Do you own a small business or are you part of a non-profit? If you answered yes to either of these questions, here’s good news. You can get free money from Uncle Sam. Well, it won’t be exactly free. You can get grants but not free money grants. They do represent free money but only in the sense that you don’t have to pay it back. However, grants do come with obligations and requirements. Also, you must do whatever work is necessary to find and get a grant. You would then need to carefully and scrupulously carry out the grant according to its requirements. Beyond this, here are the top 11 things you need to know get a grant.
New grants available
There are new grants and new business to be had with the government thanks to the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
What you need to know
1. Every year the US government awards many millions of dollars in grants. In fact, the top 10 agencies that do grants awarded more than $640 billion in grants just in the year 2009 alone. Some of the agencies currently offering grants include NASA, the National Institutes o Health, the Department of Commerce and the SBA (Small Business Administration), which has a $1,300,000 opportunity titled the, “Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Program.” In addition, the National Science Foundation has a proposed grant, “Improving Undergraduate STEM Education” and the National Endowment For the Arts has an $8,000 grant, “United States Mint Call for Artists: Seeking Artists to Design United States Coins and Medals.”
Note: You can find information on all pending government grants on the site http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html that can be browsed or searched by keywords.
2. There are numerous websites with information about grants for a fee. Stay away from them. Also, never give sensitive or private information such as credit card numbers or your Social Security numbers to anyone you don’t know or trust.
3. If you discover a grant that looks promising, the first step is to make sure you’d be eligible. One of the top reasons why people don’t get a grant for which they’ve applied is due to lack of eligibility. That’s time that you don’t want to waste. You can learn if your company or non-profit organization would be eligible for a grant on the page here You’d most likely be eligible if you are.
• An Independent School District
• Public and State Controlled Institution of Higher Education
• Private Institutions of Higher Education
• Nonprofit having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
• Nonprofit that does not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
Or a small business with:
• 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries
• 100 employees for all wholesale trade industries
• $6 million for most retail and service industries
• $28.5 million for most general & heavy construction industries
• $12 million for all special trade contractors
• $0.75 million for most agricultural industries
4. Individual applicants may only apply for grant opportunities on Grants.gov that indicate individual eligibility within the “Synopsis and Full Announcement.” They can submit funding opportunity applications on their own behalf and not on behalf of a company, organization, institution, or government. However, if you’re registered as an individual, you are only allowed to apply to those funding opportunities that are open to individuals.
5. In brief, the grant application process is as follows:
Step 1 – Find Grant Opportunity for which you would like to apply
Step 2 – Download Application Package
Step 3 – Complete the Registration Process
Step 4 – Complete and Submit the Application Package
6. Grant proposals that are successful have common elements. They address a well-formulated problem, that’s important and where its solution would be useful. A good grant explains clearly what work will be done and the expected results.
7. Be sure that your grant proposal is well written, well organized and that you are making a reasonable request for funding. You can get great guidance and advice free from Non-profit Guides (http:///wwwnpguides.org/index.html), which includes samples and tips. This site does not offer any other kind of services or attempt to sell you anything. It just provides concise, clear, solid information. Also, here’s a video with an excellent explanation of the grant writing process.
8. It’s just the start when you win an award. Be sure that you completely follow through on the grant contract you’ve agreed to. Track your finances scrupulously and provide the necessary reports. Be sure to meet all your deadlines.
9. The number one authority for US government sponsored grants is Grants.gov.
10. Get lots of help. Ask a lot of people to review your proposal and provide helpful input. Give it to your wife, friends, colleagues and even your dog – and listen to what they say. If they misunderstand anything, rewrite the proposal until everything can be understood. And if they can’t see the value of what it is you want to achieve, rewrite it until they do.
11. Your first page should be a standalone summary of the entire proposal. The reason for this is because many readers will never get beyond that first page. Don’t fill the page with a lot of miscellaneous background information. Get straight to the point and present your whole case – what you want to do, why it’s important, what you will do to succeed, what the project will cost and so forth.