Last Updated:

September 14, 2023

A 2023's Guide to Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)


September 13, 2023

A 2023's Guide to Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)

There are thousands of funding opportunity announcements (FOA) flooding the internet that could be the next opportunity for your organization to secure much-needed funding.

If your nonprofit is looking for grants, funding opportunity announcements are a great place to start.

This article will explain the overall concept of FOAs, along with some historical background and how they have evolved over time. We will also share how you can find these opportunities, interpret them, and develop effective proposals.

Let’s get started.

Introduction to Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)


Federal agencies use funding opportunity announcements (FOA) to publicly advertise their federal grant funds that are available to the public.

There are currently thousands of grant opportunities listed on numerous sites online, allowing nonprofits and research organizations to apply for funding to drive different projects and initiatives.

Defining a Funding Opportunity Announcement

An FOA is a public notice that announces a federal grant funding opportunity.

Federal agencies will use FOAs to promote either discretionary grants, which award funds competitively between applicants, or cooperative agreements between two entities.

Most FOAs will be formatted in the same way and include the following:

  • The program’s description, mission, goals, and objectives
  • Contact information
  • Whether the award is a discretionary grant or a cooperative agreement
  • Eligibility information
  • Important dates, including the application due date
  • Funding opportunity number and reporting requirements
  • Application and submission instructions

The example below is the cover page of an FOA from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Energy Resources (found on and includes the funding and deadline information, award amount available, and program description:

FOA from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Energy Resources

Importance of FOAs for Nonprofits and Research Entities

FOAs can help nonprofits and research entities quickly identify good-fit funding opportunities.

FOAs include a federal agency’s funding intent in a straightforward manner, so nonprofit organizations and research entities can quickly ascertain whether the award will complement the goals and mission of their organization.

In addition, the first page of an FOA makes it very clear how much the funding is for and when the application is due. There is also an eligibility section so that nonprofits can determine right away if they are even eligible to apply for funding; nonprofits should check this section first so that time is not wasted reviewing the entire FOA if they are ineligible.

The Rise of Formal Funding Announcements

FOAs were created to allow federal agencies to have a streamlined way to formally announce grant funding opportunities either through their own websites or through and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Guide to Grants and Contracts website.

The latter two websites standardize government funding opportunities by putting all of the grant information, application instructions, and award information in one place. That way, your federal grant search can be streamlined through one place; that is, you do not need to navigate through hundreds of federal websites to find a grant that fits your nonprofit’s needs.

There are two primary types of FOAs that have risen in popularity over the years: Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements (PAs). Parent Announcements are also available as a popular type of PA.

Another funding opportunity that has risen in popularity through the NIH website is called Notices of Special Interest (NOSIs). NOSIs focus on a specific topic of interest. For example, if your nonprofit is interested in a particular area of scientific research, you may be able to search NOSIs for a compatible funding opportunity.

There has also been some confusion recently with modern FOAs because of a new term that has arisen—a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

What does this new term refer to and has it replaced the FOA term?

The short answer is no—NOFOs have not replaced FOAs. Although some websites claim the FOA acronym has been retired, on March 9, 2023 the NIH tweeted that both NOFOs and FOAs are still funding opportunities.

Key Elements of an FOA


As noted above, websites like can streamline your FOA search.

For example, for nonprofits interested in primary and secondary education, we searched the term “k-12” in the site and located 838 matching results!

Once you find a funding opportunity that aligns with the mission of your nonprofit, you can check out the FOA for more details to decide if this funding opportunity is worth pursuing for your nonprofit.

Here are the key elements of an FOA you should pay special attention to:

Understanding the Purpose and Objective

The first thing you will want to review on an FOA is the overall alignment between your nonprofit and the purpose and objective of the funding opportunity.

It is important to only apply for grants that align with your nonprofit’s mission and programs because you’ll have a much better chance of winning the funding.

Every FOA will include a detailed description of the funding opportunity and its goals and objectives. You can review this information to determine whether your nonprofit would be a good fit for that particular funding opportunity.

Funding Amount and Duration

The funding amount and duration of an FOA is usually listed prominently at the beginning of the announcement and then again with more details within the FOA itself (in Section two of Part two of an NIH FOA).

For example, in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Energy Resources FOA we illustrated earlier, you can see that the total amount of funding available is $5 million.

It then detailed that they would be allocating 1 or 2 awards that could have a minimum award amount of $1 million and a maximum of $5 million. The deadline for this FOA was also detailed—both the specific date and time (EST).

This prominent information can tell you right away whether the funding is for the amount your nonprofit is looking for and whether you have enough time to even complete your proposal.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants

FOA will often include bolded headers titled “Eligibility Information” which may detail the following:

  • The location of your nonprofit (i.e., must be a United States nonprofit or governmental organization or can be a foreign nonprofit organization).
  • Specifications like educational or public international institutions.
  • Valid registrations on, which is a free site used to register to do business with the U.S. government.
  • Technical eligibility requirements to actually submit the forms.

Other eligibility requirements could be specific to your nonprofit—whether you are a small organization, work with animals, etc.

Understanding your eligibility is essential before starting your proposal.

Proposal Submission Requirements

Are you reviewing an FOA on the NIH website? Section four, Part two is an extremely important section! This is where you will find all of the forms needed for the application and submission process. You’ll want to review this section carefully because all of the forms are listed here, along with specific instructions and deadline information.

Other FOAs have similar information within their Application and Submission sections. For example, they may detail the following:

  • All documents must be in English
  • Pages must be numbered
  • All documents must be formatted to fit 8.5 x 11 paper with 1-inch margins
  • Proposals must clearly address the goals and objectives of the FOA
  • They must use Microsoft Word and be single-spaced
  • Times New Roman, 12-point font must be used

Yes, the bullets above are from an actual FOA! Section five of an NIH FOA contains further application review information and the criteria used to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of your application. You’ll want to make sure your proposal addresses all of the criteria listed here.

Evaluation and Selection Process

Finally, all FOAs will detail the evaluation and selection process. This section could include anything from the quality and feasibility of your program, your organization’s capacity, and your ability to measure program success.

Many FOAs include a helpful list of agency contacts that can answer any questions about submitting your application.

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Where to Find FOAs


Some federal agencies post FOAs on their websites, but the two of the best ways to search for all FOAs is by visiting and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Guide to Grants and Contracts website at

Government Sources (e.g., is a federal-wide portal for all grant-making agencies and has an easy-to-use “Search Grants” tab.

You can either search using a keyword(s) or by specific criteria. Just make sure you use the specific keywords or search criteria that relate directly to what you would like the grant to achieve as it relates to your nonprofit organization.

The NIH website also has a keyword search area where you can use various filters to narrow your search results to specific organizations, activity codes, and the types of funding opportunities.

The NIH search mechanism is beneficial because you can export your results to Excel, share your search queries with others, and even save your search results and have updates on your search emailed to you daily, weekly, or monthly. You can also sign up for NIH postings and receive their weekly emails that review their weekly postings on the site.

Other government organizations advertise their FOAs directly on their websites, including the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Labor, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

If you know specifically what your nonprofit is interested in pursuing, you may be able to save some search time by going directly to the specific government entities that have a mission that mirrors your own. Check out this article on how to match your grant application interests to funder interests for more insights and tips.

Private Foundations and Corporate Philanthropies

Private foundation and corporate philanthropy grants can be a generous and reliable source of funding for your nonprofit organization. For example, the National Philanthropic Trust is a good place to start.

To find other charitable donations by private organizations, check out our guide here for 2023.

Industry and Trade Associations

There are also government agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission, that directly link to industry and trade associations announcing funding opportunities. However, these could be difficult to find and you probably will save time using or another grants database for a more comprehensive search.

Academic and Research Institutions

If you have academic and research institutions in your area, you can also search their website for funding opportunities.

For example, Penn State University’s College of Education consistently lists their internal and federal agency funding opportunities, along with other external funding opportunities.

Decoding the FOA: Tips for a Successful Application


No matter what type of funding opportunity you discover, each one will have a specific budget, program, and mission of the sponsoring institute. Here are some tips you can use to make sure you submit an application successfully.

Reading Between the Lines: What Funders Want

When deciding whether to pursue an FOA grant, make sure to pay special attention to the federal organization’s purpose and the budget of the grant. You should ask yourself this question: what funding is available, and it is enough to help you achieve your own organization’s goals?

You will also want to pay close attention to the FOA’s review criteria, as this is what the federal agency will use to evaluate the merit of your proposal. Make sure your proposal addresses each of the listed review criteria.

Curious what makes a grant proposal stand out? Check out this guide to successful grant applications.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid in FOA Interpretation

Each FOA will include specific application instructions.

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking these instructions or failing to adhere to all of the requirements.

As long as you follow the proper guidance, you should be able to avoid common pitfalls that will more than likely have your proposal returned due to errors. We have some successful grant proposal examples you can check out to show you how to write a winning grant application for your nonprofit organization.

The Relationship Between FOAs and Grant Proposals


The FOA’s specific instructions and guidelines will shape your grant proposal’s content.

How an FOA Shapes the Content of a Grant Proposal

Part one of the FOA details all of the information about the participating organizations and their missions. Make sure your proposal fits within the mission of the institutes and/or centers listed in part one of the FOA.

The Significance of Addressing Every FOA Requirement in Proposals

When you find an FOA that has a similar mission to your own, you will notice that the FOA clearly explains the program’s overall purpose and goals.

A common mistake grant proposal writers make is not addressing every FOA requirement in their proposal. You will want to ensure you review—and re-review—parts one and two of the FOA to guarantee you are addressing each requirement.

For more information on the key components to your grant proposal, visit our essential strategies and tips guide specifically tailored for nonprofit grant writing.

Ensuring Continuity: From FOA Interpretation to Proposal Submission

Finally, you will need to ensure you maintain a continuity within your proposal from the beginning interpretation of the FOA to your final proposal submission. Coherence is also key here—some new proposal writers may hit each FOA requirement in their proposal, yet each section seems to pertain to a different proposal.

Your proposal needs to flow logically and maintain a consistent structure—why is your proposal worth considering? How would the funding make a difference? What would your approach be? Answering these questions will help you maintain a coherent structure and make sure your proposal is easy to follow.

Wrapping Up: The Next Steps


There are numerous federal opportunity announcement prospects online that could help fund your nonprofit’s mission.

By knowing where to look for FOAs, interpreting them correctly, and formulating a coherent grant proposal, you can increase the chances of your nonprofit receiving an award to help further your organization’s goals.

To quickly and easily find funding opportunities that align with your nonprofit’s mission and goals, check out Instrumentl. We make finding funding opportunities easy by automatically connecting you with grants that match your organization's needs and programs. Sign up for a free 14 day trial today.

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