For communities, organizations and individuals looking for financial assistance to reach their goals, better their lives, or improve their world, there are grants. Grant programs are available for all types of people looking to accomplish all sorts of things from opening a business to affording college tuition to recovering from natural disaster, so there is a lot to sort through when one begins looking for the grant program that is right for them. The first step to getting grant awards is figuring out what exactly one is looking for and what type of grant is best for them. There are several things to keep in mind when searching around.

Who is the entity seeking funding?

The main categories that all grants fall under are individual, business and nonprofit. Under the individual umbrella exists educational, housing and personal programs. Business grants assist small business owners with things like opening or expanding a business, funding research into technology, environmental consciousness, supporting revitalization and creating job opportunities. Nonprofit grants are aimed at bettering communities, humanitarian efforts and environmental projects and support 501c3 organizations.

Are there special grants for certain people?

Grants typically target a certain subsection of the population to ensure they are providing assistance to those who need it. There are grants specifically for women, minorities, veterans and senior citizens across all the categories, and often personal grants assist those from lower income brackets.

How will the award be used?

Every grant has some rules and regulations on how award money can be utilized. Sometimes the application will require the purpose to be stated specifically and the money must be used for that specified project or purpose, or the guidelines will be outlined as part of the grant program itself. Either way, this is an important thing to look for when applying and if awarded money, as any funds used in ways that violate such rules could be revoked.

What information do I need to apply?

Every grant is different with what they require in terms of financial records, but having income information on hand is always a good idea to start with. For educational grants a FAFSA is necessary, and there is often more paperwork required for business and nonprofit grants, but each program will specify what exactly they need. Be sure to supply them with whatever information is requested and that all of it is as up-to-date as possible.

Keeping in mind who the grant is for, what special categories one can fall under, what the money will be utilized for and what information is required to apply will greatly assist one looking to apply to grant programs and be awarded money. Be sure to be detailed, accurate and truthful on all grant applications and read the guidelines carefully, for it could be a waste of valuable time, effort and money applying to a program that you don’t qualify for.