On average, 25 to 50 grant applications hit my email box every day, and only 1 applicant will even make it to the final review process. After a quick scan of each application, I move 99% of them over to the "does not meet grant requirements" folder. Am I being cold and heartless? No, not at all.
In fact, most of the applications are heart wrenching tales of people who truly need the money - the problem is that they are not applying for the right grant. You see, each grantor, whether it is a government or private sector entity, has certain guidelines and protocols that MUST be met before an application can even be considered for the grant funding to be awarded. In my case, I award a small business grant several times a year, The Amber Grant For Women Entrepreneurs.
The average grant size is $500, and each grant period deadline is clearly stated on our web site, along with the amount to be awarded. The terms & conditions page clearly advises grantees that their project must be completed with the amount awarded, or significantly impacted by the award.
Instead, at least half of the applications are for building purchases or renovations, or the purchase of manufacturing equipment, autos etc. Obviously, these applications never make it past the initial review because the funding needed is far beyond our grant award - and yet, these applicants are no doubt sitting and waiting for their grant application to be reviewed - frustrated when they don't get their money.
The next problem that I encounter is the description of the applicant's business proposal. We ask for a detailed description of the business venture, and how the funds will be used.
"I have no idea what business I am going to do but I want to work from home because I don't like my job" shows up more times than you would believe. Want to guess where these applications wind up? You guessed it - they certainly don't get moved on to the 'finalists' round. The FIRST step in finding a grant for any venture is to make sure that you are applying to the RIGHT SOURCE! Go over the Grantor's funding guidelines thoroughly BEFORE you complete your grant application. You are simply wasting your time if you apply for a grant that doesn't fund the kind of project you are planning, or for the amount that you need.
The second step is following the instructions - answer the questions in detail, put some thought into it.
Make your business proposal sound as though it is important - because if you want the money for your business, it SHOULD be! Grants for businesses are almost impossible to find - don't lessen your chances even more by ignoring the guidelines!
Melody Wigdahl is founder of http://www.WomensNet.Net , a networking and resource site for women entrepreneurs, and the home of the Amber Grants for Women in Business. Melody is also a serial entrepreneur and lifelong geek, who enjoys sharing her experience with other women entrepreneurs. Visit http://www.WomensNet.Net for more free information on finding and applying for business grants for women!