Getting started on Grants.gov

2 Nov

I’ve been putting off continuing my discussion of Grants.gov because it is such a painful topic. Once you use it a few times, it’s not so bad. But getting yourself set up is torture.

The system is not intuitive. If you have never used it, you need to carefully follow the instructions for registering your organization. Read the tutorial and use the checklist. Start the process 30 days before your deadline. Seriously. Some of the steps take days for you to complete and days to go through the system.

Aside from getting a DUNS number, the first step is to register with Central Contractor Registration (CCR), which is the federal government’s registry for vendors, for and nonprofit like. The directions say that it only takes half an hour to complete the form, but that is only if you know or have access to all of the information requested. You may have to go digging for some of this. Once you do complete the form, it can take up to 72 hours for it to go through. In this step, you will designate an E-Business Point of Contact for your agency, which should be your CFO or equivalent.

Once you receive notification of the CCR process being successful, you go back in and create a user name and password.

Got it? Not through yet. Go back to Grants.gov and designate an Authorized Organization Represenattive (AOR) who can actually submit the grant.

Now you’re ready? Nope–and it is this one last step that hung me up once on a deadline. You need to have your E-Business Point of Contact go into the system and click one little box that allows your AOR to submit the grant. Thankfully, this step is processed almost instantly. But please don’t wait to do it. You will not be able to submit a grant until this step is done.

The problem with the system is that everything looks fine until you try to submit something and you can’t. There isn’t anything tracking this for you and counting down steps. I highly suggest you use the checklist and physically cross off each step as you go.

You can always call Grants.gov and have them clarify where you actually are in the process and what needs to be done next. They are completely willing to help. Because the system is not user-friendly or intuitive, you sometimes don’t know what you haven’t done yet until it’s too late.

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