Small business grants are financial assistance usually awarded to small businesses by the government or private organizations. They are a great way for smaller businesses to fund projects or expenses they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
In this digital economy, businesses of all sizes are constantly looking for new ways to grow. Small businesses, in particular, have a lot to gain by applying for grants, which are mostly reserved for nonprofit organizations and individuals. If you’re starting a business or expanding an existing one, check out these valuable tips on the best small business grants in the U.S. and how to apply for them.
How to Find the Best Small Business Grants for Your Business
Finding the best small business grants for your business can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to look. To get started, you can follow these simple steps:
✅ Define Your Business Plan
Before you can start applying for small business grants, you have to define your business plan. Take some time to assess your business model, product, and target market. Next, create a detailed plan with the help of your business plan template.
✅ Create a Budget and Financial Plan
Once you have defined your business plan, you can move on to create a budget and financial plan for your business. In your financial plan, include details such as how much funding you need, when you need it, and how you will use it.
✅ Create a Strong Business Model
A strong business model is the foundation of all successful businesses. With a strong business model, you can increase your chances of success and minimize your risk of failure. A strong business model can help you achieve your business goals while reducing expenses.
✅ Define Your Target Market
Another important step when finding the best small business grants is to define your target market. Defining your target market will help you identify your customers better, which will, in turn, help you create an effective marketing strategy.
✅ Find Business Grants for Your Business
Now that you have defined your business plan, created a budget and financial plan, and defined your target market, you can start looking for best small business grants for your business. There are multiple ways to find small business grants. You can look for grants in your local area or search online.
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⫸ Match your project to the grant’s focus
The best small business grants are those that match the focus of your project. For example, if you want to start a nonprofit that teaches financial literacy to disadvantaged families, look for grants that fund programs in financial literacy.
⫸ Make sure your project has a positive impact
The best small business grants are those that have a social or environmental impact. For example, if your project is related to improving water quality, look for grants that fund projects that enhance water quality.
⫸ Do some research to find the right funder
The best small business grants come from philanthropic organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Kellogg Foundation.
⫸ Find the right timing
Make sure you apply for grants when they are open for new applications. For example, if you want to apply for a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, make sure you apply during their funding cycle in January, February, and March.
⫸ Seek grants with low application fees
The best small business grants have low application fees. The average grant application fee is between $50 and $500.
⫸ Don’t forget to follow up after you apply for a grant
After you apply for a grant, make sure you follow up with the funder at least once a month. For example, after you apply for a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, follow up with them once a month until the application deadline.
Steps to Take Before You Apply For a Grant
✔️ Do your research
Before you apply for a grant, make sure you do your research. For example, if you want to apply for a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, make sure you read their grant guidelines.
✔️ Create a project budget
Before you apply for a grant, make sure you create a project budget and financial plan. For example, if you want to start a nonprofit that helps increase financial literacy among low-income families, create a budget that details how you will spend the grant money.
✔️ Make sure you are eligible
Before you apply for a grant, make sure you are eligible. For example, if you want to start a nonprofit that helps low-income families with their finances, make sure you are eligible to apply for nonprofit grants.
2 Important Conditions When Applying for a Grant
Be realistic about how much money you need and how you will spend it. For example, if you apply for a $100,000 Kellogg Foundation grant to create a financial literacy program, make sure you know how you will spend the money.
Be flexible about how you spend the grant money. For example, if you get a $100,000 Kellogg Foundation grant to create a financial literacy program, make sure you understand that you have to use the money for that program.
5 US-Based Small Business Grants to Know About Now
➡️ Best Corporate Grant: FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
Grant amount: $15,000-$50,000
The FedEx grant is one of the most popular small business grants. It’s an excellent option for scaling your small business if you want to expand. Twelve winners receive grant money in addition to $50,000 and $7,500 in FedEx credit. The grant application process is straightforward, and winners are determined by a one-minute video, a logo submission, photos that reflect the personality of their business, and a brief profile.
To apply for a FedEx business grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:
➥Applicants must have been in operation for over a year.
➥Applicants must have less than 50 employees.
➥Applicants must have been using business shipping services within 12 months of applying.
- Twelve winners are selected from applicants of the contest, so if your business isn’t first or second place, you still have ten chances to win thousands of dollars in funding.
- Winners also receive credit for FedEx print and business services.
- Once you’ve entered, you can spread the word to your business’s fans to vote and increase your chances of winning.
- Thousands of businesses apply for this grant contest yearly, with only twelve winners selected, making this one of the most competitive grants to win.
- FedEx small business grants are only available to already established businesses.
➡️ Best Business Grant for Veterans: StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award
Grant amount: $4,000-$15,000
The StreetShares Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides grants and other funding possibilities for veterans and their households to assist and sustain their small businesses. This group’s mission is to educate, help, and inspire veteran entrepreneurship by supplying the resources that may be challenging for this community to get.
To apply for a StreetShares Foundation grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:
➥ Applicants must be a veteran, reserve, or transitioning active duty member (spouses and children of veterans who died in active duty can also apply for this grant).
➥ Applicants must own at least 51% of the business entity applying.
➥ Applicants must be low-income or lack financial resources to grow or support their businesses.
- This grant is available not only for veterans and active military service but for military spouses and children of veterans that died on active duty.
- Three winners of this grant receive different sums, so if you are in the top three, you still have the opportunity to earn money for your business.
- Once applications are submitted, your business’s fans can vote for your business to win the grant money.
- The application process is fairly intensive, requiring a pitch video, application, and presentation at the Military Influencer Conference to qualify.
- Businesses must convey how their business model serves the military and veteran community, which means not all business types will qualify.
➡️ Best Small Business Grant for Minorities: MBDA Grants
Grant amount: Varies based on the grant
The MBDA is where minority-owned businesses can find grants, business consulting, and other kinds of help for their businesses. The MBDA is different from the others on this list because it is funded by giving grants to Minority Business Centers all over the U.S.
By looking for the Minority Business Center near you, you can find grants that your business is eligible for and a lot of other resources available to minority-owned businesses.
To apply for an MBDA grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:
➥ Applicants must obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) to have their applications tracked.
➥ Applicants must be a minority-owned business.
➥ Applicants must register their application with the System for Award Management Registration (SAM).
- The MBDA serves as a resource for grants and many other business services for minorities.
- There are Minority Business Centers all over the U.S. ready to help minority-owned businesses.
- The mission and purpose of this organization are to support minorities in maintaining their small businesses to promote a flourishing community of entrepreneurs.
- Since the MBDA doesn’t issue grants, finding grants can be a little more challenging.
- The application process can be competitive for these grants, so accessing funding can be difficult.
➡️ Best Federal Small Business Grant: SBIR Program
Grant amount: $150,000-$1 million
The SBIR program funds small enterprises and entrepreneurs to develop and study commercially viable high-tech products for government agencies. Corporate financing areas include homeland security, clean drinking water, healthcare, and green building, among others.
This program aims to foster scientific brilliance and new technologies to expand and strengthen the U.S. economy. The SBIR program gives significant seed money and contracts with government agencies to technology companies so that they may study and develop innovative technologies.
To apply for an SBIR business grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:
➥ Applicants must be a for-profit business.
➥ Applicants must have less than 500 employees.
➥ A majority of ownership must be held by one or a combination of the following:
❑ One or more individuals that are citizens or permanent residents
❑ Other for-profit businesses
❑ Venture capital-operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms.
- Winners of the SBIR business grant can be provided with assistance and contracts with 12 government agencies.
- While the grant amount starts at $150,000, promising and successful candidates can receive up to $1 million in additional funding.
- Each participating government agency creates guidelines and eligibility requirements, which means you have a better chance of securing funding if they align with a specific agency’s requirements.
- This grant is highly competitive, which means only a small number of applicants receive grant money through this program.
- The application process is lengthy and time-consuming, which can be a struggle for small business owners.
➡️ Best Small Business Grant for Women: Amber Grant
Grant amount: $10,000-$35,000
WomensNet founded the Amber Grant Foundation in 1998, commemorating a young entrepreneur. Since then, the organization has granted a woman-owned company $10,000 a month, with one of the 12 winners earning an extra $25,000.
Women-owned enterprises and budding entrepreneurs may compete for the Amber Grant each month.
To apply for an Amber Grant, you need to meet the following criteria/eligibility requirements:
➥ Applicants must be a women-owned business.
➥ Applicants must be located in the U.S. or Canada.
➥ Applicants must submit a $15 application fee.
- Applying for the Amber Grant is easy. The only requirement is to tell the foundation about yourself and your business dream: no complicated application process or hefty amounts of paperwork.
- Suppose you are one of the monthly winners. In that case, your loyal customers can vote for your business to receive the additional $25,000 annual grant.
- There is no requirement for the type of business you operate or would like to run to win this grant.
- This is a highly sought-after business grant, making the application process competitive.
- There is an application fee to compete for this grant.
Small business grants are easy to apply for and are often easier to get than a bank loan. If you’re starting a business or expanding an existing one, applying for grants is a great way to finance your project. There are many types of grants, but we recommend focusing on small business grants.