There are so many misconceptions about grants and it’s unfortunate. Funding opportunities are available but people either don’t realize that they’re out there or they’ve been burned by previous “grant writers” who left them with less money, no grants and a bunch of skepticism. To help you avoid the run-around, here are four and a half myths that you should know before you consider grants for your organization.
1) There’s a grant for everyone. Grants are reserved mainly for non-profits and SOME small businesses. Which small businesses are usually funded? According to Grants.gov…
Small business loans and small business grants may be awarded to companies that meet the size standards that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has established for most industries in the economy. The most common size standards are as follows:
- 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries
- 100 employees for all wholesale trade industries
- $6 million for most retail and service industries
- $28.5 million for most general & heavy construction industries
- $12 million for all special trade contractors
- $0.75 million for most agricultural industries
The majority of funders set aside funds for causes they are passionate about or because they want to contribute to society. Helping a small business owner is not usually one of those causes. If you’re out for profit, then you’d better hustle for that… but that’s a totally separate topic.
2) You can find a grant for just about anything. This is probably the BIGGEST non-truth about grants. People have been told by experts who wear wacky sport coats that there is a grant for everything. You know, because THAT’s how life works – you just ask for money and it comes to you. No, you can’t get a grant to pay for those Jimmy Choos you want so badly, or to redecorate your living room. There is no foundation that will pay for your bills while you sit at home eating chips on the couch all day or buy you a sports car for fun. Funders are concerned with their passion as well, so they’re looking to fund things that matter to them.
3) Grants are free money. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you find a grant opportunity, that’s only half the battle. You now have to apply for the grant. This can take hours, weeks, or even months depending on how much information is needed. THEN, assuming you get awarded a grant, you are expected to give updates on how the money is being used and the result of the program that is funded. So, to say that grants are free money is a total non-truth.
4) A grant would solve all of your funding problems. Grants are not a cure-all for lack of funds and no one grant will fund a whole operation. If you find that there just never seems to be enough money for the organization when funds are consistently coming in, you either need to re-evaluate your program or look into how the funds are being handled. You have to be prudent for your organization’s sake, especially when it comes to who does the books. As for funders, they usually want to assist, not have the sole financial stake in a project or cause. Plus, the more funding you have outside of the grant through donations and other fundraising efforts, the more legit the organization which leads funders to want to award you funds.
Well, I promised you 4 AND A HALF myths/non-truths about grants, so you’re gonna get the remaining 1/2.
1/2) Getting grants is too hard. Writing grant proposals is not impossible, but having a knack for it definitely helps. Not everyone gets as excited as I do about writing grants. Most of the time, the visionaries and world-changers just want to get going on something and get things moving; funding is just an afterthought. Sitting down and researching and writing grants does not seem like a good time to a lot of people. But as long as you find the right funders, follow their guidelines, and write like there’s no tomorrow, it is do-able.
Have any other non-truths or myths about grants you’d like to squash? Let me know below in the comments section.
Don’t Lose Hope,