Direct Federal Spending to Nonprofit Projects Available Now (with Limits)

May 1, 2024

The U.S. House and Senate have finally issued their guidance on how and when federal elected officials can request direct spending for important projects in their districts and states. Colloquially known as “earmarks,” the spending can go to charitable nonprofits in many instances. But time is extremely short and there are limitations. Nonprofits need to reach out to their Representatives and Senators with proposals immediately. Here’s what you need to know:

  • House: The opportunity for nonprofits to ask their Representatives for earmarks (called Community Funding Projects in the House) has a very short timeline and is limited in scope. For most appropriations bills, Representatives must send in their requests by the end of this Friday, May 3. The deadline has been extended to Friday, May 10 for earmarks coming out of three bills: a) Commerce-Justice-Science; b) Interior-Environment; and c) Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. These very short deadlines mean you must submit your request in ASAP with your Representative (find your Representative). The form you fill out is on their individual websites. Also, new rules in the House expressly prohibit earmarks going to charitable nonprofits from either the Labor, HHS appropriations bill or from the Economic Development Initiative in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Read the Community Project Funding Request Guidance.
  • Senate: The Senate process for seeking earmarks (called Congressionally Directed Spending in the Senate) is broader than in the House and offers a bit more time. Specifically, the Senate does not ban earmark spending on projects for charitable nonprofits. The deadlines for Senators to submit their requests range from May 8 to May 15, depending on the Appropriations Subcommittee bill in which the request would be inserted. As with requests in the House, nonprofits need to submit their proposal as quickly as possible to give Senators time to evaluate and approve it. Go here to find your Senators. The form for applying for a Congressionally Directed Spending will be on each Senator’s webpage. Read the Guidance on Congressional Directed Spending Requests.

After submitting an earmark request, nonprofits should follow up with staff to ensure receipt, answer questions, and advocate for the proposal to assist your mission.