Winning a grant can be a dream come true when you’re starting or growing a business. A grant is money that is gifted to you and your venture that doesn’t have to be paid back. But how do you find private grant opportunities so that you can get the application process rolling? Here are a few resources:
The Leadership Grants Organization is an international group that awards cash grants ranging from $1,000 up to $100,000, as well as in-kind resources to entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses. Applicant requirements include:
- Starting or launching a new business within the next six months
- Using the award within six months of receipt
- Be an American or Canadian citizen or legal immigrant
Grant applicants are required to have strong business plans, knowledge of the particular industry and be versed in business basics.
The Georgia-Pacific Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the giant paper manufacturer. The foundation supports educational, environmental, community and entrepreneurial efforts. Assistance is available to small businesses, youth businesses and minority-owned businesses. The foundation exists to make life better in the communities where it does business, so applicants must be located within a 30-mile radius of a Georgia-Pacific manufacturing facility.
Georgia-Pacific offers an online quiz that is the first step toward determining if your business is eligible for a grant or assistance.
Each month the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) provides a business development grant of up to $4,000 to fuel growth in an existing company. To be eligible to apply, the business owner should:
- Be an NASE Member in good standing.
- Demonstrate a business need that could be fulfilled by the grant.
- Provide a detailed explanation of how the grant proceeds will be used.
- Show how the grant will improve business growth and success.
- Offer supporting documentation like a resume and business plan.
NASE offers an online application process for its grants.
Amber Grants for Women
Women in business may qualify for WomensNet.com’s Amber Grant for Women. They offer a $500 monthly grant that you must initially qualify for in order to win the annual $2000 grant. The board at Amber Grants is looking for female entrepreneurs with great passion and a great story about what they do. The Amber Grant is open to women 18 years and older who are residents of the U.S. and Canada. The application process is available online. The Amber Grants’ website also offers a database of other grant opportunities that are available to women from government and private sources.
Socially Conscious Businesses
Businesses that are considered socially conscious may be eligible for grant money that is not available to every kind of small business. Social entrepreneurship is a category that can include non-profits, businesses run by civic-minded people and for-profit ventures that make money while promoting social change. The Foundation Center offers a series of resources for social entrepreneurs that include both private and public grant opportunities.
Big Company Contests
Entrepreneurs with competitive streaks may want to keep an eye out for contests run by big businesses to promote the growth of small businesses. While the requirements and prize money vary, some of the contests have included Mission Main Street Grants by Chase, The American Small Business Championship by Sam’s Club and SCORE, the FedEx Think Bigger small business grant contest and the Tap the Future contest sponsored by Miller Lite.
Free money isn’t easy to find, but there is some out there. Entrepreneurs in search of private grants for their businesses should follow these steps:
- Carefully review grant opportunities and all of the necessary qualifications
- Follow the application instructions exactly and submit all necessary materials
- Focus on the value of your business and its potential for growth and expansion
- Submit the grant application before the deadline
- Remain positive and upbeat about the business that you love
Winning a grant isn’t a sure thing no matter how innovative you and your business are. There are other ways to improve your cash flow that could include a line of credit from an alternative lender like Kabbage.
Have you and your business been selected to receive grant money? Tell us about it in the comments below.