THE CONCEPT AND REALITY OF FEDERAL FUNDING IS CONFUSING AND ALLURING. THE PROCESS IS
BLACK AND WHITE, AND IT IS GRAY. AND THIS IS WHY SOME REVEL IN THE PURSUIT AND OTHERS
WATCH AND WONDER.
to lead the development of a comprehensive solution for areas
the new administration targets. Be willing to modify, expand
or reshape your current programs to build the best solution.
Solutions that are clear and measurable are easy to fund and
spotlight at the federal level.
FEDERAL FUNDING TIPS
The concept and reality of federal funding is confusing and alluring.
The process is black and white, and it is gray. And this is why
some revel in the pursuit and others watch and wonder. In general,
federal funding is distributed through three categories: congressional appropriations, formal solicitations and discretionary grants.
• Funds appropriated by Congress through legislation are distributed and monitored by the appropriate federal agency
(Department of Labor, Department of Energy, etc.). The desirable portion of congressional appropriations, and that for
which lobbying efforts abound, are earmarks.
• At the agency level, formal requests for proposals are
released for programs and services and may be monitored
• Agencies also have discretionary funds that may be granted
to address national initiatives identified by the president and
the president’s cabinet. National demonstration projects or
programs with an unrivaled uniqueness may fit this category.
Examples of the $288 million in grants awarded in the Bush
administration’s High Growth Job Training Initiative may be
It is my experience that association services and capabilities
fit well in discretionary grants for high-priority initiatives. Associations with a well-packaged solution for which federal support
would make a national demonstration for others to duplicate or
implement may catch the attention of policymakers. Explore the
programs or services your association currently has or has the
capability to quickly stand up for which federal resources could
help expand to reach more individuals, communities or states;
be duplicated in other companies or industries; or provide statistics or research data to illustrate or clarify challenges and trends.
The winds of change have swept through Washington, and as
the dust settles opportunities abound. The impact will be felt
by every industry throughout our nation. Package your message
and your members with a strategy for engagement for the first
100 days and beyond.
Anna Critz Rubin is vice president of connections for The Communicators.
Rubin’s 20 years of leadership and consulting with associations and nonprofit
organizations in Washington, D.C., and the Midwest includes her experience as
special assistant at the U.S. Department of Education. She may be reached at