A) The US State Department
The US State Department advertises grants through a website called grants.gov, which is the official federal government website. Accordingly, the best way to find information about open calls, possibilities for cooperative projects, and funding allocated for special schemes is to check this website in a consistent way.
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Consider that this website is led by the Department of Health and Human Services but it displays calls initiated by over 26 Federal grant-making agencies and, according to the website, it issues over $350 billion in annual reward. It is a good idea to ask to a member of staff to monitor this website on a weekly basis and let the other members aware of any new relevant calls as soon as It appears.
You can browse the website and find the grant opportunity that matches the scopes of your NGO. Once a call is selected you can access of the relative documentation otherwise called the “application package” where you will find all the information required to fill in the application forms and tips elaborated to help and support you in the application process. Once you have targeted the call you want to answer, you have to register with the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to submit all the necessary documents.
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Remember that grants.gov does not only fund NGOs, but also governmental, educational, public housing, and for-profit organisations. Accordingly, you should spare some times to read carefully through the various calls posted to understand whether NGOs are eligible or not. Yet, the navigation of the website is not difficult and calls are pre-arranged into categories such as “arts”, “housing”, “education” and so forth in order to make it easier for you to find calls related to the ongoing activities of your NGO.
Before starting keep in mind that applications for US agencies are long and laborious. It is of utter importance to read through all the various packages made available to help those filling in the application forms. Also, it is important to apply with strong projects (well written, thought and developed) because the competition for these funds is fierce.
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If you are considering applying for a grant from the US State Department, you should firstly consider the US funding strategies at large. These strategies respond to geographical concerns, but also to socio-political needs and issues.
1. Geographical Areas and their priorities
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The Secretary of Political Affairs has 6 areas of interest grouped as such: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Eurasia and Europe, Near East, and West Hemisphere. For each region there are a number of hot topics towards which financial help is given. Overall, attention is paid to issues of democracy building, human rights, strengthening of the civil society and economy. More information is available by consulting www.state.gov where you will be able to find what are the main targets and issues to deal with for the US in your own geographical area.
2. Economy, Energy, and the Environment
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If your organisation works in this field, you will be happy to know that the US State devolves funding to support NGOs working in same area. In particular, you should monitor the calls published under the “Global Partnership Initiative”, which aims to support both the private sector and civil society to promote economic growth and a more just society (they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account that you should consider following!).
3. Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Right
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The Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Right aims to assist members of the civil society around the globe towards the construction of more democratic, stable, secure, and just societies. As such, it is important to monitor the activities and notices of the Secretary as they are of utmost interest for NGOs working worldwide. In particular, you should connect via Twitter and Facebook to the Office of Global Youth, which has the goal of empowering young people as economic and civic actors. Make sure to read through the material they prepare to enhance your possibilities to secure funding by the US State for instance by citing their reports and making sure that you know what is the current US funding strategy for strengthening youth participation and activism in your region.
The United States Agency for International Development was born more than 50 years ago with the aim of developing assistance “from the American People”. As such, USAID offers a number of small and large grants every year to support actors of the civil society in areas affected by war, natural calamities, or social upheaval. Core areas of interventions are food and nutrition, population planning, health, education, development of human resources, and democracy.
It is possible to obtain funding from USAID by
– Becoming a Partner. In this way USAID will not only fund your activities, but it will substantially become involved in the day-by-day running of your NGO and through educational programmes and trainings for staff. You can become a partner of USAID by answering to specific calls that are disseminated in accordance to the development plan elaborated for the country where the NGO works or, you could propose yourself by direct enquire (visit their website for contact information)
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– Applying for a grant. USAID will not become involved in the development of your project, but it will support it financially. Calls for applications are advertised in the USAID website as well as through grants.gov