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In my last article I talked about Way’s to get funding for your business, and one of those ways is applying for a grant.
Obtaining a grant is one of the best ways to get funding, as you rarely need to pay it back provided you follow the terms and conditions of said grant. It is also however, one of the hardest ways to get funding. Thus this article aims to give you a primer on what you need to know about the grant application process.
What can I get a grant for?
Really just about anything, but keep in mind the grant is going to be for a specific purpose that helps the better good of “whatever.” That is to say, you won’t get a grant if you can’t prove that your project, business, or organization does offer some benefit to the community, an industry, a specific group of people, etc…
A grant can be dependent on the type of business you are, where you are located, the size of your business, if the grant will create jobs or not, etc. The first step because of this, is figuring out the angle you want to approach in getting a grant (ie: figuring out how your business/project will help and there for be worthy of a grant.)
Where can I get a grant?
Grants tend to come in two different varieties, local grants and nationwide grants. Local grants might be nonprofits, the chamber of commerce, the local government, economic development agencies, etc.
National grants tend to be offered from federal departments such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration, etc. However you may run into large non profit organizations such as The Battle Against Cancer who would be willing to give a grant to an organization looking to develop treatment for cancer.
How do I find a grant?
The first step is brainstorming all the possible organizations that you truly have a shot at qualifying for. Keep in mind that a grant is very hard to get, so any long shot attempts are likely to be a waste of time. Start at a local level, that way you can call the local organizations an inquire about grant opportunities. Then work your way to federal and nationwide organizations. Many websites will list information about their grant process.
Many local organizations will have information and advice on who to contact regarding grant programs as well, this is why the local chamber of commerce is a great place to start.
Applying for the Grant
Once you have your list of grants to apply for, research them and contact the departments to learn if your project qualifies for their program. Find out the requirements, and be ruthless on crossing off any that are not a perfect fit — you will not get them.
Once you have found the grants you wish to apply for expect to write out a project description which discusses what you will be doing, the goal, the benefits, and why you qualify for the grant. You will likely have to describe who will be running the project, their qualifications, skills, etc. The cost, time frame, other funding, financial information about the project, etc will all have to be discussed and be a part of the application process.
Read over each application carefully and make sure you fill out all the information required exactly as they ask for it. A simple mistake could be the different between a full review and tossing the application away for one that is error free.
After you have applied for the grant you may receive a formal letter of acceptance or an interview to learn more about your business and project. The more money you shoot for the higher level of investigation and involvement you are likely to experience. The grant process can take a few weeks to even a year, so expect to wait before hearing anything about your application.