Seeking out grants can be worth it, but the working through the process takes dedication.
The Business.com community wondered where to start to get a government grant. We found the answer.
Government grants have that "free money" allure. Stay up late enough to watch television and you're bound to see a few commercials that promise to help you track down untold riches that Uncle Sam has just been waiting for someone to claim.
The real story, of course, is a little more nuanced. Yes, there are government grants to be had for organizations that match the qualifications. And grants may also be an essential source of revenue, particularly for a non-profit operation. Seeking them out, working through the application process, and following up takes dedication. But the payoff may be worth it.
This question from Sara Eveland of the Business.com community asks how to get started with government grants, which many in the nonprofit world are seeking as a way to boost operations. Here are some suggestions for navigating through this labyrinth.
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Don't expect to stumble across the right source of funding and think you'll get it right away. One place to start is USA.gov. While it's not the most user-friendly of sites, it's a rather comprehensive collection of grants available from the federal government.
For example, consider the following chart that details only part of the journey of receiving a grant. There is a much longer chart that lays out the various steps at this site.
Those looking specifically for government funding for a business can look here. However, it's really just a first stop. Keep in mind the Small Business Administration, along with devoting a sizable amount of time to search for the opportunity, makes the most sense. [Interested in business loans and financing options? Check out our best picks.]
One of the key parameters behind actually awarding a grant is how well it is aligned with the goals of the organization giving out the money. Double check that the funding you are applying for is appropriate for your organization – you won't see a dime unless you do the research to know that it's going to be aligned to your project.
You should also be on the lookout for when new grants come through that may be just the right fit. For example, the Department of Energy announced $99 million in small business grants recently. Sometimes it's about being there at the right time, and not giving up too early.
Be patient and persistent
After the application process has been finalized, it's time for the unenviable waiting game. This is why a multi-grant strategy or considering grants as only one of many sources of funding, is probably the wisest choice. It may be a cliché, but patience will truly be a virtue here.
Additionally, don't let patience turn into complacence. You'll need to be diligent about following up and asking questions regarding your organization's application. With critical funding on the line, it doesn't hurt to keep calling and asking questions about where things stand.
With the right amount of legwork, you'll be glad you went down the path of applying for a grant. It might be just the right fuel your business needs to get on the road.