Government grants are provided by the federal government, state governments and local municipal governments to assist organizations and businesses in successfully delivering programs or services that support a defined cause. Government grants opportunities most often seek to address pre-determined social problems and most solicitations ask a potential grantee to explain how the solution that they are proposing is the best approach to address the problem. In an effort to best address these problems, government grants are offered in several forms. Some government grants are simply an award of funds that do not have to repaid, while others are matching grants or block grants. This article seeks to examine the difference between “regular” or categorical government grants and matching government grants and block government grants.

Explanation of Matching Grants

A number of government grants require an entity applying for these funds to match the government’s contribution to the grant. These matching government grants will specify how the entity is to match these funds. Often times the individual, organization or business is required to provide a cash match for the funds allocated by the government. However, some matching government grants will allow an entity, specifically a non-profit, to match a grant through in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions can be through donated goods or donated time from volunteers. The Request for Proposal (RFP) for a matching government grant will specify whether the grant match is to be matched with cash, in-kind contributions, or through a combination of cash and in-kind contributions. For example, the Victims of Crime Act Grant program solicitation notes that subgrantees “are required to provide a 20% cash and/or in-kind match. Applicants may meet this match using volunteer labor – in fact, VOCA requires subgrantees to use volunteers.” For more information on the VOCA matching government grant, visit: Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Explanation of Block Grants

Other government grant opportunities in the form of block grants are provided by government entities. Block government grants are pre-determined sums of money from the federal government, which are typically rather large, that are awarded to states based on a formula. Block grants have less federal oversight, thus states possess greater freedom in designing and implementing programs that they believe best address the problems which the grant funds seek to address or ultimately solve. As an example, the US Department of Health and Human Services allocates a Social Services Block Grant to states and territories for them to administer programs to assist needy individuals and families. For more information on the Social Services Block Grant, visit: U.S. Government Site of Department of Health and Human Services.

The terminology and differing requirements of government grants can seem to be overwhelming at first, however, it is important to note that understanding these terms and requirements is key in determining which type of grant is the “best fit” for the project for which you are seeking funding. For additional information on applying for a government grant, visit the article entitled Federal Grants.

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