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How to Make Small Business Grants Work

Grants are typically provided through governments, nonprofits and other organizations to support a specific problem. While grants can be a great boost to start or support your business, they are competitive, may require considerable preparation and are not a reliable source of capital. In response to small business relief efforts, there has been a rise in the availability of assistance targeting small businesses and entrepreneurs. In addition to offering an opportunity for accessing capital, some business grants offer business development training and networking opportunities. Throughout this article are additional funding opportunities to support small businesses.  

Where can you find small business grants?  

Local small business grants can be found on government agency websites, foundation websites, social media accounts, shared via email notification and/or other postings. Many organizations that support small business development like Hello Alice and the DC Women’s Business Center have frequently updated resource lists that can be filtered by location, funding source or industry. In addition, grants can be found by frequently checking known grant databases, funding pools and signing up for newsletters from the Small Business Administration, Hello Alice and other business development organizations and platforms.  

Federal grants opportunities, like the Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program can be found on Grants.gov and are offered annually. Federal business grants administered by the Small Business Administration like the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant were linked on SBA’s website with their own application portal. Some small business grants through non-federal sources, like the FedEx Small Business Grant and Amber Grant for Women are offered on a rolling basis.  

Other business grants can be awarded via pitch competitions, crowdfunding campaigns and other business development programs. These funds are awarded through in-kind services, micro-grants or matching fund programs. For example, Gofundme’s Small Business Relief fund will provide $500 matching grants to businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 and have raised $500 on their platform; businesses fill out this form to qualify. In addition, IFundWomen provides several grant opportunities, including monthly pay-it-forward crowdfunding grants to active campaigns on their platform.  

Getting ready to apply for a small business grant  

Your proposal narrative should be the most compelling section of your grant application. It should align with the goals and description of the grant announcement, include an introduction to your business, explain how the grant funds will be used to support the business and what outcomes it will achieve. A complete and effective grant proposal should make clear your target market, product or service, the goals of the grant, and the partners and processes that will be put in place to achieve those goals.  

The SoGal Black Founder Startup grant requires only a few questions to be answered to apply. Brief grant applications like these are not typical and most applications require verification of business identification numbers, licenses, insurance, financial statements and/or other business filings that may be required locally for an active business license. Other required documents for small business grants can include a proposal narrative, budgets, and/or biographies of staff and other business partners. Federal grants are more complicated, but with the right preparation they can be tackled. Business industry codes (NAICS), D-U-N-S number and an active registration in the System for Awards Management (SAMs) are some of the additional requirements needed for federal proposals.  

Reviewing, submitting and next steps  

Preparing your grant proposal in advance of the deadline will give you time to review, seek feedback and make needed updates and corrections. Be sure to follow format and packaging guidelines, and submit required attachments. Incomplete or inaccurate information could cause delays on rejections of your grant proposal. Seek feedback and assistance from your network. The DC Women’s Business Center is available to help you craft an effective proposal. You may or may not receive the grant you applied for, but the experience and time spent will better prepare you for your next grant or funding opportunity.  

Visit the DC WBC webpage on Grant Opportunities!  

Here are some other Financial Resources for Small Business COVID-19 Relief and Recovery  

  • Apply for other Private, Federal, State and Local Assistance  
  • Banking and Credit Card Resources 
    • Check with your financial institution to see if they are offering credit card repayment assistance, credit repair or alternative favorable financing options.  
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance  
    • Disaster or Pandemic Unemployment Insurance provides cash payment benefits for individuals who have become unemployed as a result of a disaster. Contact your state’s unemployment agency to file a claim for benefits.  
  • Small Business Tax Credit Programs  
    • The American Rescue Plan extended the availability of the Employee Retention Credit for small businesses through December 2021 and allows businesses to offset their current payroll tax liabilities by up to $7,000 per employee per quarter. This credit of up to $28,000 per employee for 2021 is available to small businesses who have seen their revenues decline, or even been temporarily shuttered.  
    • The American Rescue Plan also extended the Paid Leave Tax Credit to small and mid-sized businesses through September 31, 2021. This credit allows businesses to take a tax credit for providing paid leave to employees who are sick.  

 For more information, updates and rules for small business tax credit programs visit HERE.  

The DC Women’s Business Center provides mentoring, training, counseling and access to capital. DCWBC is a small business development organization whose mission is to empower women entrepreneurs to build resilient and successful businesses in the DMV region. If you need further guidance please register for a one-on-one counseling session with our small business advisors at dcwbc.org  

The DC Women’s Business Center is funded in part by the Small Business Administration and is a program of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.  

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