How to get grants for your small business
The grants have helped many businesses affected by the pandemic. Between the federal government, state programs, and private organizations, small business owners have received billions of dollars in funding that they won’t need to repay.
This aid could dry up as the country moves from relief to recovery.
“I think we’re nearing the end of this type of funding,” says Annie Donovan, COO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a New York-based nonprofit that has provided more than $ 200 million in funding. subsidies via COVID. -19 relief programs.
But if you are still looking for free money for your business, others small business grants can help meet your needs. Here’s how to get them.
Understand what is available
Business owners affected by the pandemic can try federal grants for now. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which launched in April, is open to businesses like cinemas, museums and performance venues until its roughly $ 16 billion is exhausted. Applications for additional grant programs like the Restaurant Revitalization Fund are closed.
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Some states also continue to deploy their own grants. For example, the now closed Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery Grant program was launched in May.
For non-COVID grants, the federal government is also a primary source, providing hundreds of billions of dollars each year, according to Grants.gov, a government-run database on these opportunities. These awards have strict qualifications, however, check your eligibility before applying.
Private and corporate grants may be available to more business owners. But there are less and the big rewards have a lot of competition.
For example, the FedEx FDX 2021,
The Small Business Grants competition, which offered a grand prize of $ 50,000, topped 8,300 submissions, more than double the competition for 2020.
Watch for opportunities
For Federal Small Business Grants, visit Grants.gov. The website, managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, lists over 1,000 awards.
State and corporate rewards can be more difficult to obtain, especially since many have quick deadlines. For example, the application window for the Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery grant was only two weeks.
One resource that can help is GrantWatch, according to Frank LaMonaca, president of the Southeastern Connecticut chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit that helps business owners nationwide.
“This is independent of who is providing (funding), whether private or public,” LaMonaca says.
Watch: 41% of small black businesses have closed since the pandemic
GrantWatch charges subscription fees for certain services. With more legwork, you may be able to find untapped opportunities for free by connecting with your local SCORE or Small Business Development Center.
Private subsidies can also recur. If you’ve found a good candidate but missed the deadline, set up a reminder to apply for the next round.
Hit the right notes
LaMonaca says that many grant applications require short answers about why you need the money and how you will use it. You may also need to provide details like a business plan and financial statements.
A winning app will use this information to tell a compelling story.
“It’s important to show that your business doesn’t need to be saved,” says Stephanie Duncan, co-owner of Harmony Harvest Farm in Weyers Cave, Va.
She adds that it’s essential to have a focused plan for the prize and to remember that licensors want to see their money “grow into something amazing.” Harmony Harvest Farm won third place in this year’s FedEx Small Business Grants competition.
Other tips are simpler, like completing the application and sending it on time.
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Randy Scarborough, vice president of global marketing for customer engagement at FedEx, said via email that the company’s competition typically has “a handful of businesses that either miss deadlines or are disqualified,” typically for not having met a requirement.
Watch out for scams
Getting free money can often sound too good to be true. In some cases, it can be.
Before applying for a grant and providing information such as a social security number or employer identification number, ensure its validity. Red flags may include a charge or request that does not require anything other than your personal or business information.
Donovan says to watch out for phishing scams, in which fraudsters pose as an organization like LISC. Examining email addresses and URLs can help make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate licensor.
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Also keep track of any small business grants you apply for. That way, you won’t be surprised – or suspicious – when contacted to win.
“Sometimes we have to call (the recipients) three times,” says Donovan. “Some people didn’t take the money, unfortunately.”
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Ryan Lane writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]