There Really Aren’t a Lot of Small Business Grants
Let’s start from the basics: there are very few grants available for businesses. Foundations fund nonprofits, no matter what the internet says (go to the website of the foundation of your choice and look at the requirements). There are federal government grants for specific projects; there are state government grants, frequently designed to promote development. There are a few private sector grants, often in the form of product. You won’t find any opportunities to help you make payroll next week or shore up your cash flow. See SBA.gov for an outline of what’s out there.
Below is an overview of the topic. Granting opportunities change constantly, so if you believe there may be available money, search as specifically and as often as possible.
I want to caution you about some questionable tactics employed by companies who charge fees to provide information about government grants. The information is available free online at grants.gov. If the grant is legitimate you will have to apply yourself, so a company offering to get it for you is, by definition, a scam.
There are usually a number of grants available to the small business sector at grants.gov but the opportunities will be very specific. As with any government granting program, the requirements, both for application and reporting, will be stringent.
1. To begin, go to Grants.gov and register.
2. Apply for a DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet if you don’t already have one.
3. Register with System Award Manager (SAM) at www.sam.gov.
4. Return to Grants.gov and, using in your DUNS number, create a user name and password.
5. Register EBiz POC, the person or persons in your organization who may authorize grant submissions.
You may now return to grants.gov to peruse the grant opportunities. There you will find a list with the opportunity number, the title, the agency funding that particular small business grant, the date it was first posted and the closing date for applying. Click on the left “Funding Opportunity number” and it will take you to a full description of the grant. You will note they are very specific: “Clinical Studies of Safety and Effectiveness of Orphan Products Research Project Grant” or “FMCS Labor-Management Cooperation Grant Program”. Once you have clicked on a grant number you will see tabs at the top which give you a synopsis, a history, any related documents, and the “package”. The package is the documents you must submit in order to apply. At the top right is a “print this package” button.
Both the application procedure and the reporting requirements (if you do receive a grant) will likely exceed anything you’ve experienced. The money will probably have to be kept separate from other funds and every penny accounted for.
Your state may have granting programs as well. Search the state government site. Grants for women owned business and minority owned businesses may also be available through your state government. You may need to be certified by the state as woman or minority owned in order to be eligible.
Private Sector Grants
In brief, there are virtually none. If you search on “private sector grants for small business” you’ll get information on the government sites above, a range of the aforementioned scams, and invitations to apply for loans.
You may be able to find some limited program:
FEDEX’s gives one $25,000 grant and nine smaller grants per year to small businesses. Chase Bank awards a trip to Google for a small business marketing workshop, a Google laptop and a credit towards Google’s Consumer Surveys. That sort of program, typically by companies interested in you as a customer, crops up from time to time.
In brief, unless your business qualifies for one of the very targeted government grant programs, pursuing free money is a waste of your time.