You may have heard the term grants tossed around in conversation as “free money,” and while this is, to some degree, true, there is a lot more to grants that you should know. It is true that they are funds that, when given to an individual or entity, they do not need to be repaid. However, there may be other conditions in receiving the funding outside of repayment that might be applicable.

Where do grants come from? Grants are funds that are given from both public and private entities. This means that there are grants that come from different levels of government as well as entities that are government funded. Many are also made available by private companies, foundations, and other for-profit entities for a multitude of purposes.

So why do people give away free money? They are often funds that are given for a specific purpose. For example, there are grants that are focused on solving certain problems. For example, there are government funded organizations that are allotted a certain amount of money from the federal government each year for the purpose of solely ending homelessness. Additionally, there are many private organizations that have corporate social responsibility focuses where they intend to make an impact on specific issues that they have identified as a company that are important to them such as financial stability, education, health etc. and they look to give funds to organizations that are working to advance these issues.

So, who can get a grant, and how do you get them? Typically, grants will be announced with their guidelines. In these guidelines, they will outline who is eligible to apply for the grant. They will also outline if there are specific ways that the funding is allowed to be spent as well as any expectations regarding outcomes in exchange for the funding. They will also outline the information on how to complete the application and when it is due by. Typically, applications are released competitively and scored according to certain criteria that has been preestablished to ensure an equitable selection process. Grants are offered to nearly everyone, for-profit businesses, non-profit businesses, government entities, and individuals, and tribal entities, but for specific purposes.

Grants are a great resource for someone seeking funding that they do not intend to pay back. They are most often given when the project, person, or business is, in some way, using the funding in a way that has a positive impact on something, even if it is for their own personal gain. They are given as an additional resource to fuel the economy, encourage the resolution for certain social issues, and to help support businesses and people thrive. Before you apply, it is definitely important to make sure that you are eligible under the guidelines that are set forth as well as to ensure that the way that you plan to use the funds is in alignment with the intention of the funding. Grants are a great resource for funding and before you consider other alternative funding sources you should see if there are any available for your intended purpose.