SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—YOUR GUIDE
PART 1: IS THERE A GRANT OUT THERE FOR YOU?
By Steve Meyer, Steve Meyer Consulting LLC
My purpose for this blog is to provide practical down-to-earth guidance to those who are looking to fund ventures, causes and initiatives with grants. Thousands and thousands of people and organizations receive grant funding every year. The number of grant applications that are rejected is probably 10X those who are successful. My goal is to help those who have a legitimate fundable grant request end up in the funded category.
This first installment focuses on helping the would-be grant applicant determine if they indeed have a project that is worth pursuing grant funding for. Having worked as a professional grant consultant for twenty years, I find myself compelled to debunk some misinformation about grants that has led many people down a path of unrealistic expectations for grant funding. I do not intend to stifle anyone from considering grant opportunities for their initiative, whatever it may be. I just want them to be cognizant of what the realities of the grant world are, and not to be too enamored with false hope. A lot of time, energy and false hope are often wasted pursuing grant opportunities that simply don’t exist or that have such a marginal chance of success that the chase may be more costly than the benefit.
As a professional grant consultant, the common question I address is; “Is there a grant for my ____ project?” Or, the statement I am often confronted with is “I want to _______, go find me some grant money,” or even better yet: “I’ve got this idea and my friend told me there’s lots of grant money out there I can get—go find it for me.”
The root of such statements is a misconception that there is, as I also often hear; “All kinds of grant money available for anything.” Having worked as a professional grant consultant for two decades, I warn the grant seeker that the pot of gold is not as overflowing as they may be led to believe. In fact, in many cases it will be found that funding sources range from limited to extremely limited. However, there is help for a lot of things as long as it is the right thing.
TYPES OF GRANTS
Any time you are talking about grant funds you are basically talking about four general types of sources: federal grants, state grants, foundation grants and local development type grants. It is true there are thousands if not tens of thousands of grant sources available. Each of these thousands of grants has its own parameters.
WHO REALLY IS ELIGIBLE
If you are a private or want-to-be private business enterprise from a federal grant perspective, your chances of finding grant funding are close to zero unless you are from certain minority groups and/or your initiative that within well defined guidelines. Grants generally don’t fund businesses, they fund causes. Occasionally a business can get grants by supporting those causes or forming some sort of alliance with an organization that has 501c3 status. Some local or state development grants may offer hope for business development grant, but if you’re an independent over the road trucker, Uncle Sam isn’t going to give you a grant for a new truck.
Any endeavor that already has a successful start has a better chance of being funded. Funding a concept or an idea is nothing but blue sky in the eye of a potential funder. If you have an endeavor that has at least gotten itself off the ground and shows promise of achieving its mission, you are past go and may wish to proceed.
HIGHEST PROBABILITIES OF SUCCESS
Generally speaking, as I see it, the initiatives that have the highest probability of finding grant sources are government entities or 501c3 non-profit organizations– particularly those that focus on medical science, alternative energy, technology, economic development, education, disaster recovery and relief; assistance to disadvantaged people and people with disabilities. If your initiative or cause fits one of these characteristics, then it’s time to conduct a grant search, which will be covered in upcoming installments.
You can do an on-line search and find numerous enterprises that for a set fee promise to find you grant funding for any purpose. The Better Business Bureau has something to say about these enterprises at the website http://www.casperjournal.com/business/article_0524a91e-82d8-57d1-88fe-9abd401057d2.html?comment_form=true
Subsequent blog posts will assist grant seekers with the grant application process and help you prepare competitive grant applications that have the highest probability of success.
Steve Meyer is a grant writing and emergency management consultant. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com.