Getting government grants for your small business is definitely doable. However, the process is highly competitive.
The federal government grants span a wide variety of purposes. Government grants may help you expand your business and increase your bottom line. If you’re looking for where to get free money to start a small business, that’s a different focus. There are also other types of grant programs available for small businesses.
We’re going to talk about United States government grants.
What Are Government Grants?
Federal government grants for small businesses are like a financial aid program. What’s different is that the monetary awards are not loans that you have to repay. You go through an application process (we’ll tell you how, below) and if successful, you’ll be awarded a government grant and receive funding.
In what ways can you use a grant? The federal government grants are designed to fund projects and ideas that provide public services, such as critical recovery initiatives, and stimulate the economy.
Who Qualifies for Federal Government Grants?
There are a number of entities that can qualify for a government grant. Small businesses have to meet certain standards according to their size (number of employees) and average annual receipts.
Nonprofit organizations are also eligible for financial assistance in the form of government grants. A nonprofit organization such as a research institution may see financial support funding opportunities for training programs, scientific research, and/or innovative research.
But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition for eligible small businesses. Each type of small business entity has a different standard. For example, an accounting firm and an agricultural business may qualify with widely different standards for the number of employees.
The Small Business Administration is a great source of information about small business qualifications for grant programs. Although the SBA may be more well known as a source for small business loans, the SBA also can help you apply for government grants.
Why Should You Apply for United States Government Grants
Truly, there isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t apply.
- Free money – Yes, while it’s true there’s no such thing as free money, it’s free money for small businesses. As long as you follow the guidelines for using the grant money, and properly complete all the required tasks and paperwork. you don’t have to repay the grant money.
- Funding opportunities – If you’ve got projects or planned expansions that you can never quite afford, and you don’t want to take out loans, you may find funding opportunities via grant programs from federal agencies. And again, these aren’t loans that you have to repay.
- The application process can be done online, using gov websites for your grant application.
- The strict eligibility requirements for some grants may benefit specific small businesses. For example, some grants are available for women, minorities, or Veteran-owned businesses.
- You can search the government offers for grants using secure websites. And, you can surf those official websites on your own time.
- Searching for grants is free. You’ll be safely connected to the government website, with your sensitive information protected.
- Each grant period has a start and end date. Once you’ve registered and gone through the application process, it’s easier to complete any future grant application you make.
What Is Grants.Gov?
Grants. gov is the official government organization that compiles all the grant programs and initiates the funding if your business is awarded grants.
Grants.gov is a government agency that maintains information about federal government grants that are available to small businesses which qualify. All applicants for federal grants, such as small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions start with Grants. gov.
That’s where you’ll start your grants funding application process and find out if you’re eligible according to your business size and other requirements.
How to Get Small Business Grant Programs with Grants.Gov
How can you get government grant funding opportunities? It’s a step-by-step process to submit your grant application. If at some point in the grant process you need technical assistance, that is just a few clicks away.
There are three main phases that are part of applying for grants. Within each phase of the grant process, there may be certain tasks you’ll need to complete:
Phase 1: Pre-award
In order to get in line for grants, you’ll need to register with your contact information and get a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number. Just go to Grants. gov and click on the Register tab.
Congressional District Code
On your grant application, you’ll need your congressional district code, which you should find ahead of time and have handy to enter when prompted.
Search through the variety of grants that are available and make sure you are eligible as you apply.
Applicants should subscribe to get Alerts and Communications, which will keep you informed as new grants become available resources.
The final step in the Pre-award phase is for applicants to submit the grant application for funds.
Phase 2: Award
Federal government staff members review your application for a grant. After you submit the application, you may wait several months to learn whether or not you got the government grant.
The federal government staff will review the eligibility requirements to make sure business applicants qualify for government grant funds. They will also review your proposal for funding and review your financial information, including whether or not you have outstanding business loans.
Notification of Award
If your government grant application is approved, your business will receive a NOA, or Notification of Award for a government grant.
Phase 3: Post Award
Once your eligibility and grant application have been approved, you’ll receive the government funding for your projects. That doesn’t mean the need for paperwork has ended.
Government grants have specific requirements to keep tabs on accountability. As part of being awarded grants, a business will most likely be required to make performance progress reports at specified times.
Government grants have specific start and end dates. For example, government offers of funds may specify that the funds be spent within 3 months. Or funding may be spread out over a longer period, even a year or several years.
During that time, a business must keep meticulous records of how the government money is being spent. Within 90 days after the government grant period ends, you must fulfill the funding reporting and Closeout Requirements.
Types of Government Grant
Government money is available for many types of entities, including universities and various nonprofit organizations.
Here are the basic types of entities that qualify for government funding opportunities:
- State and Local government – State and local government agencies can get funding for a community program or a project designed to stimulate the community economy. They can use government monies to improve community education resources, such as adult education or language programs.
- Education – Universities, and institutions – These education organizations can get government funding for a program needed for both students and educators. For example, a science department may seek a grant for the development of new research techniques. Or a technical college may seek a grant for the development of a new training program, such as a truck driver school or aeronautic mechanics.
- Research Laboratories – A research lab may seek funding for a vaccine research program, or monies to improve education opportunities for lab technicians.
- Law Enforcement Organizations – The most common government grants for these agencies are projects that improve community safety services, such as establishing neighborhood watches for interested community members.
- Non-Profit Organizations – Government money is available for nonprofits who want to expand the services they provide for a community.
- Small businesses – Your access to government grant money is not blocked by a locked padlock. You have the key!
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