Government grants can help fund new businesses, help individuals in need and give financial assistance to nonprofits, among other things. Grants can be less than $100 or greater than $1 million, depending on the project and awards available. The higher a grant's worth, the more competitive it will be. By following a few standard guidelines, you can learn how to apply for government grants and get the funding you need.
Before looking or apply for a government grant, determine the main reason you need funding. Write out a short statement of why funding is needed and what you would do with it. Write it the way you would want the grant adviser to see it. This will help you get focused and save you time when applying for the grant.
Look at your objective very closely and decide what type of grant you are seeking. Most government grants fall into the following categories: individuals, small businesses, for- and nonprofit organizations, education organizations, public housing organizations and government organizations. For federal personal assistance, go to USA.gov's "Government Benefits, Grants and Financial Aid" page to search opportunities alphabetically. For all other federal assistance, go to the "Find Grant Opportunities" page of Grants.gov. You can do basic and advanced searches, browse by category and agency and find Recovery Act opportunities.
Research government agencies that may help you with your objective before applying for a grant. Many agencies receive grants to help others. If you and your project qualify, make use of that financial assistance first and then apply for a grant based on any remaining funding that is needed. Many grant applications are denied because individuals or companies don't show an initiative to research reasonable funding requests.
When you research grants, don't be afraid to broaden your objective if it brings strength to your grant proposal, but only if you plan on carrying out such duties. For instance, you may want to open a clothing store but are unable to find grants to help. However, you may find funding to help women in need of clothes for work. Besides using the grant money to buy the clothing for the cause, you may be able to put some of it toward your store's rent and utilities. As an added bonus, receiving the grant might give your store free publicity. It's OK to be creative when searching for grants, but just remember to always be honest.
Enlist help if needed. If you are a business seeking thousands of dollars in financial assistance, you will increase your odds of obtaining a grant dramatically by hiring a grant writer who can help you work out the kinks in your proposal and application. If working on a tight budget, you may be able to strike a deal with a grant writer. He might agree to give you direction while you write the proposal and then overlook the proposal once you've finished.
Even if you hired a grant writer to apply for grants, always view the applications and proposals before sending them out. Copy your grant applications or proposals and have them on hand so you can refer to them as needed. When grant administrators are looking through your paperwork, they might call you with questions.
If you do get a grant, always follow up with the necessary paperwork after accepting the initial funds. If you don't keep up your end of the grant contract, you may find a bill in the mail requesting repayment or may not get the remaining funding.