DO NOT expect a grant to get your for-profit business started — despite those TV commercials late at night where the gentleman is screaming at you that the federal government wants to give you $50,000 to start your own coffee house!
Think about it, if there was really FREE money available to start a new business, there would be 250 million Americans in line ahead of you! If you haven’t figured it out yet, federal grants (despite the TV guy) are a myth, foundation grants are narrowly defined and virtually no one gives money for small business start-ups.
So, how does this myth persist? Because there are some (rare) federal grant programs that are awarded to the for-profit business. These grants are based on the needs of the federal program for a product or process — not the needs of the business — and they are seeking someone that can develop these products.
If you find that you can respond to the needs (generally a request for proposal — RFP), you need to know that applying for a grant is very different than applying for a loan.
Before developing a grant proposal, it is vitally important to understand the goals of the particular federal agency or private organization, and of the grant program itself. This can be accomplished through Internet research and discussions with the information contact listed in each resource description. You may find that, in order for a particular project to be eligible for funding, the original concept may need to be modified to meet the criteria of the grant program.
In allocating funds, grant makers base their decisions on the applicant’s ability to fit its proposed activities within the grant maker’s interest areas. If you want to see information about federal grants, go to www.sba.gov/expanding/grants.html
Other web sites for exploring grants:
Note: There are approximately 7,000 private foundations in America; some offer grants for specific business activities that relate to whatever activity they espouse. If you are aware of a foundation that offers grants in the area of business that you want to pursue, I suggest you contact them directly to obtain the details for applying. Again, these grants are most often awarded to non-profit agencies that compliment the mission of the awarding foundation.