99 grant acronyms on the wall…

March 29, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

The universe of federal grants is renowned for acronyms, abbreviations, and confusing terminology. What’s an AOR with MPIN or a pass-through entity? If your organization participates in the federal grants system, you’ll need to get a grip on this particular brand of jargon.

“To interpret application guidelines accurately and communicate effectively with federal grants staff, you’ve got to understand the lingo,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

“There are lots of glossaries, but not one authoritative repository,” said Floersch. To upgrade this particular set of language skills you’ll have to study a few different sources.”

The Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) website offers a directory of grant terminology as part of its Grants Learning Center. The directory is not extensive but it’s a good place to start.

Many federal agencies define terms relating to their own grants. Look for a glossary on the websites of the agencies with which you most frequently do business. For example, glossaries are available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Specialized glossaries are also available. For example, the Government Accountability Office offers a glossary of terms used in the federal budget process, and the new Uniform Guidance on managing grants from the Office of Management and Budget (CFR 200) defines 99 acronyms and terms in Subpart A.

The challenges of dealing with the fine print and red tape of federal grants are intensified when you don’t have a clear understanding of terminology. “Becoming comfortable with this language can relieve some of the stress of working with the federal system,” said Floersch. ©Copyright 2016 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.

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