Welcome to Alberta Business Grants!
RELATIONSHIPS WIN GRANTS
- How you start
- Be great
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I started writing grants professionally in 2012.
Early on I learned that grant agency staff want to meet you very early in the process. Like, as soon as you get the idea in your head type early.
During that time, I learned something really important about grants: THE GRANT AGENCIES WANT TO GIVE THIS MONEY AWAY AND THEY WANT TO HELP YOU.
Just think about that for a minute.
If you’re a growing for-profit business, the government has millions of dollars that they want to give to you. They will even help you with the process.
HOW YOU START
If you’re starting grants from starch, or you haven’t applied in a while, here is a guide to get you off on the right track.
1. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GRANT AGENCY WHEN YOU DON’T NEED MONEY.
Think how annoying it must be if you work at a grant agency, and all day you have people wanting money from you.
Sometimes when you find a grant, the application is closed. Use that as an opportunity. Set up a meeting and introduce your business to them.
2. Be direct.
Don’t waste their time. My goodness when I worked at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, it was painful at times. Some people just call and talk, talk, and talk. This one-way conversation is exhausting.
Please avoid calling a grant agency to just vent.
Read over the program guide first. Study the program. All the grant answers are in the guide. These staff will have so much more respect for you.
Have an agenda set out when you meet with them.
5. Tell your story on a page.
You need to be able to answer the basic questions: who, what, when, where, why and how much. And only on a page.
Think of this exercise as your elevator pitch. If you can’t tell your story concisely on a page, you should not be calling them.
Make life easy for the grant agency. Think through your questions in advance. All the questions about your business should be written out in advance: what does your business do? Who are your target customers? How does your business align with the government mandate?
7. Mange the meeting
Make sure you have your desired headline and three key messages written out in advance. I learned this great trick from media expert Jon Lovink. If you are going to be interviewed by the media, he is amazing: http://lovinkmedia.ca/
8. Expand your circle
Politicians are kings in grants. If you’re a Canadian or American reading this sentence, you have a local elected official, provincial/state, and federal representative. Get to know them.
GIVEN THAT WE ARE GETTING CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS, ALMOST ALL POLITICIANS WILL BE HOLDING OPEN HOUSES. These events are an absolute gold mine of a venue to meet politicians. Find out when your MLA or MP is holding their open house and go. Let me know how it goes.
10. Be great
Having studied and worked in the political space my entire life, I have learned that a great person or business ATTRACTS MONEY, SUCCESS, AND GRANTS.
Sadly some politicians will sadly skip their kid’s hockey game to attend “an important meeting.”
If you’re a great organization, grant staff will be patient with you even when your applications are a mess. So focus on being great and watch the bucks roll in.
“The Secret to living is giving.” Tony Robbins – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5UVlZJIE8w
My sister Karla told me one time there are two types of people: givers and takers.
I can’t stress how important it is for you and your organization to give back. Often when you approach a grant agency, you are unknow (or not much).
Make sure you have non-profit partners supporting your application.
Remember this money is tax payer money. The tax payer needs to trust you. If the word on the street (or online) is that you’re a good company, you’ll find winning a grant much easier.
12. Once you have a strong relationship, the grant agency staff come to you with new grants. I’ve seen it happen to several of my clients. If the grant agency has a new grant coming out for China, they will let you know it’s coming first.
The return on grants is massive. A few hours up front in preparation and relationship building can yield thousands, even hundreds of thousands dollars.
Have a great day.
p.s. We offer government grant writing seminar. Join the list for our next one here: https://albertabusinessgrants.ca/grant-writing/