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A small (very small!) portion of the commercial advertising you see about grants on TV and the internet is true. There are billions of dollars available in the form of grants for all different types of organizations and entities. Unfortunately, when it comes to most companies trying to sell grant services, this is where the truth ends.
Coming from a professional grant writing company that has been in business for nearly 25 years and that was one of the first of such companies in the United States, here is the real truth: Despite the fact that grant money does exist, the truth is that it is very difficult to get for small businesses and individuals.
Grant funding mostly comes from the federal government, from state and local governments, and from corporate and private funders (including foundations). If you were to add all of this potential funding together into one lump sum, it would definitely fall into the billions of dollars range. But here is the problem. Most of that money is targeted for nonprofit organizations, public governmental organizations (like school districts and cities), and tribes. The pie chart provides an approximate breakdown of how grant funds are divided amongst these and other groups.
When grant money becomes available, the funder will release “guidelines” or a “Request for Proposal” that describes exactly who is eligible to apply for the grant and how the grant funds must be used. If you apply for a grant in which you do not meet the eligibility criteria, then your application or proposal will be tossed out of the competition.
Scammers who try and sell useless products and grant services will often talk their customers into subscribing to their “grants databases” for $19.99 a month or a similar price tag. When the customers read the databased grant guideline materials more closely (if the databases even have the proper links to the guidelines), they realize they are not eligible for nearly all of the grants listed in the database because they do not fit into the 4% category (the classification of grants designated for businesses and individuals as indicated in the above pie chart).
Narrow Focus On How Grant Funds Must Be Spent
So now that we know that just 4% or so of the billions of dollars of available grant funding is accessible to businesses and individuals, it is important for you, as the consumer, to examine this 4% more closely. When doing this, you will make quite a few discoveries. The first being, that every grant a business or an individual can apply for must be dedicated for a certain purpose. When scammers advertise “free money” or compare getting a grant with winning the lottery, they are being completely dishonest in their representation on the way grants really function. For example, there are some really great grants available through the National Endowment of the Arts for artists. However, if an artist were to apply and receive such a grant, the grant monies would have to be used to cover the cost of a certain art project or program to be implemented by that artist which must align with the focus of the grant and the funder. You can’t just get a grant, stick the money in your pocket, and forget about it. The money can only be spent on activities that the funder allows and approves and you have to report back to the funder on what was accomplished.
When further analyzing the 4% of funding, one can easily identify the specific areas regarding how funders want to see the grant money being used. Most grants available under the 4% classification fall under “Small Business Innovation Research” (SBIR) and “Small Business Technology Transfer” (STTR) opportunities. You can read about these types of grants at www.sbir.gov. Essentially, these are grants given by various arms of the federal government (National Institutes of Health, USDA, EPA, etc.) and they are intended to fund very unique and innovative research and development types of projects. We are talking bomb detection devices for NY subways projects and cures for cancer – not a better push up bra. The top scientific and business minds and emerging corporations go for these grants and are actually able to get them awarded. Resource Associates has an entire grant writing team dedicated to winning these types of grants.
Another large portion of funding under the 4% is targeted for farmers, green energy producers, artists, educators, health care providers, community service providers, job training entities, and child care providers. If you fit into any of these funding categories, you should very strongly consider having us do a comprehensive Funding Assistance Research Report (FARR). We can easily help these types of entities to not only find the right funding opportunities, but to pursue and hopefully acquire significant dollars to support or expand their ventures.
Beyond the above targeted areas of funding, there are not a lot of grant monies available. The limited dollars that do exist would need to be uncovered through extensive grants research. You may find after doing this that your best bet is to consider low interest loans, tax incentives, special small business start up programs, or other financing alternatives. On the other hand, you may also find that the four or five grants that do exist are perfect for you and that you should pursue funding in accordance with the grant guidelines. It takes a ton of time and many many man hours of research to come to this conclusion. We can do this for you with our FARR report service which will ultimately save you the time and money that you would otherwise have to dedicate on your own.
The above facts about grants aren’t advertised by grant scam companies because in all honestly, most of these companies have never even applied for a grant or even really know what one is. They copy the business model of Matthew Lesko and others to try and make a quick buck not even knowing if what they are selling is legitimate. Moreover, the truth is inconvenient and counter to their marketing strategy. They want to get the public all pumped up about the idea of winning millions of dollars. They want you to believe that a one time payment of $19.95 is going to ensure you the right grant and a large check made payable to you personally. If you believe this, then we are sure they have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you as well.
The reality is that grant funding targeted for individuals and businesses is not oozing out of Washington. The limited funding that does exist is difficult to find and even more difficult to secure through the proposal writing process. After you have spent the time finding a grant that you are eligible to apply for, you then have to spend an even greater amount of time studying and carefully following the grant guidelines to formally request funding. If you were to apply for a grant (not just hit the “apply now” button on a scammer’s website and never receive a dime), you would have to write a very detailed proposal and budget of what you intend to do with the grant to further the funder’s initiatives. If your proposal is sloppy, not proofread, or not exactly what the funder is looking for, it won’t get funded. This is why professional grant writing is so important. Having a professional write a grant for you will substantially raise your chances of securing an award.
Grant Harmony, a sister company of Resource Associates, offers services designed to equip businesses and individuals with the tools and resources they need to pursue the most appropriate and relevant funding opportunities. We are a legitimate grant writing firm and will always tell you the truth about grants. We would never want to waste our time or your money applying for a grant that has no chance of award.
Take our funding quiz for businesses and individuals as a first step to learning what grants and other funding opportunities for which you may be eligible. Once you have the results of the quiz, feel free to contact one of our grant experts to get real answers to your grant funding questions. Call 505-326-4245 or send us an email.