Government grants are one of the most popular forms of grant funding sought by people or organizations to further their goals. Entering the terms “grant funding, free government money, or free money from the government” in a popular search engine can return 179 million results.
If government grants were as easy to obtain as some advertisers would have you believe, everyone would have free money from the government. In reality, most government grants are usually offered to non-profit organizations, states, counties and cities, and minority interests such as Indian tribal governments, as well as educational institutions. Some very few RFP/RFA postings do include eligibility for individuals in tightly controlled (and extremely rare) circumstances.
Writing the application for a government grant, especially a Federal government grant, is not for the faint of heart. These applications can involve extensive background research and supporting documentation, and be over one hundred pages in length. Government grants have strict formatting requirements, strict deadlines, and their scoring (the criteria for acceptance) can be difficult to understand.
Government grants cover needs in nearly every facet of life. There are government grants offered in the fields of energy, education, housing, nutrition, rural development, medicine, law enforcement and research, to name a few.
The Federal government has made an effort to consolidate all of their grant offerings under the www.grants.gov website. The trick can be in customizing your search terms to fit “government-speak”. If your request best fits one specific agency, it can be helpful to search that agency’s website first.
Government grants also come from state and local governments as well. Visiting your state or county website or contacting their economic development officer can usually provide a starting point for researching this type of government grant. Many of these agencies at this local level get their funding through block grants from the Federal government. For this reason, the restrictions on eligibility are often the same as those of the parent program. The difference is often that the requesting organization is ultimately more likely to be able to distribute the grant proceeds at an individual level.