Step 1

YOUR BUSINESS CAN GET FREE MONEY, but the trick is knowing how to get it. Here is step 1 in  grant-seeking techniques for obtaining public or private funding.

Your Business can get free money but you need a certified grant writer. If you are looking for money for an existing or new enterprise, you will need a plan of attack because their will be  difficulties finding grant funding, but it’s not impossible. Grants from the federal government or states are generally given to  organizations for programs and services that benefit the community or specific group of the general public. Most funding institutions don’t provide grants to individuals who will use the proceeds to start or develop a for-profit business.

As with any rule, there are exceptions. But usually when an individual does secure a grant that assists his or her enterprise, it is typically for a very specific objective—such as developing products that improve the quality of healthcare—and not general operating purposes, says John G. Porter, Ph.D., a certified grant writer (CGW) and executive director of the American Grant Writers Association. Various government agencies offer grants for business activities that fit their specific missions.

Last year, Durham, North Carolina-based start-up PlotWatt, which created a service to help home homeowners save on their electric bills, received a $40,000 development grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Using existing electric home monitors and an internet connection, PlotWatt analyzes data to show how much electricity is consumed and wasted. This lets homeowners know exactly how much each household appliance is costing them—from running the air conditioner to using the clothes dryer.

PlotWatt’s grant application bested hundreds of businesses applying for the North Carolina Green Business Fund, which awards individual grants totaling up to $500,000 for the select purposes of saving energy, generating renewable energy or promoting energy efficiency. For Luke Fisback, founder and CEO of PlotWatt, the first step in writing a winning grant proposal he says was to “thoroughly read and reread the grant application, which was posted on the internet.”

Fishback believes that most grants very explicitly state how to meet their requirements. “You have all these check boxes to go through when applying for grants. It is important that you follow the rules and you don’t leave any box unchecked,” he says.

A crucial second step: Fishback contacted the administrator of the grant to find out if there were any additional training sessions. “I attended one of their information sessions to learn about the do’s and don’ts of this particular grant.”

No matter if you are seeking government or private funding, a well-written grant proposal clearly states your objectives, sets forth a plan, and provides a realistic budget.

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