Never in my entire 25 years of working with entrepreneurs have I ever seen so many grants for business owners. Driven by the pandemic and a desire by large corporations and philanthropy to support Black and BIPOC entrepreneurs after the protests against racism in 2021, there at times seems to be more grants than a Get The Bag Boss can handle. Here are my five strategies to help you get to the grant funding bag faster!
Get Organized And Put A System In Place
Often these grants are coming fast and furious! Having a plan of attach for securing the grant bag can help you to keep your submissions flowing. Some strategies to explore:
- Get help - it's intern season! Secure an intern or create a project for your tween/teen to help you get organized to stay grant ready
- Buddy up! Create a mastermind group or business squad project to help one another get organized and hold each other accountable
- Work with your bookkeeper or accountant to get your financial and tax records in order
- Create a grant calendar to keep track of application deadlines, many grants applications open annually around the same time of the year
- Join the Get The Bag newsletter and follow our social pages on IG and Facebook to keep up with grant announcements
Where The Grant Money Reside?
In 2020, I created the Get The Bag Funding Guide to track all of the grants and Covid-relief opportunities that I could find. Many a late night went into that effort. What began in February 2021 as a one-page Word document has been transformed over a few iterations into a pdf with hundreds of resources across 24 funding categories - including a section for Black women entrepreneurs. I believe it's one of the most comprehensive grant and Covid-relief resources on the market and it's currently free to access! Most of the grants represent national funding opportunities and is updated weekly by my brilliant intern.
Other avenues to source grant opportunities:
- Subscribe to newsletters of local and national business support organizations, your sorority or woman's group and professional associations, including:
- Black Women Talk Tech
- TP Insights - The Plug
- Black Girl Ventures
- Black Female Founders (BFF)
- The National Urban League
- Hello Alice
- Get on the mailing list of your state's Small Business Administration (SBA) office and SBA Women's Business Center
- Get on the mailing list of your local and state office of Minority and Women-Owned Business and economic development department
- Get on the mailing list of your local business chamber, Black or Latinx chamber and the national U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Create Google alerts for grant opportunities
- Ask your accountant, bookkeeper, business advisors or family members to keep you in mind when they hear about grant opportunities
- Pro Tip - create an account on Submittable, a platform primarily used for organizations seeking applicants, but there is a portal for those seeking grants to receive email alerts. Use this link, as it can be difficult to find.
How I Do Know What's Best For My Business?
Time is money, so it's important to establish a vetting process and be organized in your grant search, so as to allocate your time in the most profitable manner.
- Consider your business goals and funding needs? Do they align with the stated goals and mission of the grantor?
- Consider the timing of your funding needs? When will the grant awards be announced and awarded? Does it align with the timing of your business needs?
- Explore the past winners page of the granting organization if available. Are their similarities between your business and those of the past grant recipients? Be discerning of your time and don't waste time applying for grants which may not be a fit.
- BUT - don't always count your self out. Too often we as women talk ourselves out of opportunities that we are more than qualified for. If you have an efficient system for staying organized and applying for grants - go for it!
How Do I Improve My Odds Of Securing A Grant? Part I.
Stay bag ready - Often there is a very small window of time between the time the grant is announced and the application date. You will be able to apply for more grants, with less stress, thus improving your odds of securing a grant. It's a numbers game. Create an electronic file with the following:
- A professionally produced, high resolution photo of yourself - worth the investment
- Photos of your business or product
- Be prepared to create a short video making the case for your business
- A written version of your one minute pitch
- What does your business do?
- Who do you serve?
- Why is it important?
- How do you give back?
- What will you do with the grant funding that will help your business not just survive, but grow and thrive?
- Your business tax return and payroll records if you have employees*
- Your business financial statements*
- IFundwoman has a wonderful document for you to "file" all of these items and more
How Do I Improve My Odds of Securing A Business Grant? Part II.
Funders tend to have a business or charitable mission and target audience for their grant dollars. The stronger the case you can make for aligning with their purpose, the better your odds of winning.
- Know the why of the granting entity. What is their mission? What are their stated goals or their Why for issuing the grants?
- The more you can make the case for how you align with the mission of the organization and the stated goals, the better your odds.
- READ the criteria and FAQs and FOLLOW the instructions provided in the grant overview and/or application
- Watch the Get The Bag Business Grant webinar hosted by Good Work Network in NOLA
- You gotta play to win! - it's still a competitive process and there are millions of businesses searching for funding, so keep applying and don't be discouraged - just be strategic!
Now it's time for you to Get The Bag! If you've received a grant, I'd love to hear your success strategies. Drop them in the comments or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.