Registering Your Non-Profit Entity in the System of Award Management (

Registering Your non-profit entity in the System of Award Management – better known by its acronym, SAM – is essential for getting paid! Let me say that another way, to be paid by the US Federal government under a contract – including a services contract for delivery by a non-profit organization – a representative of the non-profit must be registered in the System of Award Management.

Why do you need to be registered as a non-profit in the federal award management system?

Think of SAM as the vendor registration system for the US government. It is a pre-registration to ensure that you get paid into the correct bank account. SAM also tracks who is permitted to speak on behalf of your organization for payments, contract negotiations and agreements.

What if you don’t have a federal contract and you don’t plan on submitting a response to an RFP? Even if you don’t have a federal contract, you may still need to register. For example,

  1. SAM registration is often required to be paid for state services contracts;
  2. To receive grant monies under federal programs;
  3. To be permitted to participate as a non-profit organization in federal or state-administered programs, including America Serve or Teach for America.

Registering a non profit in the system of award management

How do you go about registering Your Non-Profit Entity in the System of Award Management?

Firstly, you should NEVER pay someone to register you in SAM.  We cannot emphasize this enough. We do not offer this as a service on principle! It is free to register, and as the representative of your organization, you can do it yourself.

Before you can register in, you will need to make a list of items, collect, or have them on hand. It is best to go into a SAM registration prepared because even if you think you have everything, one small piece of information or inconsistency may trip you up. Not having the essential documents to hand can delay the registration by as much as a few weeks.

What you will need to Register a Non Profit in the System of Award Management

  1. Your EIN (Employer Identification Number) or TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) and the Taxpayer name. The Taxpayer name is usually your formal Organization Name that is on your 501(c)(3) determination or Articles of Incorporation.
  2. You will need to register in DUNS (Dun & Bradstreet) and have your DUNS number handy. TIP: Be sure that your physical address in DUNS is accurate and that your registration in SAM matches exactly. If the addresses don’t match in both DUNS and SAM, it will spit the registration back at you. The delays in sorting this out can run into weeks – ask me how I know?!
  3. You will need to have details of your non-profit organisation’s bank account to set up Electronic Funds Transfer in SAM (EFT). These are the details you will need: bank routing number, bank account number, and bank account type (i.e., check or savings)
  4. A couple of hours to dedicate to the registration process!
  5. Reliable contact information for the financial, executive, and administrative contacts for your organization. In some cases, these will be the same person. If at all possible, use organizational email addresses for these people rather than personal addresses.

Registering Your Non-Profit Entity in the System of Award Management takes approximately 1-2 hours. Still, it is generally spread out over a couple of days, as the system updates the elements that need to be verified.

Recent Changes to the SAM Registration process

There have been some recent changes to the SAM registration process.

  1. You may need to submit a notarized document nominating a representative to administer your SAM account.
  2. Your profile now also enables sign up and sign in to

Registering in SAM is not one and done!

You will need to renew your registration at least once each 12-month period after successful registration in SAM. will give you plenty of reminders but add “renew SAM registration” to a checklist in your operations manual to remind you and your team.

Once again, do NOT pay for a service to update your SAM registration. I receive a staggering amount of emails that border on deception trying to entice me to sign up for paid SAM update services. Frankly, some of them absolutely cross the line of deception as opposed to sales. Emails offering SAM renewal services offer an excellent opportunity to use the unsubscribe button! Conversely, be sure to whitelist emails from

What if you need to find out your SAM number? You can do this by logging into Save (or even print) the registration email they send out upon successful registration – as this number is included.

If you’re starting, are in a new leadership role, or want to make sure you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s, then download our Starting a Non-Profit Checklist.

If this article was helpful, here are some more resources for you as you grow your organization.