By Angie Picardo
What is grant writing?
Grant writing is âthe practice of completing an application processes for funding provided by an institution such as a government department, corporation, foundation or trust.â Grants differ from loans in that they do not have to be paid back and are tax free, and the institution associated with the grant usually sees the process as an investment. Grants are typically highly competitive, so the application process must be thorough and specific. Besides funding, some grants offer assistance in the form of resources, goods, and services including manpower or other aid.
Grant writers are expected to convey a sense of expertise in a researched field. They are the sole arbiters of securing outside funding, so a solid background in communication, English, technical writing, or business management is preferable. Grant writers should understand the allocation of funds and the pipeline of distribution, from development to completion in the projects they are writing for. A good grant writer will convey a sense of urgency and purpose, ensuring a solid foundation for their claim.
Small businesses may need grants outside of profit budgets to help fund new projects or construction, which could potentially yield major profits, encourage innovation, and provide community outreach through employment and awareness programs. Ideas spread locally first, so grants provide a unique dialogue for businesses to reach out to the community.
How do small businesses benefit from grant writing?
Government grants are typically not provided for starting or expanding businesses. Exceptions to the rule include small businesses engaged in scientific research and development (R&D). Federal grants may be available to businesses that meet federal standards and have a high potential for commercialization under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Businesses involved with agriculture, engineering, defense, health and human services, public transportation, energy, or space technology may qualify.
Nonprofit businesses are usually offered a wider selection of grant benefits. These types of businesses require grants for sustained funding and often reach out to the community and build relationships that last. Types of grants available for nonprofit businesses include:
- Capital Grants â supports the purchase of property, equipment, and facility expansion and remodeling
- Operating or General Support Grants â an overall grant that supports daily operations and sustainability
- Endowment Grants â permanent source of income that is renewed annually for project expenses and organization operations
- Unrestricted Grants â for use where best needed
- Project Grants â supports specific projects on an as-needed basis
- Seed Grants â for beginning organizations, new projects, of building anything from the ground up
How do small businesses get grants?
The first place to start looking for information about grants would be at SBA.gov. The U.S. Small Business Administration is an offshoot of grants.gov and provides a search tool to identify local and state grant programs aimed at qualifying small businesses. According to SBA:
Some business grants are available through state and local programs, nonprofit organizations and other groups. For example, some states provide grants for expanding child care centers; creating energy efficient technology; and developing marketing campaigns for tourism. These grants are not necessarily free money, and usually require the recipient to match funds or combine the grant with other forms of financing such as a loan. The amount of the grant money available varies with each business and each grantor.
For research-based Federal grants, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) (cfda.gov) provides a comprehensive listing of available grants.
Have you ever thought about pursuing grant money to support your business?