Grants for Food and Beverage Guidebook
Top mistakes to avoid when writing Food & Beverage grant applications

Here are some of the top mistakes to avoid when writing Food & Beverage grant applications.

Trying something new is bound to have a certain level of trial and error. Unfortunately, the same thing applies to grants. Researching, writing, and managing grant applications can cause some trouble for first-time applicants. While Food & Beverage is one of the most lucrative grant spaces, it’s also among the most competitive. This means that although there are lots of grant programs available, the slightest mistake in your application could jeopardize your chances of approval. Here are some of the top mistakes to avoid when writing Food & Beverage grant applications. 

1. Trying to find funding only when you need it

It’s easy (not to mention fun) to browse the available grant programs in times of financial security. However, if you are only looking for free grant money when you need it, you may miss out on a program or opportunity that is the best possible fit for your business. We recommend always paying attention to what’s out there whether or not you are in need of support. This proactive approach could inspire new business ventures if you see a new program that catches your eye. Check out what sort of available funding the Grant Genie can find for you through our GetGranted service!

2. Trying to put a square peg into a round hole

Sometimes, the project you have a vision for just won’t fit the guidelines of the program you are applying to, and that’s okay! New Food & Beverage grants come around all the time and if one program isn’t going to work for you, then don’t force it. Making your business or project fit into the grant criteria will make it difficult to write up, and more difficult to report on. This is another reason to spend time looking for funding programs throughout the year. 

3. Forgetting about the program requirements after you receive an approval

Getting that approval notice is a significant achievement – your hard work has paid off. Even one approval in Food & Beverage grants can result in major progress for a business. Beware though! Businesses that don’t outsource help with their grants tend to forget about what comes after approval. The dreaded claims! Most Food & Beverage grants work on a “claim-back” basis, meaning you are reimbursed for expenses once you have paid for them and submitted the required documentation. If you don’t follow the reporting requirements to a tea, you risk not receiving all the funding. Keeping all the documentation and information from the program saved and on hand is an important piece of the grant process. The hard work doesn’t end after submission, in fact, most of the work is in the reporting phase. 

4. Errors in claims and reports

As we’ve just mentioned, the post-approval phase can be challenging without the support of a grant consultant, especially when programs dwell on the details provided in your reports (which, believe us, happens a lot). The worst thing that can happen after you’ve put all the work in to apply for the grant and get approved is to not receive all the funding because the claims and reports were inaccurate. Be sure to follow all the requirements as listed in the Applicant Guide to keep a good reputation with the program. 

5. Waiting until the last minute to hit ‘submit’

As busy as we know many Food & Beverage businesses are, it’s common to wait until the last day or even the last minute possible to submit an application. This is a dangerous game! It’s best to apply as early as possible because:

  • Many programs are first-come-first-served and so applying later on in the application window will mean there are fewer funds to be awarded overall. 
  • Based on this structure, a program may run out of funding before you are ready to apply, and you will be shut out from funding until it reopens. 
  • In any application, there will be administrative or technical challenges that you are not prepared for and will need time to navigate. It’s best to give yourself as much time as possible to deal with unexpected complications.

6. Thinking that the work ends at submission

It’s a common misconception that the hardest part of securing grant funding is the application process. The majority of the work (and headaches) come in the post-approval phase when you’re dealing with reporting requirements. It’s important to know this going into it. If you barely have time to put the application together, you’re going to find yourself strapped for time come approval. If you don’t have the resources available to manage your grant applications, outsource to experts so you can get your funding worry-free. 

7. Forgetting what your goals are

As mentioned, it can take time for approvals to come through, and sometimes your business is in a completely different place when you get approved compared to when you submitted. We recommend keeping your desired project outcomes in mind even as you are waiting for approval. Think about how you can still make the impact you intended when you are executing your project. 

8. Writing your draft in the application portal

Time for a hot tip! Always do your project write-up on a separate document that you can trust to save and have a backup in case you lose your progress. Nothing like a computer crash that wipes your progress to take the inspiration out of applying for free money. Additionally, once you’re approved, you don’t always get a copy of your submission, making it hard to remember exactly what you said when you need to report on the outcomes of your project. 

9. Thinking R&D is new product development

When applying for R&D specific grants, it’s common to think that awarded funding can be used for a variety of stages in new product development. This is not the case, especially for Food & Beverage R&D grants. R&D grants do not cover activities for the entirety of a new product’s life-cycle. Programs are often specific about what sorts of research and development activities they’ll cover. Research usually refers to market analysis for the opportunity to develop a potential product and ensure its viability, and development is the stage that turns that research into a product. “New product development” tends to include both the marketing and selling stages of product lifestyle. These activities are unlikely to be covered by your R&D grant.

10. Lacking correct certifications

We’ve seen this happen all too often. It’s always disheartening when you finally get approved for project funding but you are still waiting on proper production or product certifications to begin executing your planned activities. This hiccup can really slow down your project and the last thing you want to do after being awarded free money is to have to wait longer to be able to spend it! Make sure to plan long ahead so that all the necessary certifications are in place by your expected date of approval.

Next Chapter – What happens after I apply for a Food & Beverage grant?

This chapter will cover what you need to know after you’ve submitted a Food & Beverage grant application.

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