Businesses often need money for expansion activities that include the purchase of manufacturing equipment, additional land, and commercialization of new products. One way to secure needed funds is through grants. Grants may be available at the local, state, and federal levels.
Key to winning grants is submitting superior grant applications. A major factor with any type of grant writing is following the grantor instructions. This may seem obvious, but it is the details that matter. Keep in mind that for most funders, applications for grants serve as the basis for contractual agreements between the grantee and grantor. You want to give careful consideration to each and every word you write about your business, the proposed activities, and associated costs. If you are awarded the grant, you are likely to be bound to the content of your grant proposal.
Grant applications are detailed in terms of required documentation that must be submitted with each proposal. Even if the actual proposal is excellent, if required documents are not included, your proposal is likely to be deemed “nonresponsive” and your request will be denied. Typical required documents include proof of incorporation and tax status, audited financial statements, and current operating budget. Grantors use these documents to determine your capability of managing grant funds.
Government grant applications can be particularly cumbersome in terms of documentation beyond the narrative proposal. Regardless, governments are also an excellent source of grant money for businesses since most foundations are prohibited from awarding grants to entities that do not have a 501(c)(3) tax status. While exceptions do exist, primarily at national foundations that focus on research or entrepreneurial development, governments are able to award grants directly to businesses.
Government grant applications that businesses are probably most familiar with are those through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These grants are available through nearly every federal government agency. Focusing on innovation and research, the SBIR/STTR programs allow businesses to receive money directly from the government. State governments also have grant opportunities for businesses.
Typical state grant applications target new technologies in areas such as energy, manufacturing, and transportation. Businesses can go directly to their state’s website to locate open and upcoming grant opportunities. If states distribute funds to local entities that then provide grants to businesses, names of those entities will be posted on the website as well. These entities are business incubators that provide grants to start-ups and businesses with new product lines. They will have their own application for grants.
Businesses have many avenues to locate and secure grant funding. Once a funding source is found, it is all about creating a solid proposal the grantor wants to award. Central to this is following instructions when writing your proposal.