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Anything and Everything You Need to Know About Government Grants

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This blog is a recap of our latest webinar, “Anything and Everything You Need to Know About Government Grants.”

To access the free on-demand recording, click here

2021 is just around the corner, and if you're like the rest of grant professionals managing funding during times of crisis, you're probably still reeling from this year. That’s why we wanted to offer the opportunity to answer any lingering questions you have about any and all things related to your grants management.

 In eCivis' recent webinar, Maria Howeth, Certified Grants Management Specialist and Senior Customer Success Manager, teamed up with our Vice President of Indirect Services, Nicky Lettini, to answer government professionals’ questions on everything from grants to indirect costs to Uniform Grant Guidance and more. Here’s a roundup of the top questions that came up.

What are allowable expenditures under the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF)?

Title V of the CARES Act lists three criteria that must be met for the expense to be considered allowable. These three criteria state use of funds are allowable if they:

  • Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19);
  • Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of the date of enactment of this section; and 
  • Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

What are the most important changes to be aware of in the latest Uniform Grant Guidance updates?

For terminology in 2 CFR 200, the CFDA in acronyms were removed and replaced with “assistance listing” and “standard form” was changed to “common form.” Structurally, the fixed award amount now applies to both grants and cooperative agreements.

Secondly, 2 CFR 183 "Never Contract with the Enemy” was created to help meet statutory requirements and applies to grants and cooperative agreements exceeding $50,000. Ultimately it applies to those who are actively opposing the U.S. or coalition forces involved in a contingency operation in which members of the Armed Forces are actively engaged in hostilities. 

For more on Uniform Grant Guidance, you can read a full breakdown in our blog here

How many types of grants are there?

The following types of grant funding are most relevant to state and local governments. 

1. Competitive funding: Recipients are not pre-determined and funding is based on the merits of an application. Applicants must respond to a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and ensure they can meet the stringent requirements of the grant while ensuring it is a suitable fit for their own needs. The best place to start searching for competitive funding is grants.gov.

2. Continuation funding (formula or entitlement grant dollars): These types of programs offer current award recipients the option to extend grants for the following year. While some programs are restricted to recipients only, others invite applications from existing recipients and new applicants. 

3. Mandatory grant (formula grant funding): As opposed to competitive funding, formula grants are given to pre-determined recipients. These types of awards are usually allocated to eligible entities according to population and/or other census criteria, and all applicants who meet the minimum requirements of the application process are entitled to receive money, i.e. CARES Act funding for counties with over 500,000 populations receiving direct funding.

4. Pass-through funding: Pass-through entities, such as state and local jurisdictions, whether through competitive or formula grants, can channel funds directly to local governments and nonprofits serving communities. 

You can read more about types of grant fundings in this blog here

What is the difference between supplanting vs. supplementing?

Supplement means to “build upon” or “add to” while supplant means to “replace” or “take the place of." Here are two important considerations:

  1. Federal law prohibits recipients of federal funds from replacing state, local, or agency funds with federal funds. Existing funds for a project and its activities may not be displaced by federal funds and reallocated for other organizational expenses.
  2. However, federal agencies encourage supplementing (adding federal funds) to what is available in state, local, or agency funds.

You can read more about the supplanting vs. supplementing in this blog here

What are direct vs. indirect costs at the federal level?

Direct costs are expenses that can be traced directly to (or identified with) a specific cost center or cost object such as a department, process, or product. They can also be assigned to a particular service and can include labor, service, and supplies.

Indirect costs, on the other hand, cannot be easily assigned to a particular service and are incurred for a common purpose. They may be either fixed or variable and they are not directly accountable to a cost object like a project, facility, or function.

You can read more about indirect costs in this blog here

What is a cost allocation plan?

A cost allocation plan is a tool used to calculate the “total indirect costs” of the Central Support Departments/program (e.g. Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Facilities, etc.) to distribute to Receiving departments/ programs/grants (Health and Human Services, Community Development, other Enterprise Funds, Grants etc.) in order to get reimbursement for services rendered. 

How do I apply my cost plan?

Your cost plan is important to fully understand the true costs of a department so that your leadership team can effectively manage the agency or department’s resources and demands.

For example, for a federal state grant reimbursement, you can leverage a cost plan to maximize your grant funding. You can leverage reimbursement for services from non-General Fund operations within the agency. Additionally, a cost plan helps you calculate the indirect costs for more strategic budget decisions like determining whether to take or pass on a grant.

You can read more about cost allocation plans in this blog here

What are the average rates across governments and nonprofits?

  • Government: Rates vary depending on agencies but the average is 40 percent to 100 percent.
  • Nonprofit: Nonprofits do everything possible to keep indirect rates as small as possible: The average indirect rates reported are 20 percent to 50 percent while the average reported is 5 to 10 percent.
  • Tribal government: Again, rates vary depending on governments and agencies but the average tribal rates reported are 10 to 30 percent. The average indirect cost when including tribal funds is 2 to 80 percent.

Got more questions? Reach out to our certified grants management specialists and experts by emailing info@ecivis.com