Are you ready to renew your SAM Registration?

I’m the founder and by default the executive director of a tiny but extremely effective arts nonprofit. Founders tend to wear all the hats until they can fundraise salaries for other clever heads to wear some of these many hats. One of the means of fundraising for small but effective nonprofits is to apply to the National Endowment for the Arts for funding.

I’ve done this already. Twice. I know the ropes. Before you can begin a grant application to the NEA you have to have a SAM Registration. This registration, I have learned, needs occasional renewals. Mine expires one month from today. Yours might also need renewing. So let’s do this together. Ready? Let’s begin.

You’ve been getting deluged with spam saying your SAM registration needs renewal. You know it is spam because the messages are dire and offer to renew on your behalf. They are trying to charge you a lot of money. Ignore them. Go to the official website directly (also ignore the paid Google ads that will try to suck you in) — you’ll know you are in the right place if you see this:

(I’m not sure that all taxpayers would agree with this notice)

You know SAM renewal must be an important step because you are getting zero reminders from the actual government and by your records, your registration expires in less than a calendar month. On the website, be delighted to discover that your password and login information are saved in your browser from last year. But wait.

If this is a Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday between 8:30am and 11am, the website will be undergoing maintenance. Have another cup of coffee and wait for the afternoon.

Are you ready to begin? First, you will need to confirm your own login info. This will take you to an entirely different website ( Since you have nothing to change, just get the double verification code sent to your phone and then you will be stuck on a screen that is basically an “about you” page. There is no way off this screen. The only way back to the homepage is by closing everything. This is a good time to refill you coffee.

You’ll be logged in this time. Unclear why. There will be three options: start a new registration, renew your registration, or check your status. Go ahead and try to check your status.

Choose option three! Might as well check first.

This will require finding your DUNS number (which is somewhere in some notes somewhere) or your CAGE code (also in those same notes). Pick one. Enter it. Wait for the results of your registration….

Did you see this message on your screen? Yeah. Me too.

Haha just kidding. That was just a random timesuck. Go ahead and go back to the homepage (this may require closing the browser again, particularly if you have timed out — you have two minutes)

Okay. Now choose the right button. Renew your registration. I hope you budgeted some time for this… should take upwards of an hour. It’s in three parts.

Not that anything has changed, but you know, maybe….

This brings you to a page where you have to….you guessed it….verify your identity!

Forgive me, but did I not just do this on I am sure I did.

But okay. You are who you say you are. Now just prove that your organization is still what it says it was as well. (hope you had a lot of coffee, this step will take a lot of fine-print reading.)

Are you done? Already? I hope you wrote down your MPIN somewhere when you first registered on this website four or five years ago! Your MPIN is a self-chosen id-code that the government uses as a digital signature to identify you. The only time I have ever used it is…you guessed it…to sign this document verifying we are who we say we are. Did you find it? Affix your MPIN to the renewals and submit! See how easy that was!

Does this actually tell me that I have to do this madness every single year?

If you need any help at all with any part of this form, you will find the helpful link for the free services of the Federal Service Desk (FSD) on item SIX of the six-point bullet list on the confirmation page. That’s right. The help desk information and link are located in the last fine-print paragraph on the confirmation page, after you submit.

Have a cup of coffee….



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M. M. De Voe

M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of Book&Baby, an acclaimed guide for writer-parents.