ACQUIRING GRANTS FOR COMPANIES
Most private and public grants target non-profit organizations that serve a public purpose or cause. However, there are some opportunities for businesses, especially if they partner with a non-profit or higher education institution. Grants are usually highly competitive and demand careful consideration, planning, and monitoring to implement. It is important to consider grant programs from legitimate government, corporate, or non-profit sources, and avoid those touting “free” or “easy” money. However, depending on your business, grants can be an important part of your growth and development plan. Here are 4 Steps to follow when looking to acquire a grant.
Steps to Acquire Grant Funding
- GRANT READINESS
Before you start plowing into applications and proposals, there are tasks that need to be accomplished to determine your “grant readiness.”
- Create company profile, business plan and capabilities statement
- Gather incorporation documents
- Compile financial Information (budgets, audits, tax documents)
- Complete appropriate registrations to apply for and receive government funds (if appropriate), such as https://beta.SAM.gov, and Small Business Certification
- Determine exactly why you need and how you would use the grant funds: to grow operations, develop a new product, or relocate, for instance – and develop your budget and plan to implement
- Consider your back office needs, mostly legal and accounting, to manage grants
- RESEARCH FUNDING SOURCES
Search grant opportunities paying attention to eligibility requirements, evaluating your capabilities to successfully complete the requirements, and determining whether the timing and the amount of the grant will meet your needs.
a. Federal Grants
- Grants.gov (www.grants.gov). This is a repository of all current and past grant opportunities
- Small Business Administration (SBA) Grants (sba.gov) offers a variety of services to small business
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program small businesses conducting research with commercialization potential, or the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program for small businesses working with a research institution, usually a university or national laboratory. Several federal agencies offer a wide variety of research focus areas for applications
- Other agencies that offer grants to businesses are: Agriculture, Education, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
b. State and Local Public Grants
Check your state’s government websites or contact your local government’s CEO office. You may also check out USA Grants.Gov Government Grants and Loans | USAGov and search on your grants for your state. States often have job creation, workforce development and job training programs for businesses. Subscription databases include GrantWatch (www.grantwatch.com) and Grant Station (https://grantstation.com).
c. Private Funding
There are very few sources that make awards to businesses. However, it is worth a look for corporation or foundation grants. You can research websites or subscribe to a grant seeking database. SBA offices and your local library branch can be useful in accessing free directories and databases. Programs like FedEx’s Small Business Grant, Lending Tree, Fundera, and Hello, Alice offer competitive grants to small businesses.
There are many subscription databases for private foundation and corporate foundation grantmakers, in addition to GrantWatch and Grant Station mentioned above. Some have elaborate platforms with hefty monthly or annual fees. Popular sources include The Foundation Directory (Find Grantmakers & Nonprofit Funders | Foundation Directory Online (foundationcenter.org) and GuideStar (www.guidestar.org).
- COMPLETING THE APPLICATION
The best advice here is to read the application thoroughly and to follow instructions exactly. Complete the application with the reviewers’ impression in mind. You may want to reach out to a grant professional for guidance. The deadlines are real; so are the requirements.
- THE RESULTS
After submitting your grant application, you will receive a decision on whether or not you have been awarded the grant. Some grant programs notify you within a couple of months; federal grants may take six months or more.
a. Congratulations! You received the grant. Now the work begins in meeting the goals and deliverables of the project. Make sure you have your back office ready to manage the grant contracts and accounting requirements.
b. Sorry, we are not able to fund this project at this time. Ask for the reviewers’ comments. If you are lucky enough to receive them, address the issues and try again in the next round. Or apply to another source. With persistence, you will find the funding you need.
If you were not selected to receive the grant award, there are alternative sources of funding available for small businesses. Other funding mechanisms include:
- Loans from banks or other organizations, including the Small Business Administration, and other sources. This is a particularly useful tool for startup businesses.
- Investment capital, which is also important for startups or companies researching and developing new products.
- Contracts, often with state and federal government, are a stable source of funding for businesses that provide services or goods for procurement.
*Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes, and shall not constitute legal advice, or create a client relationship. Please consult your personal attorney or grant writer for specific counsel regarding your business.
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Dawn Banks, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive)
BRF Grants Development Director