Receiving a grant can change an organization forever, providing valuable funding needed to jumpstart technology development, organizational growth, or commercialization. But how do you know if your company is ready—both to undertake the often arduous grant proposal process and, if you win, to actually execute the funded activities?
Put First Things First
Grants aimed at clients in the advanced energy, transportation, and manufacturing industries will typically fund a specific project—and not your organization in general.
Typically, a project must:
- Have quantifiable, measurable goals
- Advance the goals of the granting agency
- Include a well-defined, realistic path to completion
- Bring together a team of skilled, experienced partner organizations
- Possess other sources of funding
It is also important to remember that although grants are, in a sense, “free money,” they do come with demanding reporting requirements, strict performance milestones, and lengthy lists of terms and conditions, especially when grant amounts top the million-dollar mark.
Lay the Groundwork
If you believe that your organization will be applying for state or federal funding at some point in the next year, there are several steps you can take now that will dramatically streamline the application process later—and minimize the stress involved.
As soon as possible:
- Write a one to two-page summary of the project. On a high level, consider:
- Project team members
- Roles and responsibilities
- Permitting requirements
- Scope of work
- Budget by task and team member
- Benefits to the region, state, and/or country
- Assemble one- to two-page resumes for all key project personnel from all team members
- Ask local organizations, agencies, and elected officials if they would be willing to provide letters of support once you begin the proposal preparation process
Find the Right Opportunity
Once you’ve laid the groundwork and have a project you believe merits federal or state grant funding, the next step is to find the right funding opportunity. Because each grant typically has many applicants and the application process is quite competitive, it is important to apply for only those opportunities that are a good fit your company. Otherwise you could waste a lot of time and money—all for nothing.
To learn how to find the perfect grant opportunity, check back soon for Finding the Perfect Grant.