January 21st, 2016
There is a government grant for just about anybody, if you know where to look. Countless individuals and organizations receive non-repayable government grants and funding every single year. The Canadian government contributed $34.5 billion in federal grants, contributions, and subsidies during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. That works out to roughly 13 cents for each tax dollar spent. With the right plan, there is no stopping your visions and dreams from becoming realities.
Of course, everyone has to work for these grants. Even non-repayable government grants have hidden hoops that you might not consider. It takes a significant investment time to produce a successful grant application. You won’t have this money simply handed to you: after all, government grants are a privilege, not a right, so treat them with the respect and attention they deserve.
Construct a plan
Most people fail before they start because they lack direction. There is no “right” or “correct” way to construct your application. Don’t think of grant writing as a formula. It’s a process, and you will have to work hard to find the process that works best for your industry.
Starting vague will never get you anywhere, and will likely sink your application before you even submitted it. Starting early, on the other hand, will give your application traction. You need to plan your grant writing process, including how you envision your organization using this grant.
You should always be responsible for your grant use. You will have to answer to a government organization after successfully securing a grant, so be prepared ahead of time. Where will funding directly benefit your organization, and how will it get used? Ask the hard questions now, because you are guaranteed to face them later. If you fail to ask them, there might not even be a “later” for the government grant in question.
Many government grants give preference to organizations that receive funding from multiple avenues. Don’t just look at government grants: consider bringing investors into the equation as well. Various sources of incoming funding makes you attractive and makes your application stand out.
Be realistic: build your strategy
Even the best grant application can fail. You could read an entire book of successful grant applications, tailor yours in a similar fashion, and still fall short. That’s because you learned how to write a grant without understanding why you need one, how you plan to use the funding, or communicating when or where it will benefit your company or your investors.
Grants are not just about the money. You haven’t won the lottery, but you have won the opportunity to make your business better than it is. Once you understand this reality you will have a step up on your competitors who continue to operate with an archaic mind-set.
Focus on clarity; focus on your niche
If you work in a highly specialized field, be prepared to pare the essence of your application into layman’s terms. You are in trouble if you can’t easily explain your application to your grandmother. Most people reading your application who have the power to award funding likely lack a firm grounding in the area you are applying for government grants, so you need to make sure that they understand why you matter.
Save yourself time and energy by concentrating your efforts where they count. Yes, there was $34.5 billion in Canadian government grants in 2011, but your organization likely meets the criteria for a very select few of these funding opportunities. Do the legwork to identify which funding initiatives that are most helpful to your specific cause, and eliminate the rest from consideration. Then, narrow this further to the ones that offer a high probability of success. You will then have your niche—now use it. After doing so, you can focus on assembling the best team to write your application.