Access to a variety of technologies and the implementation of those technologies by government agencies is changing the needs of those looking for funding. These technologies, such as web services and RSS feeds, are not new, but their existence and widespread use might force one to question the value of some historic practices.
Grants.gov is a prime example of a government agency employing technologies to better service its consumers. Grants.gov provides a variety of automatic email notifications, RSS feeds, and search tools to help potential applicants find and track opportunities that may be of interest to them. For Grants.gov alone, which is supposed to provide a single database of all federal grant opportunities, 5 search tools, 4 RSS feeds, 2 general email notifications, and 2 configurable email notifications are provided. Combined, this provides the ability to receive updates regarding opportunities, with both broad and narrow criteria, on nearly any electronic device and platform that can be conceived of. Theoretically, this provides any person the ability to keep up to date with opportunities from US Federal agencies, and many other government agencies are providing similar tools.
At the same time, services like InfoEd Global’s SPIN have committed to covering these sponsors in their entirety, surveying Grants.gov, the Federal Register, and FedBizOpps on a regular basis to ensure that these funding opportunities are kept up to date. Certainly this adds some value, since these opportunities are now indexed and categorized along with the vast quantity of other opportunities in these databases. For those that utilize services like Grants.gov’s RSS feeds, these opportunities can generally be easily filtered out of the search results. However, in a world of finite resources, it eventually becomes necessary to ask if this is time well spent; is granular coverage of US Federal opportunities adding value to the services provided to clients?
The obvious answer is yes, and it is the correct answer. But, let’s consider for a moment the purpose that services like SPIN are utilized. Since it is relatively easy to track government funded opportunities, then the simple conclusion is that third party funding opportunity databases would be primarily used to identify opportunities that are not so readily tracked. Of course, this simple deduction may not be entirely representative of all users, and I would encourage you to take a short survey that I put together here on the topic.
Following the conclusion above, it would seem appropriate to further conclude that time spent on detailed coverage of US Federal grant opportunities might be more valuably spent on coverage of more obscure private sponsors. This would follow the notion that institutions are not signing onto SPIN to locate the most recent information on opportunities that they know exist, but rather attempting to find an opportunity to meet a project’s goal that is not yet funded.
That being said, there are no plans to change anything about the way that SPIN covers the US federal grant-making agencies. We are aware that this tenet of the SPIN platform is widely known, but it is time to at least begin the conversation; to begin thinking about this topic. Would you rather have access to complete coverage of federal agencies along with thousands of private sponsors, or would you rather see all efforts focused on identifying and indexing opportunities from sponsors you would, perhaps, otherwise not come across? For those willing, I encourage you to take a short survey and let us know your thoughts.