Grants are funds offered to companies, non-profits, and other organizations to help these groups reach their goals. For some organizations, grant money accounts for most or all of their operating budgets. Needless to say, it is essential for them to do their best to win these funds, which do not have to be paid back.
Getting grants isn't as easy as filling out a simple form. Instead, detailed paperwork, including explicit plans for the use of the funds, must be submitted. Typically, a variety of other requirements must also be met.
One mistake, or simply an unconvincing proposal, can put the organization out of the running. For this reason, those who are serious about getting grants will hire a professional to do their grant writing for them.
Who Gives Grants?
Grants can come from governmental organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, a wide variety of educational foundations, environmental NGOs, and more. Each grant-giving organization typically has one or more goals that it wants to promote. It provides grants to those it deems most likely to help it further its agenda.
Some grants, such as the Pell Grant, are well-known because they are given to individuals. Others are only known in detail by specific professional segments, such as research physicians. All can be very important to people or groups who need funding to meet their objectives.
Where are Grants Found?
There are a wide variety of sources for finding grants. Locating the sources can sometimes be easy, but it can also be a lot of work in itself. It mostly depends on which types of grants you're looking for.
Educational grants for students are some of the easiest to locate. High school counselors will know of the common ones, such as Pell grants. Colleges and universities also offer plenty of information about grants, either through their financial aid offices or their counselors. Some will even push students to apply, regardless of their likelihood of actually being approved.
For grants related to more esoteric work, more research is often needed. Trade magazines, libraries, and other such sources are typically good. While it's sometimes possible to find grants through a basic search engine, this is unlikely due to the prevalence of sites that sell dubious "guides" of varying quality levels.
What Happens if a Grant Application is Accepted?
While various grant-providing organizations can have different specific policies, here is what you typically can expect:
- A long wait after you submit your application. It can take between three months and one year to be informed of whether or not your proposal is accepted. Federal grants can be the fastest, and foundation grants the slowest, but there is much overlap here. If you apply for a corporation's grant, you may never be informed of the result if your proposal doesn't win.
- Once your proposal is approved, it typically doesn't take long before you actually get the funds. If your grant is for your organization or business, the money will likely come directly to your entity, either as a check or a direct deposit. Student grants, on the other hand, may be paid directly to the school you listed in your application.
Grants are essential to the economy, scientific progress, continuing education, non-profit work, and more. The more you know about all of the steps and requirements, the higher your chances of success are.