Categories on this Site

Agreements and the Regulations

The agreement with the funder is the pivotal document for grant recipients. It tells you what you have to do in order to stay in the funder's good graces and optimize cost recovery. The agreement invokes the regulations and other special and standard provisions. And in doing so, it imposes numerous interesting restrictions that make your life more interesting. (Think of them as job security; that's more productive than hating them.)

Organizational Structure and Operating Environment

Several key factors determine what your organization does and how you do it. Understanding these factors provides the context necessary for you to intelligently use the grant funds that you receive. Topics in this category further explore issues such as: organizational legal status, registrations, internal governance, and operating policies and procedures.


In order to spend money, you must first have money (or at least the promise of it) to spend. Where does your organization’s money come from? Are you independently endowed? Are you supported by a broad membership base? Do you have a commercial business that generates income that you can use for your charitable purposes? Or do you rely almost exclusively on the gifts of donors (funders) for all of the money that you spend? How do you ask for money? When you received it, how (and when) do you recognize the revenue? Topics in this category include: bids and proposals, unrestricted revenue and restricted revenue.

Cost Sharing

Sometimes the principal funder of a project isn’t able or willing to pay the full cost of the project. What are your options in approaching such a situation? Topics in this category include: in-kind contributions from partners, cash from other donors, and/or cash from unrestricted reserve.

The Twin Concepts of Acquisition and Assistance

US law divides Federal awards into these two broad categories. In order to harmonize your business terminology with that of the US Government, particularly if you issue subgrants, your organization may choose to apply this same basic distinction to your many expenditures.


You might say that your organization is in the business of spending money. Beneficial impact is your essential mission, and spending money is how you accomplish that mission. Many nonprofit employees find that their job description includes activities that involve spending money on behalf of the organization. Topics in this category include: buying goods and services, hiring consultants and staff, and issuing assistance awards (subgrants).

Cost Recovery

The vast majority of your revenue likely comes to you as cost-reimbursable Federal grants. Under such grants, money is given to you solely as reimbursement for actual, allowable costs. This fact makes the concept of “cost recovery” - a fundamental feature of your business model. Topics include: cost accounting and the notion of “cost objectives,” cost allocation principles, basic rules of cost that determine “allowability,” and special restrictions imposed by some funding agencies.

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