Lessons Learned from Securing Grants Worth $100,000 in Last Three Years
Securing grants in Canada may be all of the impetus your business needs to climb to the next level. With the extra funding, you can finally implement all of those ideas you have always had with ‘free money’. How is this possible, you ask?
Well, the first thing you should know is that the Government of Canada, while particular about how they support the growth of for-profit businesses, has tens of thousands of dollars of support for various activities. As long as your business is creating more jobs and making a positive impact on the economy, you could be eligible for a grant.
Grants in Canada are opportunities for startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and growing businesses to have access to financial resources needed to expand. Securing a grant also comes with a few perks that veer from the economic angle. It offers a certain level of prestige and standing within the business community.
However, securing grants can be a complicated process. Learning how to obtain a grant comfortably is a lifetime tutorial that requires years of experience. That is why you should allow professionals to handle your grant process.
Here at Granted, we have the required years of experience to help you with your grant application and claim process. We have successfully secured over $100,000 in grants over the past couple of years for our business alone.
Through this period, we have gathered and curated tips and guidelines that will help you secure a grant in Canada. Keep reading to find out the best channels to explore for your grant application in Canada.
Related article: Top 5 Myths About Grants in Canada
Why You Need Grant Experts
Grant experts are your best bet for securing grants in Canada. Obtaining a grant can be a complicated process. There are tons of paperwork and forms to fill that differ from the program. Also, there is due diligence that needs to be carried out and satisfy the grantor requirements. Finally, you have to be in constant communication with the authorities that are awarding the grant.
In the first place, securing grants means that you have to know when to start applying and securing grants. The government doesn’t exactly announce that a particular grant is up for grabs. You have to keep your finger on the pulse. That gets complicated for an everyday business owner to handle. That is where we come in as grant consultancy experts.
A grant consultancy will help make sure that you are communicating correctly with the grant authorities. You will be able to stay on top of changes and updates to your grant approval process. It also increases your chances of getting the right grant exponentially.
Our Experience Securing Grants: Conclusions and Lessons
Over the years, we have successfully done securing grants totalling over $15 million for different clients via over 6,500 applications. We have manoeuvred through different situations and unique challenges. This experience has taught us a few lessons that we will now tell you about. They include:
Get Your Affairs in Order
Before you start to apply for a grant, you must get your business in order. The better the affairs of your company, the better your chances will be over a long period.
You should have a clear understanding of your budget, timelines and the possible outcomes regarding funding requirements. You also want to make sure that you identify where grants may exist at every stage of the project. All of these will not only increase your chances of getting your grant approved, but also enable your business to tap into multiple funding programs.
Market Research is Important
How extensive and comprehensive is your market? Is the service you are rendering needed? You need to answer questions honestly before applying for a grant. You may think that you have the best idea with a lot of appeals, but you have to be sure. Speak to experts, talk to established persons in the industry, be sure that you are a worthy grant recipient.
Over the years, we have found that validated data is very crucial. Data concerning the size of your market, participants in the market and trends in the industry, will determine if you are a worthy grant recipient. Competitor analysis and the capacity of your company will also decide whether you can receive grant approvals.
Use of Funds
We have found that discrepancies in the use of funds can be a considerable stumbling block during the grant application process. Therefore, you must be clear and sure of your to-do list where the government grant is concerned. Have a detailed plan that shows the exact breakdown and allocation of every single dollar.
Be sure that you have valid points that are achievable and milestones that are fair and tenable. A good number of grants are milestone based. If you don’t reach desired outcomes, then extra funds may not be released to you in future grant programs.
Letters of Support Are Always a Plus
Over the years spent in securing grants worth millions, we have found that letters of support, as optional or mandatory documents, could increase your chances of getting awarded the grant in question. You can ask for a letter of support from members of your target market or from partners who would be positively impacted by your project. Typically, grant authorities rate feedback from partners and customers highly. That automatically boosts your chances of applying and securing grants.
That’s not all. You can request letters from people with a reputation in the industry. Be sure that these letters clearly show the problem and need that your company is answering in the community. The clearer your points are, the stronger your case for winning the grants will be.
Communication is Key
When it comes to applying for and securing a grant, communication with the administrators of the grant is an urgent need. You need to understand what type of grant they award, how they fund projects, and other essential criteria before putting an application together.
If you are unsure about a particular step in the grant application process, be sure to ask. Some grant applications can take several months before they are approved. Therefore, constant communication through regular email updates is essential.
Communication with the grant authorities should not stop after you receive approval. After a successful application, set regular meetings, payment dates and timelines with your grant manager. A shared document such as Google Sheets can come into play at this point.
If your application is unsuccessful, we have found that learning from that experience is essential. Meet with the program manager and understand why you got denied. This way, you can follow your weak points and fix them in the next round of applications. If it is a funding source that you can re-apply for, you can do so immediately.
Have a Concrete Plan of Action
Securing a grant means that you have to own a plan of action. You must plan before applying for a grant. Starting the process of applying for a grant a week before the deadline will ultimately lead to a rebuttal. The only exception is if the award requires a short application and zero budget. You need weeks of careful planning and scheming to prepare a successful grant application.
Depending on the type of grant, you may need up to a month to prepare for your application. For the simplest of proposals and budgets, you can manage to write out an application in two weeks. However, if you require an elaborate plan and an explicitly detailed budget, then you need to carve out time, perhaps a month to focus on writing the proposal for the grant.
Putting our years of experience securing grants worth millions of dollars for different companies in Canada into context, you need to plan your proposal months. You can start by dedicating some time every day to researching the right grant to apply for.
Once you feel like you have the right grant, ask yourself if the deadline is far away, with enough time for you to prepare the best proposal. That is why you need a grant consultant. Experts like us focus all of our productive energy on choosing and applying for the right grant for your needs.
Understand the Capabilities of Your Organization
When securing a grant, you must know your limits. Over the years, we have seen companies applying for grants that they can’t manage. Remember that getting funding is not just because you need money. Funders already know that you need extra financial help, hence the application.
Grant authorities award grants based on factors such as how responsive your company was to the announcement of the grant, whether you could manage the funds based on your past performances and finally, your level of experience and skills.
You may be eligible to submit a grant application because of the industry your business falls under. However, if you don’t have the necessary skills and experience, your request may fall short. To increase your chances of securing a grant, you must have policies and strategies in place that show that you can manage the grant. You have to be sure that your company or non-profit organization is ready to take this all-important step. That is what understanding the capabilities of your company entails.
Set Reasonable Expectations
You need to set reasonable expectations when it comes to getting extra funding via a grant. A grant is not going to solve every single one of your issues. Sure it may be a part of the solution, but it will not be the one thing that keeps your business alive.
There are several aspects of setting reasonable expectations when it comes to grants. The first part is to know the type of grant that you want to apply for. This selection process depends on how likely you will be to win the grant. The second part is to have a clear idea of why you need to apply for the grant and other alternative sources of funding.
Sure, applying for a grant is an excellent source of revenue. However, you are going to need to have other sources of revenue to meet operating expenses. Relying solely on grant money automatically means that your income will fluctuate. You may win several grants this year, while the next year, you may only win a single grant.
The best way to make sure that you are in control of this cycle is to have a sure source of funding, especially if your organization is a non-profit. Fundraising events, as well as individual donors, can be a good source of income.
Throughout securing several grants for different companies, we have found that grants are useful if you need funds to meet an objective. However, if you need extra funds to pay for operational expenses, such as utilities and rent, or equipment and leasehold improvements, you are going to need an alternate source of revenue such as loans.
Related article: Canadian Government Business Grants Made Easy
In the end, there is no single tip that can prove to be the answer to all of your grant application questions. We can’t precisely say that following this unprecedented step will be the answer to all of your grant needs. It doesn’t work that way. What works for a different company may not work for you.
All in all, the lessons we have learned from securing over a hundred thousand in grants over the past few years include:
- Be sure that you are eligible to apply for the grant. It depends on its policies as well as your business type or registration status.
- Start your project before you begin to search for a grant. That is the only way to be sure that you are hunting for the right grant, there may be several to leverage.
- Be ready to defend your project. Most grant authorities will demand that you explain your project and why you need the funding.
- Your project, business or non-profit must solve an issue which the grant source is concerned about.
- Have a budget. Know how much you are requesting from the grant source and why you need it.
Authorities in charge of funding for grants require personalized proposals that answer all of your needs and questions. That is why you need a consultant.
A grant consultant will help you make sure that every step of your grant application process gears towards the successful receipt of the grant. Contact us today for all of your grant application needs in Western Canada.