Five misconceptions about grant funding you need to know before you apply
9 December 2019
Written by Snap Out, a user and market consultancy in Milton Keynes.
Whilst many of us think a grant could be a magic pot of unlimited money, they are much more complicated and harder to secure than a lot of people expect.
We specialise in grant funding support, helping companies to increase their chances of success when applying for funding. As such, businesses regularly come to us for help after struggling with getting grant funding in the past.
Often, companies have misconceptions on what grant funding is, from writing an application the night before to not getting the money when expected.
In this post, I’ll cover the five most common misconceptions, to help you make a more informed decisions about whether going for grant funding is right for you and your business.
Misconception 1: It’s free money
A grant is not “free” money and is cannot be used in the same way as a loan.
To be considered, you need to have a clearly outlined project plan with defined aims as a grant can only be used for a specific idea, project, product or service development. That’s why part of the application process is outlining exactly how you will use the money. Each and every penny of it! For some funding organisations, there will be regular meetings and reports that need to detail how the money has been spent.
In reality, the money has to be used for a project that develops a product or service.
Misconception 2: A grant proposal is easy to write
Writing any grant proposal is hard work, never mind writing a successful one! It takes a lot of time and effort. If you think you can write a successful proposal the night before a closing date, it is unlikely to be awarded funding.
You need to allow yourself time to research the grant you’re applying for, read around the topic area and to plan, create and write the project down to a tee. The application requires detail; what the project is, who will be involved, how do you plan to execute it, why do you need the money, when will you start and finish, where do you plan on marketing the product?
Grants are also very competitive! So, if you don’t carve out enough time to do a proper job, the chances are that the application will be rejected.
Misconception 3: Impact doesn’t matter, it’s all about who needs the money most
In order to be successful, the idea you are proposing has to have a positive impact.
This impact can take on many forms including social, cultural, environmental, technological and, most obviously, financial! For example, the idea being proposed could increase jobs, it could better for the environment, or it could minimise crime.
Grants are not awarded based on greatest need, rather most grants go to applicants whose proposals meet the aims of the grant and seem most likely to deliver.
A grant is a sum of money given to you by a governmental, commercial or charity organisation for a particular purpose or use.
Misconception 4: There are no strings attached
The successful awarding of a grant does come with a promise to deliver. You outlined how you would use the money, and therefore you have to keep to this.
Some funders require you to make regular check-ins and updates to ensure the project is going to plan and that you are meeting the specific objectives you outlined; others make site visits to ensure the work is being done. You may have to provide evidence of the final product or service you intended to use the money for.
The funder has every right to withdraw the money if they feel you are not fulfilling your end of the deal, which may impact you applying and winning future grants from the same funder. You need to be sure to use the money as outlined and any deviations must be reported to the funder for approval.
Misconception 5: You get the grant funding immediately
Once you’ve submitted your grant funding application, you may have to wait a couple of months before you hear the outcome. If you are awarded the grant funding, you may need to wait around a month for the documentation, due diligence and contracts to be completed, signed and agreed before the work begins. Once the project begins, the funds may be paid in arrears, meaning that the grant funding money could take around six months to receive after you’ve found out that you have been awarded the grant funding.
This means that you may need to factor in your cash flow and aims of the project around the timing of the product or service you’re developing.
A grant can be a brilliant way to get your company the funding it deserves, helping to fast-track you towards success. Whilst it certainly isn’t an unlimited pot of free money and the process can be complicated, we would hugely recommend applying if you’re considering a grant, and fit all of the necessary criteria!
Hopefully the above common misconceptions have helped you to decide whether you should be applying for a grant. And, if you do go for it, we wish you the best of luck!