Government grants are a popular option for businesses, organizations, and individuals that need extra funding.
These programs are typically quite focused, offering funding for projects and purposes that are within a limited scope. If you’re managing one or more grants, you’re probably familiar with the complex ins-and-outs of the application and review process.
However, those who are seeking grant funds may have a less comprehensive understanding of what’s involved. You can save everyone time and effort by communicating these key points to your applicants.
Who Is Eligible
Government grants often involve strict stipulations regarding eligibility. This is one of the first things you need to communicate to your applicants. It’s time-consuming and fruitless to have to filter through applications that don’t meet even the basic requirements for your grant program. Make it very clear what’s necessary for an application to be considered.
One of the best ways you can ensure basic eligibility is to build this into your application in a very straightforward manner. Make sure the first few questions clarify core requirements for the grant and have the applicant verify that they meet these qualifications one at a time. Even if important guidelines are specified elsewhere in the the application, include them in the form of questions. This will help weed out applications that would have come through otherwise and slowed down your evaluation process. Clarity will help improve the overall quality of your applications.
How Long the Grant Process Takes
The process of applying for government grants is rarely short and simple. Make it evident to applicants that even getting their name in will be a process. This may help you weed out those who are not serious about putting in the necessary time and effort to submit a competitive application for your program.
As Entrepreneur advises, “for large federal grants, expect to spend several months preparing an application.” If you convey this timeline to your applicants at the beginning of the process, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the amount of effort that should be involved.
It’s also helpful if you can give your applicants an idea of how long it will take for the grant to pay out. Payments are notoriously slow for government grants. Businesses and nonprofits that are hoping to quickly incorporate grant money for growth and development will need a plan in place to tide them over until payments arrive.
How the Grant May Be Used
Government grants are not intended to provide free money applicants can spend at their leisure. The majority of government grants are for small businesses and organizations, which is an important point to communicate. Your grant is likely designed to provide funding for a specific project or expense. Perhaps you’re offering a government grant for students to cover college tuition but not housing. A research grant may provide necessary supplies but probably won’t cover sweeping lab renovations that aren’t required for that particular task.
Grants also set forth their own requirements for reporting. The initial grant review isn’t the only time the applicant will need to communicate with your agency. Clarify when recipients are expected to submit financial or programmatic reports and specify what these reports must contain.
Grant issuers typically require a series of reports over the predetermined lifetime of each grant. Once the closeout requirements are met and the issuer has reviewed the final report from the recipient, the grant’s lifecycle ends. You should also communicate what the repercussions are if grant money is not used properly or the appropriate documentation isn’t submitted.
Clear communication with your applicants will help streamline your grant review process, discouraging inappropriate applications early on and helping ensure those you review are of the highest caliber. Provide key information early to improve the grant process at every level.