How to Find Small Business Grants
Want some free money to help grow your business, no strings attached? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, what if I told you it is true, if you’re willing to spend some time doing research and composing a compelling application? Small business grants are non-repayable funds given to a company that meets certain qualifications by a government organization, non-profit, or another company. Typically, small businesses will apply for grants, and the grant maker will choose the applicant that best presents its need and how it will apply the money.
What Types of Businesses Are Eligible for Small Business Grants?
The U.S. government gives billions of dollars of grant money to specific types of businesses each year. Generally, organizations in certain fields, such as technology, medical research, and environmental preservation, are eligible for federal business grants. This is because allocations are controlled by specific government agencies, and opportunities are closely tied to their agenda and goals. For example, the National Institutes of Health offers grants to help fund cancer research. The government also offers small business grants for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and Native Americans.
On a local level, small businesses may be eligible to apply for grants that are offered by state or local governments to help meet certain objectives, such as revitalizing a run-down area of town or saving water in a time of drought.
Beyond government agencies, some businesses and non-profits sponsor grants as part of their charitable giving and community outreach endeavors. These grants are generally available to a wider pool of applicants, though they might reflect the organization’s focus or mission. For example, toy maker Mattel has a foundation that offers grants to projects that support active play, literacy, the empowerment of girls, and giving joy to children in need.
How Do I Find Private and Government Grants for Small Business?
There are a number of online databases that provide links to small business grant opportunities. The U.S. government has a website that will help you determine if your business is eligible for any government-sponsored grants and, if so, which ones. The site also refers users to other financing options, such as small business loans, if they are not qualified for federal grants. For more information on state and local government grants, check the websites of your state, county, and city, or call the relevant agency for business development and ask about grant opportunities.
Some public libraries have access to a funding library that lists grant opportunities, as do some regional United Way and Center for Nonprofit Management locations. You can independently research large corporations in your area of concentration and see if they offer grants. Big businesses in your city might also provide small business grants to other local companies.
When you find a grant for which you’re eligible to apply, be sure to take your time and do a thorough job of the application. Small business grants are highly sought-after, so competition will be fierce. There are grant writers who specialize in creating persuasive applications. Hiring an expert to write your application or provide counsel could be well worth the investment if it results in securing a grant!