A small-business grant could make the difference between success and failure in your business if you’re struggling to find adequate funding.
Local, state, and federal government agencies make grants to support economic development around the country, and private organizations often provide them to support underserved communities or causes they care about.
Tons of grant opportunities exist based on the type of business you run, where you operate, who you serve, and who makes up your leadership. You just have to know where to look to find the ones that best fit your business.
Places to Find Small-Business Grants
Find small-business grants for for-profit businesses, nonprofits, and artists through foundations, business organizations, and government agencies.
A resource from the federal government, Grants.gov lists government grants, most of which support nonprofit organizations, government entities, or educational institutions.
Some government grants are available to for-profit businesses that align with agency initiatives, such as the Enterprising Women of Color grant made through the Minority Business Development Agency.
The site is a vast resource, but it’s not the most user-friendly. You can search by keyword and select among other search criteria to narrow your results. Grant titles aren’t all self-explanatory, so you’ll probably have to click through results and read more to find applicable grants.
The grant information is also difficult to decipher in some cases because it’s written for official government purposes, not the public. Most include a point of contact, though, so you can always reach out for clarification. You can also work with an experienced grant writer, who can interpret the information for you.
2. SBA Grants
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) works with community organizations to provide grants and other types of funding, usually for nonprofits and research institutions.
SBA-associated grants support nonprofit and government organizations whose work supports small businesses and entrepreneurs around the country.
3. Economic Development Administration
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, invests in local economies to encourage innovation and job growth around the country.
The EDA directory can help you find resources for small businesses in your state, including grant opportunities and loans.
The unofficial resource BusinessGrants.org keeps an updated roundup and overview of small-business grants from private organizations.
You won’t typically find grants from private organizations and corporations in government or nonprofit databases, so this resource is a good starting point to help you see more options if you run a for-profit business. It includes links to official sites for each grant, so follow those to confirm the information you find at BusinessGrants.org.
The site is ad-supported and appears to be for-profit and affiliated with marketer Dante Lee, who holds the copyright to the site and operates several similar revenue-generating sites.
5. Small-Business Financing Sites
These sites are primarily set up to help you find credit cards, lines of credit, and loans, but they also list grants when available. They even host their own grants:
- Fundera hosts the Zach Grant, which awards $2,500 for startups and small businesses.
- Nav’s Small Business Grant awards three checks to businesses each quarter: $1,000, $2,000, and $10,000.
6. Chamber of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce exists to provide information and community for small-business owners. That makes it a perfect go-to for finding grant opportunities.
Although chambers don’t typically provide grants themselves, they might list grant opportunities on their websites, promote them to members, and help you apply. Ask your local chamber about available grant resources.
7. Grants by Demographic
Some small-business grants serve communities that are generally underserved, such as women, people of color, and veterans. Government grants from the Minority Business Development Agency are one example, but some private organizations host grants, as well.
Examples of these grants include:
- Girlboss Foundation Grants: $15,000 for female business owners in design, fashion, music, and the arts in the U.S.
- National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Scale-Up Pitch Challenge: $50,000 grand prize and smaller prizes for runners up to support NBMBAA member startups.
- Amber Grants: Monthly grants of $4,000 to women-owned businesses in the U.S. and Canada, and an additional $25,000 grant at the end of each year to a monthly grantee.
- Cartier Women’s Initiative Grants: $30,000 and $100,000 grants to early-stage for-profit businesses anywhere in the world.
- VA Small and Veteran Business Programs: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs puts money into veteran-owned small businesses by setting aside some of their contracts for these businesses. They’re not traditional grants, but the programs help small businesses gain contracts without competing against big companies.
8. Artist Grants
Artist grants from foundations that support writing, performance, and visual arts could help your business if you primarily earn money as an artist. You have to get creative to find arts grants for your small business, but you could find a fit through foundations in your field
These grants are usually for individuals rather than businesses or organizations. They usually exist to fund a single project, not your business in general.
Examples of these grants include:
- Shirley Holden Helberg Grants for the Mature Women: Three grants of $1,000 each in arts, creative writing, and music to women 35 years old or older.
- Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grants: $500 to $1,500 grants for women writers and artists for projects focused on intersectional feminism.
- Artist Grant: One $500 grant per quarter to an artist working in any medium and style.
9. Grants for Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofit organizations have the most options for grants because grant organizations often want to support the issues they focus on.
To discover grantmaking organizations that fit your nonprofit, the National Council of Nonprofits recommends these grant-search resources:
- Foundation Directory Online (FDO). This comprehensive database includes information on 189,000 U.S. grantmaking foundations.
- GrantAdvisor. Read anonymous reviews of foundations and find grants.
- GrantScape. Search foundation and government grants for nonprofits.
- GrantStation. Search the site or sign up for the site’s email list to receive updates on new grant opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.
- Regional Philanthropy-Serving Organizations. Find the regional association that serves your state to discover local grantmakers.
10. Online Search
New grants pop up frequently as foundations and corporations create funds to support new types of businesses. Chances are, you can find a grant on the Internet that fits some aspect of your business — where you live, the service you offer, who’s among your leadership, or the audience you serve.
The simplest way to find small-business grants for your organization is to use a search engine to find matches for “grants for [characteristics of your business].”
Small-business grants are important for some small businesses that don’t have the capital funding or credit to get off the ground. Winning a grant could be a boon to your business’s success.
Grants for for-profit businesses can be tough to come by, but they do exist. Most grants aim to serve a particular community or mission, so consider what’s unique about your business when searching for grant opportunities. This narrow focus means you have fewer options but also less competition for any grant you qualify to receive.
Consider other sources of funding and support in addition to grants to give your business as many options as possible.
Many venture capital firms dedicate their funding to supporting businesses run by women, people of color, veterans, or other underserved groups. These could offer an in with investors for business owners who have typically struggled to receive funding.
The SBA, Chamber of Commerce, and entrepreneurial organizations that don’t provide direct cash do offer opportunities for education, support, development, and networking that could help you grow your business.