As you are probably aware by now, applying for a grant is a tricky business and available funding is short supply. But if you can keep the following top tips in mind, you’ll be well equipped to tackle the process and give yourself an edge over other competing companies:
1. Apply as soon as you can – The best time to apply for a scheme is when it first opens because this is when there will be the most money available. Competition will be less fierce and those administering the scheme will be keen to get their grants awarded.
2. Talk to the awarding body before you apply – By making a personal contact you will get advice on whether it’s worth applying, help on completing your application and someone to talk to as things progress.
3. Keep yourself informed – Grants are constantly being introduced and updated and there are very few venues for finding out this information, so it’s a question of keeping your eyes open.
4. Don’t start your project before you’ve applied – If you go ahead before asking for the money, the awarding body is simply going to take the view that starting without their assistance means you really don’t need the cash in the first place.
5. Make sure your application is in connection with a specific project – Most often grants are handed out for a specific reason, not simply to fund business growth. So if you need new equipment or more staff to launch a new product, emphasis the product not the equipment. You also need to highlight the advantages of the product’s success which could be, for example, job creation.
6. Write your application proposals with as much attention to the awarding body’s objectives as possible. Make sure you mention the benefits the project will bring particularly to the local community and environment. Again these should all fit in with the objectives of the scheme.
7. Don’t be untruthful or bend the facts but try and imagine all the potential implications of your project even if, at the end of the day, you simply want to increase revenue and profits.
8. Make sure you have a strong business plan to submit along with your application. If you already have one from when you applied for bank finance then you’ll probably need to update it.
9. Ensure the awarding body is completely convinced there is no chance of you moving ahead with your project without the grant. Not unreasonable really.
10. And finally, ensure you have matching funds available, as it is extremely rare for a grant to finance 100% of the costs of any project. So those handing out the dough need to be totally sure you can put your money where your mouth is.