Mythbusting: 3 Common Misconceptions About Grant Funding

Grants are a fantastic way to secure the funding you need for projects that deliver public benefits. Unfortunately, many misconceptions persist about how grants function, who is eligible and the process involved in claiming them. If you're wondering what's true and false about grant funding, you’ve come to the right place. Let's debunk some common myths.

 grant myths

Myth 1: Grants Are Free Money

It’s common for grants to be portrayed as no-strings-attached loans that never need to be repaid. But despite this common misconception, coming to grants for free money will yield similar results to playing the lottery; it’s a gamble with low odds of success.

Instead, grant funding is a strategy to help finance projects that accomplish your goals and benefit the public in some way. This form of funding has existed for decades, helping communities and organizations provide a clear and measurable service, solve an agreed upon social problem and contribute to the common good.

Myth 2: Grants Are Only for Nonprofits

Grants are often associated with nonprofit and social services work, but they can also fund portions of for-profit projects. The key factor here is that there needs to be a clear benefit to the public. Think of things like:

  • Stimulating the economy
  • Creating jobs
  • Conducting innovative research
  • Growing green energy sectors
  • Supporting veterans
  • And much more

These “public benefits” are decided by municipalities, states and the federal government. In grant application programs, these public bodies name the problems they want to solve, how they'd like them solved, who qualifies to solve them, the grant money available to help solve them and the process to apply. 

Private foundations follow a similar path. Since they are not funded through tax dollars, they have the freedom to privately define their “benefit.” This may result in more broadly defined problems and solutions. 

Myth 3: Grants Are Quick and Easy

Grants are not fast money!

If your project is in crisis or you need money right away to pay back investors, grants aren’t a good option. As a general rule, grants should not be seen as funding opportunities for those who need access to cash quickly.

The time period between when you first start looking for grants and when you receive grant funding can vary widely. This process is neither quick nor easy. To give you a rough idea of what to expect, here’s a typical grants timeline:

1–3 WeeksInitial call and information gathering
30–45 DaysStrategic research process and presentation
30–120 DaysApplication composition process (some funders require a preapplication or letter of intent before submitting a full application)
30–180 DaysFunder decision
1 Month – 5 YearsFunder payout (some funders pay out in lump sums; others distribute funding over time)

Conclusion

Grant funding isn't a magic solution for financing woes, but it is an incredibly valuable tool. If your project promises meaningful impacts for your community, and you have the dedication to see the grant process through, it could be the ideal way to unlock crucial resources.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my project have a clear and measurable public benefit?
  • Could it be done bigger, better or more affordably with the help of grant funding?
  • Do I have the time to invest in the long-term return of the grants process?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, you might have a high-impact grant-fundable project! 

Of course, there are always gray areas. The best way to determine if your project could be eligible for grant funding is with a complementary grants project analysis. Get started today to find out how grants could elevate the impact of your work!

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