What Are Grants?
Grants are a form of financial or other similar assistance that is given freely without any requirement of repayment. Grants are usually in the form of money, but some types of grants may offer access to resources, services, goods or other aid.
Since the grant recipient is not required to repay the assistance, a grant is basically a free gift unlike a loan. Additionally, recipients are not required to pay taxes on their gifts.
Grants are often offered by government agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations, foundations, educational institutions and trusts. However, small businesses and individuals will also frequently offer grants.
Because grants are free and tax exempt, they are probably the most popular type of assistance among those looking for aid. However, grants tend to be more difficult to acquire as compared to loans and the cash amount of grants is usually less than what is available through lending assistance.
Who can benefit from grants?
Such a wide range of grants are available, that it is possible to find something for almost any type of activity that is beneficial in some way or another. Students again are among the most common recipients of grants.
Student grants are available for both undergraduate and graduate study. Among the most popular student grants are those offered by the federal government and other government agencies. Some private grants are also available to students especially for those that have outstanding academic records.
Organizations involved in civic and charitable work often put much energy into seeking grant funding. Many corporations offer grants to such organizations as part of their community outreach programs.
Because so many people are interested in grants, there can be fierce competition as multiple applicants vie for what is available. The larger grants are especially attractive and draw the most applicants. In order to compete, it is often advisable to hire professional grants writers to prepare one's grant application.
Grant writing has become a big business, and the best grant writers demand significant compensation for their services. Indeed, some companies are solely based on offering grant writing services.
Generally speaking, grant applicants should be non-profits if they are private organizations. Public agencies and public schools also frequently apply for grants.
As obtaining grants is very competitive, organizations should be prepared to invest a substantial amount of time and effort in this endeavor. The group should have a detailed yearly budget and an active board of directors.
When seeking grants, it is important to make sure that the group's mission relates specifically to the sought-after grant. The grant proposal must outline in detail why the group should be chosen over others that have applied for the same grant.
The organization should have records showing their activities and financial accounting for at least the past two years. Generally, it will be difficult for brand new organizations to receive grant funding.
What types of grants exist?
The number of grants available is vast with both public and private agencies offering a very wide variety of options for practically every purpose.
Government grants are among the popular and they are especially used by students attending college or other post-secondary education institutions. Grants are also commonly available for organizations, especially those that work on a non-profit basis.
A large number of foundations and trusts offer grants for non-profit and charitable organizations. According to the Foundation Center, there are more than 88,000 private organizations offering more than $40 billion worth of grants each year.
Grants are also widely available to support scientific and technical research. Most grants of this type are offered to educational institutions or to other large private or public research facilities. However, there are also grants offered to individual scientists and innovators.
The amount of assistance provided by grants can vary from a few hundred dollars or less to grants of seven figures or more. Generally, the larger grants are offered to organizations and individuals that have already established a reputation as leaders in their field.
Grants have become an important form of funding for many organizations and individuals. Indeed, in some cases, grants are essential for certain types of work and activity to continue. The money and other assistance provided by grants helps to drive the economy, encourage innovation, support communities and create jobs.
The idea behind grants is that many good endeavors are lacking in funding and that society in general benefits when these activities are supported with free money. In comparison, loans often place great a burden on recipients if they are unable to make repayments. Interest-bearing loans are particularly difficult, as they require that the recipients generate substantial "profits."
How to obtain information on grants?
One of the best places to search for grants is over the Internet using major search engines like Google and Yahoo. Some websites actually allow users to compare different types of grant packages.
Many sites also specialize in helping users find and apply for grants. Generally, these sites offer tools that allow users to search for grants based on specific keywords or to browse through grant listings based on category trees.
Often these sites will also allow the user to sort and filter results to narrow down the listings. When searching for options, it is a good idea to closely read all the information provided as not to waste time applying for the wrong grants.
The grant writing process if very laborious and time-consuming, so applicants should not choose grants that they are not qualified for or that are inappropriate for their organization.
If the organization or individual can afford hiring a grant writer, then is the preferable method. Grant writers have the experience and expertise needed for your application to stand out from the pile. Otherwise, the applicant will need to conduct significant research to ensure that they know what the grant provider is looking for when they decide on a recipient.
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