What are government grants
Government grants are free monies awarded by a municipal, state, or federal agency to a variety of organizations and individuals, such as nonprofits, businesses, and students. Grants are not loans, meaning that they need to be repaid. But because government grants are funded by taxpayers, there are strict stipulations that must be met. As with receiving grant monies from a nonprofit organization, government grant funds must be spent as dictated by the funder.
Through the federal government alone, more than 26 agencies provide well over 1,000 grant programs that give aid for numerous projects including research, the arts, and educational funding.
Government Grant Eligibility
As you research for grants, you need to make sure that the new initiative you are trying to seek funding for matches what the funder’s interests and requirements are. This could also be a matter of timing. Some grants are available on a rolling basis, while many others have a specific application deadline, which is typically based on their own funding schedule or fiscal year. A government agency may have quite a few grants that are available, but you or your organization may only be eligible for one of them. Read carefully to see the eligibility requirements before applying and you will save both you and the funder a lot of time.
How to Apply for Government Grants
For federal grants, you’ll want to begin your research and application process at grants.gov, the website that holds the information for all federal grant programs, which hands out over half a trillion dollars in awards each year. Although that is a lot of money available, federal grants are quite competitive. You’ll want to hire a qualified grant writer for assistance. He can register you on the website—as an individual, a nonprofit, an educational or research institution, or some other kind of eligible organization. By registering on grants.gov, you will have access a wealth of information beyond the grant application itself—email alerts, webinars, and helpful advice from grant funders.
For other governmental agencies, research what your U.S. senators and representative have on their websites. Your state and city websites may also have additional information that is specific to that region.
After you have found the relevant information for your particular grants, it’s time to apply. Some grants may require a letter of inquiry or letter of intent (LOI), which is usually a page about what your organization is trying to accomplish and how this specific grant could help you. The grantor will then either give you the grant application or decline. Other grantors will allow you to apply without a need for an LOI.
You or your grant writer will need a lot of information, such as the proposed budget for your project, a narrative about your organization and how the monies will be spent, IRS returns, and other requested information. It is very important to keep track of deadlines and all the required paperwork since most grant applications have a deadline that will come once a year.
Receiving a Government Grant
Being awarded a grant from the government will not only impact your organization, but will also have a ripple effect in your community and whatever industry you are in. This can also open the door to future grant funding from funders if you are able to keep track of how monies are spent and do well with your required reporting. Some grant funders will require quarterly reports, while others will only need annual reports.
Even if you did not receive an award, keeping communication lines with a grant funder open will greatly help you and your organization. Follow up with them to learn why you were not given the grant. You may learn of other funding that better fits the goals of the granting agency and your organization.
Government grants can be a great way to not only fund your new projects but to create new networks within your field or industry.