Accessing Grants

Grants emanate from many sources. Foundations, government agencies, working groups are examples. There are simple things to remember. You must understand what the motivations and goals of the grantor are. You need to know when the grant application window is and how long it will be before a decision comes down. It is important to realize how competitive a grant really is since you will invest time and resources on something you may not get.

Think of how to best use grants for your benefit. Don’t let a grant opportunity drive your planning timeline and don’t plan for your business to live off grants. Sometimes money is available for planning. This is a super opportunity since it can finance the use of experts and bring your business plan to a high level quickly. Sometimes a grant can help supply working capital. Again, this is a super opportunity but guard that capital like it’s the last dollars on earth. Don’t think of this as free money to be blown. The third use is generally for capital investments such as buildings or equipment.

Think carefully how a grant can help you achieve your goals. There will be a lot of paperwork and often difficult requirements. For example, some grants require public disclosure of the whole project. If you are protecting intellectual property or otherwise don’t want your business revealed to all and sundry, you may shy away from a grant.

There are professionals who write grants and if you’ve never done it, it is best to access this help. This comes at a cost but your chance of success goes way up with a pro. The main rule of grant writing is to slavishly follow the grantor’s format and stick strictly to their needs, answering each item succinctly and fully. Don’t stretch the facts and write to the motivations of the grant program itself. These will be clear in the [Request for Proposals] document.

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