Last Updated:

September 26, 2023

Three Types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)


Stephanie Paul Morrow




September 25, 2023

Is your nonprofit looking for grant money to fund an upcoming project? Maybe you need funds to build a new section of your building, to expand your capacity, or to develop a new program.

Whatever the case may be, there are many different types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) that may be available to fund your next nonprofit project.

In this article, we will explain what FOAs are and the different types of Funding Opportunity Announcements so that you can choose the right one to meet the needs of your nonprofit organization.

What Is a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)?


Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) are official notices used by federal agencies to publicly advertise federal grant funds that are available.

Thousands of FOAs are currently listed online to help nonprofits advance their goals and missions.

However, deciphering through all of these funding opportunities can be daunting. There are various types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) that cater to different areas of research, which is why having an understanding of different kinds of FOAs—whether it is an RFA, PA, or Parent Announcement—is important.

Finding the right type of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) is the first step to securing funds for your upcoming nonprofit project. Although there are different types of announcements, they are all formatted in a similar manner and contain the same general information.

Each type of announcement will including:

  •  The name of the funding organization and type of funding opportunity
  • The organization’s goals and objectives
  • A specific program description
  • Contact information
  • Submission deadlines and the specific length of time for the project
  • Award and budgetary information
  • Eligibility requirements and review criteria
  • Reporting requirements
  • Application and submission instructions

Therefore, once you figure out which type of FOA is right for your nonprofit, you can easily review the funding information to see if the FOA is a match.

What Are The Different Types of FOAs?


There are two primary types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) that have risen in popularity over the years: Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements (PAs).

There are also Parent Announcements, which are a type of PA, and Notices of Special Interests (NOSIs), which are used to focus on specific research topics. We will discuss each type of announcement and their meanings in detail below.

RFA (Request for Applications)

RFAs (Request of Applications) are formal statements that have a narrowly defined scope and specific program objectives in a scientific area.

For example, if your nonprofit is researching cancer medications that require funds for additional investigations, an RFA would be the perfect choice because they are used for “investigator-initiated” research.

An RFA can be a grant solicitation or a cooperative agreement in which grant funds are set aside for award applicants. It is important to note that cooperative agreements usually require more involvement from the staff of the federal agency, so you should make sure you review the RFA carefully to understand what is expected in the program requirements.

If you are not interested in working closely with the federal agency’s staff, a cooperative agreement may not be the right choice for you. That being said, the FOA will specify the obligations in a cooperative agreement for both the federal organization and the applicant.

You will also want to verify the deadline for the FOA because RFAs usually have a one-time specific target date since they are typically designated to a specific scientific area.

The awards section of the RFA will specify how many awards are available and the funding amounts that have been set aside. It will also indicate if cost sharing is required and any joint responsibilities if necessary (i.e., in cooperative agreements).

PA (Program Announcement)

Program Announcements (PAs) are also a type of FOA that highlight an area of scientific focus.

However, they are usually not as specific as an RFA and can be new or ongoing programs with multiple receipt dates, not a specific target date like an RFA.

For example, a PA may award grant monies to continue an ongoing research project or give modifications to an existing research program.

There are two special types of PAs—a PAR and a PAS—and also a more specialized Parent Announcement (discussed individually below):

  • A PAR is a PA with special receipt/referral/review considerations
  • A PAS is PA with set aside funds

There may not be a PAR or PAS available in your nonprofit’s specific area of research since they have scientific focuses (similar to RFAs). If this is the case, don’t worry—you may be able to apply for a parent announcement.

Parent Announcement

Parent announcements are attractive to nonprofit organizations because they do not require a particular research area. This flexibility gives more leeway to finding an FOA that meets the specific needs of your nonprofit organization.

For example, parent announcements could fund research for fellowship grants, they could be used for career development or work training, or even for administrative supplementation. In addition, there are also parent announcements available for clinical trials.

NIH parent announcements in particular are “investigator-initiated,” “unsolicited” research opportunities. You can find NIH parent announcements on the NIH Guides for Grants and Contracts website or on

It is important to note that applicants for PAs and parent announcements all compete for the same funding. That is, funds are not set aside unless the FOA grant is identified as a PAS.

Other Types of FOAs

RFAs, PAs, and Parent Announcements are not the only types of Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA). 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.

NOSIs have been used more in recent years instead of the traditional program announcements, and most of the non-parent program announcements may be issued as NOSIs in the near future.

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How to Find the Right FOA for Your Project


As noted above, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Guide to Grants and Contracts website can both be used to find FOAs.

You can also go directly to federal government sites if you already know they meet your nonprofit’s objectives. In fact, our Federal Government grant search tips can help you feel less overwhelmed in the grant searching process.

Instrumentl’s grant database also includes federal funding opportunities that could meet your nonprofit’s needs. You can search specific keywords that relate directly to your own nonprofit’s mission to narrow your search for FOAs on Instrumentl. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial to start finding government grants for your nonprofit organization today.

Once you find an FOA, you will notice that it clearly states the mission of the funding organization, the award amounts, and the eligibility criteria. Make sure to take note of these details so that you can ascertain right away whether the FOA meets your own nonprofit’s needs, the award is enough for your project, and you are even eligible to apply.

The best way to find the right FOA for your nonprofit is by reviewing the overall goals of the funding opportunity. You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What type of FOA is the funding opportunity?
  • Does my nonprofit’s mission and research match the funding agency’s goals and objectives?
  • Does my nonprofit organization meet the eligibility criteria?
  • What is the application submission deadline? Can we meet this deadline?
  • Is there a budget cap?
  • What are the award policies and proposal specifications (i.e., page count, page size and margin requirements, font conditions, etc.).

Our grant writing strategies and tips can also help you craft your proposal so that it meets the needs and goals of the funding opportunity announcement.

Wrapping Up: The Next Steps


It is important to verify that your nonprofit organization is applying for the right type of Funding Opportunity Announcement. This not only saves you time, but it increases the chances you will be awarded the grant for your upcoming project.

Now that you understand the differences between different kinds of FOAs, you can start your search on Instrumentl for exciting funding opportunities for your nonprofit’s upcoming projects.

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Stephanie Paul Morrow

Stephanie Morrows holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communications and is a professor at PennState Harrisburg.

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