Grants Definitions and Acronyms-Illinois Department of Human Services

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

Grants Administration

Term Acronym Definition


Awarding agency's formal published statement of the availability of federal funding through one of its assistance programs. The announcement invites applications and provides information such as eligibility and evaluation criteria, funding preferences and priorities, procedures for obtaining application kits and submission deadlines.


Certain requirements that ensure applicants' compliance with Federal Law, e.g., Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.


Financial assistance that provides support or stimulation to accomplish a public purpose. Awards include grants and other agreements in the form of money, or property in lieu of money, by the Federal Government to an eligible recipient.

Best Practices

Interventions that incorporate the best objective information currently available from recognized experts regarding effectiveness and acceptability

Block Grant

Type of mandatory grant in which the recipients (normally states) have substantial authority over the type of activities to support, with minimal federal administrative restrictions. The basic premise is that states should be free to target resources and design administrative mechanisms to provide services to meet the needs of their residents.

Budget Period

The interval of time (usually 12 months) into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.

Capacity Building

An activity used to expand the abilities of a person or organization beyond their current limits.

Catchment Area

The geographic area served by a funded program.


Section of the grant application kit that sets forth certain requirements concerning debarment and suspension, drug-free workplace requirements, lobbying, the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act and environmental tobacco smoke with which an organization must comply if a grant is awarded.


A mutually beneficial and well-designed relationship entered into by two or more individuals or organizations to achieve common goals.

Community-based Organizations

Human service organizations that provide services to residents of the community.

Comparison Data

Data from a similar project against which an organization can compare its own project's data.

Compassion Capital Fund

The Compassion Capital Fund represents the first appropriated federal funds specifically targeted for faith- and community-based organizations. Intermediary organizations that receive these funds issue sub-awards and provide technical assistance to help faith- and community-based organizations support startup costs, operations or expansion of programs, particularly in the areas of homelessness, hunger and the needs of at-risk children, transition from welfare to work, and those in need of intensive rehabilitation (e.g., addicts, prisoners).

Continuation Grant

Annual award given by the Federal Government for a multi-year project, for award years after year one. Continued funding is contingent upon availability of funding and the project's progress and accountability.

Cooperative Agreements

Form of grant distinguished from other grants in that substantial involvement is anticipated between the federal awarding office and the recipient during performance of the funded activity.


A public, for-profit organization-the corporate giving section of an organization funds projects of interest to or compatible with its mission.

Cost-Sharing or Matching

Value of allowable non-federal contributions toward the allowable costs of a federal grant project or program. Such contributions may be cash or in-kind.


Verbal discussion of a grant application after a determination has been made to either approve or deny it. The debriefing analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of both the process and the application with a view to learning and improving for a subsequent grant writing activity.

Discretionary Grant

Funds given by the Fedral Government, which according to specific authorizing legislation, exercised judgment (discretion) in selecting the applicant/recipient organization, through a competitive grant process. Types of activities commonly supported by discretionary grants include demonstration, research, training, service and construction projects or programs. Discretionary grants are sometimes referred to as project grants.

Donor's Forum

An association of Chicago-area grants makers that promotes effective and responsive philanthropy. The Forum conducts educational programs and workshops and has an extensive library of publications, research projects and resources for grant seekers.


The objective and careful examination and appraisal of a project.

Executive Summary

Brief written document highlightling the main findings and recommendations of a longer report.

Faith-based Organiztions

Groups or organizations that provide human services and have a faith element integrated into their organization.

Federal Register

The official daily publication for rules, proposed rules and notices of federal agencies and organizations funding and guidelines, as well as Executive Orders and other presidential documents.

Focus Group A small group selected from a wider population and sampled, as by open discussion, for its members' opinions about or emotional response to a particular subject or area.

Formula Grant

Funds allocated by the Federal Government, the amounts of which are made on the basis of established data, e.g., population size.


A privately owned organization that receives funds from endowments to dispense through grants in prescribed areas of interest.


The funding mechanism used by the Federal Government when the principal purpose of the transaction is the transfer of money, property, services, or anything of value to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute.


The individual or organizational entity to which a grant is awarded. This individual or organization is responsible and accountable both for the use of the funds provided and for the performance of the grant-supported project or activities.

Guidance for Applicants GFA See the definition for Request for Applications (RFA).

In-kind Contribution Non-cash contributions (e.g., facilities, space, services) that are derived from non-federal sources, such as state or sub-state non-federal revenues, foundation grants, or contributions from other non-federal public or privte entities.

Indirect Costs

Costs that cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, program or activity, but are necessary to the operations of the organization. For example, the costs of operating and maintaining the facilities, depreciation and fiscal salaries are generally treated as indirect costs.


Written explanation of either budget or program in a grant application to expand on or clarify summary facts, numbers or dollar amounts.

Notices of Funding Availability (NOFA)

Announcements that appear in the Federal Register, printed each business day by the U.S. Government, inviting applications for federal grant programs. NOFAs generally include information on eligibility, funding areas, amount of funding, deadline for submission of applications and contact information.

Notice of Grant Award (NOGA)

A legally binding document that notifies the recipient and others that a grant has been awarded. It contains or refers to all terms of the award, and it documents the obligation of federal funds in the HHS accounting system. Also known as NGA.


Commnunity organizations or groups that associate and collaborate for services.

Project Director/Manager

The individual designated by the recipient to direct the project or program being supported by a grant. He or she is responsible and accountable to officials of the recipient organization for the proper conduct of the project. The organization is, in turn, responsible and accountable to the federal funding agency for the performance and financial aspects of the grant-supported activity.

Project Officer (PO)

The individual designed as the federal official responsible for the programmatic, scientific and/or technical aspects of HHS programs. This individual is sometimes referred to as the Government Project Officer. He or she serves as the counterpart to the Department's Grants Managemnt Officer, who is responsible for all business management aspects of the grant.

Request for Applications (RFA)

Grant announcement that contains all the instructions and information needed to prepare a grant application. It describes the intent and goals of the program; provides special requirements, applicable policies and procedures; and includes complete guidance for preparing and submitting an application. In some programs, the RFA was previously referred to as the Guidance for Applicants (GFA).


An individual, organization, constituent group, or other entity that has an interest in and will be affected by a proposed grant project.

Supplemental Grant

Funds given by the Fedral Government in addition to the annual award for the same period of time. The supplemental grant funds initially unforeseen expenses, are now recognized and needed to fulfill the project requirements.


Refers to the continued existence or ability to maintain a project after government funds expire.

Target Population

The population to be served by the funding, i.e., youth, women, TANF recipients, etc.

Technical Assistance (TA)

Training provided to help prospective applicants to better understand the agency's approach to implementing the competitive grant process. Participants learn how to write a successful grant application. The training is designed to include the basics of grant writing, including how to apply for federal funds, the program eligibility requirements, the application review and selection process, and considerations that might help writers to improve the quality of their grant applications.


A standardized chart or form used to report information from multiple users.

Terms and Conditions

All legal requirements imposed on a grant by the federal awarding agency, whether by statute, by regulation or with the grant award document. Each notice of grant award may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to attain the objectives of the grant, facilitate post-award administration of the grant, conserve grant funds or otherwise protect the Federal Government's interests.

Wraparound Service

Supportive services, such as child care or transportation, that are designed to improve the individual's access to and retention in the proposed project.