Grants Glossary – Basic Grant Terminology

Competitive Grants


Grants that are open to any applicant who meets the eligibility requirements. Competitive grants are generally announced through RFPs or CFPs. They are frequently reviewed by committees comprising volunteers who specialize in the subject area. The competitiveness of a grant program can frequently be determined by comparing the dollars available for expenditure through the program in that fiscal year to the award limit or ceiling, as stated in the RFP.

Call for Proposals (CFP) / Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) / Request for Proposals (RFP)


The announcement made by the authorizing agency requesting applications from potential grant recipients. CFPs generally contain program objectives, guidelines, eligibility, budget, award limitations and specific instructions for proposal submission. CFPs should always be carefully read and precisely followed. Also known as a request for proposal (RFP), notice of funds availability (NOFA), or broad agency announcement (BAA).

DUNS Number


The Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System number, or “DUNS,” is a nine-digit figure given by Dun and Bradstreet to applicant organizations and serves as a means of identifying those organizations and businesses. DUN’s numbers are frequently required on federal grant forms.

Formula Grants


Grants distributed based on a calculation to address a specific issue or need. The calculations, or formulas, are frequently based at least in part on population. Other factors, depending upon the purpose of the grant, may include crime statistics or poverty indexes.

In-kind Match


Sometimes referred to as a “soft” match, in-kind matches are goods, services or other things of value that will directly support the requested project and are being provided through sources outside of the funder. If the RFP specifies that applicants must match a percentage of the grant and that they can do so through in-kind matches, the value of the in-kind services should be determined based on fair market prices and represented in the proposal budget.

Letter of Intent


A letter submitted prior to a proposal stating an organization’s intent to apply to a grant program. Requirements for letters of intent vary, but many federal agencies require only a statement of intent. Letters of intent help authorizing agencies to fine-tune their review process prior to the proposal deadline.



The document(s) submitted by a grant applicant, generally in response to an RFP. While proposals vary in length and content depending upon the requirements of the grant program, they generally include a proposal narrative, explaining the needs, goals, implementation plan and evaluation plan for the proposed initiative, a budget and a budget narrative, which provides a clear and concise description of every line item on the budget.

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