There's money out there. Maybe money for what you want to do.
This article presents an overview of the grant (Federal and private) process and resources necessary to find and apply for funding.
Get Focused First
Before you even start looking for a funding source, do some hard, in-depth planning and analysis of your proposed project. All Federal (public) and non-government (private) funding sources demand a precise, brief, and clear presentation explaining:
- The existing problem or problems your project will address.
- The expected the results - long and short-term.
- The project's organization, staffing, budgetary needs, and costs of implementation.
In short, having the entire project well mapped out will not only help you get a grant, but also in selecting potential funding sources that offer enough money, and support projects like or related to yours. (For example, don't bother approaching the USDA with a project to control substance abuse.)
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development has developed this excellent list of "Ten Things You Should Do Before You Write a Grant Proposal" aimed at the project planning phase.
Consider Non-Government Sources First
Straight out, Federal grants are not easy to get. Depending on the subject area, scope, and plain old expense of the proposed project, non-government grants may be a better choice. Some typical examples include:
- Community foundations working mainly on local projects
(San Francisco Foundation, Boston Foundation, etc.)
- Corporate foundations
(Coca Cola Foundation, AT&T Foundation, etc.)
- National Foundations
(Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, etc.)
Two great Web sources for finding information on private foundations and grants are:
Nonprofit Charitable Organizations On Mining Co.
Mining Co. Guide, Stan Hutton has developed great lists of grant finding and getting tools on his Information About Grant Proposals and Information about Foundations pages.
The Funding Center
One of the top Web-based sources of information on private, community, and corporate funding sources.
By far the best single source of information about Federal grants is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (the CFDA). In this 1000+ page mega-book you'll find information on all 1,386 grant, loan, loan guarantee, service, information, scholarship, training, and insurance programs administered by the Federal Government.
The Health and Human Services Department provides a great service to grant-seekers in this online version of the CFDA. Here you will find programs neatly indexed and searchable alphabetically, by department or agency, subject, or target group.
With each program, you get a complete description that includes everything you need to know to prepare and apply for it.
You should also look at the Types of Assistance page explaining each of the 15 types of Federal assistance programs available.
My own US Government Grants NetLinks page offers direct links to grant and funding information from several Federal agencies.
Proposal Writing: Internet Resources
A great list of online assistance from The University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Library -- a great source of information itself.
About Grants for Starting a Business
Many Federal agencies offer grants and other programs directly benefiting new or existing small businesses. For direct links to grant and funding information from various Federal agencies, see the US Government Grants NetLinks page.
The SBA (Small Business Administration) currently has no funding available in the form of outright grants. They have in the past and probably will again, but not right now. However, SBA does offer the low interest SBA loans programs which help open thousands of businesses every year.