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As business owners, our funding options are usually limited. More often than not, you either opt for loans or go public—a third option you need to take a closer look at though are Grants or grant money.
Yea, you may be hearing the term for the first time, but don’t worry, this post is about to take care of that. Furthermore, it also tries to fix every misconception you may have.
But talking about misconceptions, a lot of individuals like to think of loans and grants as the same. However, they are entirely different. You will find out why soon enough.
So let’s go through a few questions to set things into perspective.
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What are Grants?
Grants are free funds disbursed by award agencies like government departments, trusts or foundations, corporations to recipients. These recipients usually include educational institutions, non-profit organizations, businesses, or individuals.
So, in a nutshell, all you need to do is hit the search button, identify a suitable opportunity, write a proposal, and apply. But, the process, in reality, isn’t as simple as I just made it sound. You need to realize that we are talking about free funding. So you’ll need to follow every requirement down to the latter.
Nevertheless, the next phase of this post exposes you to the different types of free fundings.
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What are the 4 types of Grants?
Foundation and Private Charity Opportunities
These are opportunities managed by private non-profit organizations and foundations. They range from larger organizations, like the Gates Foundation, to smaller ones.
Furthermore, some of these organizations usually have a broader focus that benefits different individuals or businesses, while others have a specific purpose (that is focusing on a narrower set of businesses, researches, or individuals)
So, before you apply for any free funding, it is safer first to run a background check to find out what kind of grants you’re dealing with.
This saves you a lot of stress and quality time and also gets you closer to receiving the grant money.
Read Also: Federal government business grants
Competitive and Understanding the formula Funding Opportunities
Most grants are either competitively awarded or given to beneficiaries according to laid down formulae. This literally implies that only the best applicants become beneficiaries.
Furthermore, a perfect example of formula opportunities includes federal, state, and local government programs for education, transportation infrastructure, and Medic-aid health insurance. In addition, the allocation of grant money is often based on the demographics of particular regions.
On the other hand, competitive opportunities are usually disbursed for scientific research, certain kinds of business innovations and ideas, arts and humanities, and some tuition programs.
But at the end of the day, you would need to ensure you fully understand the grants’ criteria and eligibility before making any move. Communicating with the organization in question saves you the troubles.
Funding Opportunities for Small Businesses
The primary goal of small businesses is expansion, but expansion requires funding. And trust me, a large number of funding opportunities out there that focus on making this happen. Some of them include private organizations and -on rare occasions- government agencies.
However, opportunities like this often put some factors into consideration before awarding funds. Factors like gender, color, disadvantaged economic areas, and so on. Although there are exceptions that overlook
Funding Opportunities for College Expenses
College tuitions are usually expensive and probably the most common utilization of grant money. To this end, the terms, “grants” and “scholarships” have been used interchangeably in the past. I wouldn’t say it was a wrong perception. They pretty much mean the same thing; “free funding.”
But, grants and scholarships are totally different from the student or small business loans. You usually have to pay back those.
Most student grants include the Pell foundation opportunity -basically for college students in search of financial aid- and other programs available to college students pursuing specific courses.
Furthermore, a large number of college grants often require that applicants meet a form of criteria such as minimum CGPA, prior military service, a specific ethnic background, or a bunch of other stuff.
Read Also: All You Need To Know About World Bank Grants
Are Grants Refundable?
At this point, I feel you already know the answer to that. But for formality sakes, it’s a No. Grants are not refundable. Think of them as Christmas or birthday gifts, only in this case you have to apply for them and meet specific criteria.
How do I Qualify for Grants
Determining whether you qualify for funding opportunities or grant money comes from strict adherence to grant eligibility or criteria. There’s so much chemistry between those two; because flaunting any rule means automatic disqualification.
You also need to realize that these eligibility requirements are there for a purpose. Millions of proposals often come in for these grants, and the only way to reduce the workload is to sieve out individuals who do not meet these requirements.
Grants are the real deal. Although they take time and are pretty stressful, but trust me, they are worth the hustle.