How to determine if a grant program is right for you
Being strategic with which grant applications you apply to can make the difference between success and frustration.
If you’ve discovered what looks to be a suitable grant to expand or innovate your business, ensure that your time and effort is put to good use by establishing if your business meets eligibility requirements to avoid disappointment. We're here to help you navigate your chances for grant approval before getting started.
Key Grant Terms
Grant programs can be full of jargon that may be tough to understand. Here’s a list to keep on hand while determining your business’s eligibility requirements:
Applications to be received at a fixed date and time. Check the grant program website for precise instructions, how applications are received, and cut-off dates.
Applications are only open for certain periods of the year.
Applications are accepted any time of year, but programs have limited funding that may run out before the end of a fiscal year; applying sooner rather than later is key.
Letters of intent (LOI)
This describes the funding requested and typically outlines the primary activities and projects of the organization applying for a grant.
Grant programs differ greatly depending on the program, so reading the fine print of eligible costs is vital. Eligible costs refer to which expenses a grant program will cover within the scope of a project. For example, a program may specify that only equipment purchases that reduce a business’s ecological footprint are eligible for funding through the program.
Organizations and businesses must determine whether they are defined as the type of applicant a program seeks to support. For example, a food manufacturing business could qualify for a tech-innovation grant, but may not qualify for a community building grant.
Contribution ratios refer to the percentage of a total project cost that a business must provide in order to receive the remaining balance in the form of a grant. For example, a grant program may require a business to contribute 50% of a project cost to qualify for the remaining 50% to be covered by the program.
Maximum and minimum funding limits
A given project must not request more than the maximum funding limit (stay within the program budget), and likewise might require a minimum project spend to qualify for funding.
Grant program “streams” are used to separate eligibility requirements based on the type of organization or project that is applying for funding. For example, a grant program may have a small business stream and a large business stream, each with a different set of eligibility requirements and maximum funding amounts.
A grant program will weigh out a funding request based on criteria that may differ across various applications. Often, applications are evaluated based on need, impact, demonstrated efficacy of an organization, and fit with a given grant program’s set of goals.
Payment terms, schedules, and compliance
Payment terms may involve confirmation of contribution ratios, support letters, or other financial documents. Some grant programs may parcel out payments over a project’s duration. For example, a proposed development project over 12 months may receive two payments.
Grant programs often require adherence to a planned schedule (as per one’s application) and reporting to the program if a project is delayed.
Grant programs may request compliance with certain aspects detailed in their guidelines, which may range from use of local materials to communications to adhering to the details of a project proposal.
In evaluating grant opportunities, find a given program’s objectives and success metrics to decide if you can meet the guidelines. Can you create a certain number of jobs? Do you have a history of similar projects? Can you reduce your carbon footprint? Can you undertake renovations to ensure accessibility? Can you improve (and prove) efficiency with technology?
Ensuring your eligibility is the first step in any application. If you're eligible, look at the costs and potential impact, as well as risks, for your business, and try to stay optimistic and realistic about your organizational capacity to take on a major project. Grant application evaluators are diligent about squaring what is proposed with what is possible in given budgets and timeframes.
Finally, keep looking! Rather than try to tailor a project for a not-quite-right program stream, research will often reveal grants that are the right fit for your proposal, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success.
Interested in signing up for ongoing, customized grant program matches? Consider the GrantMatch Hub.
To solve the challenges that many business owners face in determining which grant programs they may be eligible for, the GrantMatch team developed the GrantMatch Hub, a brand new, all-in-one platform that makes it easy to identify and apply for grants that fit your business. For as little as $25 per month (when you sign up for an annual subscription), you can access customized, continually updated program matches, clear program summaries, and more.
Signing up takes less than 5 minutes.
The sign-up process is simple:
- Click here to create your account.
- Start by filling out some basic information about your business (sector, number of employees, revenue range, etc.).
- Choose between a monthly or annual subscription and complete checkout.
- Explore what the platform has to offer and begin reviewing curated grant program matches for your business.
- Receive new grant matches in your inbox as programs are introduced.
The GrantMatch Hub gives you the tools you need to succeed in securing funding.