There have been many misconceptions about grants and who can receive funding awards. Many of these misconceptions are propagated by late night infomercials such as the “question mark” guy. Although most of the claims from these infomercials have some basis in truth, the actual processes are often so restrictive that only a very few individuals or businesses would qualify.
The truth is that most grant funding opportunities are designed to help with new or existing programs from established, financially stable, organizations. One of the initial checks to determine if you should seek grant funding is to equate the word “grants” with “program” This will get you started on the right track. There are grants for other purposes of course, but the number of those grant opportunities are more limited. Most funding opportunities are for programs and / or projects.
Understand that just because you “need” or “want” something is not a very good reason why you should receive grant funding. There must be a good reason, or purpose, as to what you are going to do with the grant funds. The fact that you do not have something, like the newest technology or more space, is not in itself a very strong reason that you should have it.
Another weak reason to request funding is that your organization does not have enough money. There are few grant opportunities which will pay annual expenses. It is difficult to find funding opportunities to pay for just salaries or to amass capital assets, regardless if the request is apparent or obfuscated. Most non-profits are business corporations and should be run like a business – attempting to generate most of their revenue through earned income.
The purpose of grant funding is not designed for cash flow problems, pay off debts, start a business, or hire more staff. Although there are always exceptions and isolated incidents of these kinds of items being funded, they are very rare to find. For these purposes it would be better to seek Government Contracts, SBA loans, or hard money investors, depending on the nature of the business.
Ironically the purpose of funding is not to help new and small businesses with their initial lack of start-up capital.
The best way to determine if an opportunity is a good fit for a business if the program idea is competitive enough to receive grant funding and the probability of your project design to receive funding is to consult with a certified grant writer.