A grant is a mechanism for governments (or other organisations) to fund ideas and projects to stimulate the economy.
Pots of money are put aside and made available to support projects for a particular purpose, usually called a ‘scope’.
Increasingly, the scope of grant funding is to promote green activities, such as improving energy efficiency or promoting biodiversity.
Businesses can apply to grants to receive monetary contributions to specific projects, as long as the project falls under the scope of the grant.
Grants vary in the level of support they offer; some grants cover the full cost of a project, while some will cover a percentage – 50% is common.
EXAMPLE - Grant funding process
A grant pot is available for businesses to invest in energy efficiency projects. A business decides it wants to install solar panels. It works out the costs and benefits of the project and completes the application form. If the application is successful, the business will receive money to help them complete the solar panel installation.
Grants offer your business a chance to access funding that does not need to be repaid.
The funding contributes toward improving a part of your business, meaning you will benefit in the long-term.
For example, many green grants are allocated specifically for energy efficiency improvements. By making an energy efficiency upgrade in this way, the project is funded by a grant AND you are saving money on operating costs by being more energy efficient.
In turn, this can free up cash for you to spend elsewhere, improving your business further.
Projects completed by grant funding can also contribute towards improving your business’s reputation.
Grant projects offer an engaging story to communicate with customers, allowing you to show off your green credentials and the work you are doing.
The following sections provide you with advice on identifying a suitable grant and applying for it. A step-by-step application example for the Community Wildlife Fund is then presented.
Identify a suitable grant
The availability of grants is constantly changing as some schemes come to an end while others emerge.
Start by using a grant portal to identify which grants are currently active and are relevant to your business:
✓ The Business Lincolnshire Grant and Support Finder shows all grants available to businesses in the Lincolnshire area.
✓ The Lincolnshire Government Grants Funding webpage gives an overview of grants available
You can also get in contact with local government support networks to receive advice and assistance on grants. Try the following:
Apply for the grant
The application process for most grants follows a very similar format.
Some will require you to submit an initial expression of interest which will include your business details and your ideas for a project.
If your expression of interest fits the scope of the project, or if an expression of interest isn’t required, you will then need to apply for the grant by completing an application form.
At this stage, it can be useful to contact the entity distributing the grant money as they can provide advice and support with the application.
Application forms vary in length and complexity. Typically, grants offering larger sums of money will have longer and more complex forms, but this is not always the case.
Community wildlife grant example application steps
The following section provides a step-by-step application example for the Community Wildlife Fund.
Grants are for between £50 and £500 for up to 75% of the total project costs, and must be used for projects that:
✓ Protect, improve or promote wildlife
✓ Promote access to and enjoyment of the countryside
✓ Local communities support and may understand
As an example, grants are awarded for projects involving tree and hedge planting, woodland improvement, village nature area creation, etc.
Read the grant scope and work out whether you could use the funding to improve wildlife or plant trees.
Choose a project that would fit into the grant scope.
Work out the costs for the project. For example, for a tree planting project, you would need to know costs for buying a tree, planting it properly, and supporting its growth. This can be the tricky part, particularly for larger projects, as you may need to speak to contractors to get a selection of quotes.
Enter your business’s details.
Write a summary of your grant project. What are you going to be doing?
Explain how your proposed project meets the three aims of the fund (see previous slide for aims).
Input your estimated project costs (worked out in step 3) and the amount of funding you’d like to apply for (remember that this can be up to 75% for this particular grant).
Input your business’s contribution. For instance, how will you make up the remaining percentage of the project costs? Will you commit your own money, your staff time, or a mix?
Submit your application! For the Community Wildlife Fund you will find out if you are successful during April or September, whichever is closest.
Start your project! Don’t forget to share your work. Use social media and other channels to communicate your work with your customers and staff.
Learn why managing sustainability is important, and how you can do it in your business.
Learn how sustainable businesses and people go hand-in-hand.
Learn how your business affects our planet, and what you can do to reduce the negative impacts.
Understand how your business both impacts, and is impacted by, your local place.
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