the profile. If you only want to receive emails from grants.gov you can skip this step, but if (I hope MOST of you) want to apply for grants, then click on individual or organization profile. To create an organization profile, you must enter the DUNS number, profile name and title. Now if you have an individual account you will not be able to access downloading grant applications that are not eligible to you. This can be frustrating as a grant writer as you may be an individual, but you need to access the applications. That is why I recommend going through all the preliminary steps of getting your EIN, DUNS, and SAM so you can have an organization account.
5 to 10 minutes to register
Once you are on Grants.gov you will have to update your password very frequently. Every 60 days. That is the most frequent password change on any site I have been on. Grants.gov will send an alert email to the email you used when you registered on Grants.gov. Make sure that you use an email you check often and track your passwords.
Next week we will talk more about how to use Grants.gov now that you have full access. As noted before - DO NOT WAIT until a grant is due to apply for a Grants.gov profile. As you can see this process, specifically if you do not have an EIN, DUNS, or SAM, can take weeks to get into place. Do this TODAY because once we start looking at how to use Grants.gov chances are you are going to find some grant opportunities that may or may not be due in less than two weeks.