7 reasons not to apply for grants for your enterprise.
And why they are just excuses.
Right now, I should be settling down to put together my next grant application, deadline in 48 hours and here I am procrastinating. So, what do I tell myself when I just can’t get started?
1. “Real game changers don’t need grants”. I think about the very few examples of people that have set up amazing enterprises and who tell me that they’ve done this without any grants or loans. Visionaries who somehow manage to subsist on their passion are rare and “I did it off my own back” stories should be taken with a large pinch of salt. For the rest of us, feeling overwhelmed while we’re treading an unknown path, help is on hand. Go and find support and then help your friends and peers who are trying to do the same.
2. All the time I’m writing this bid, I could be doing something to grow my business/ taking action/ developing an idea. I don’t want to count the hours I’ve spent researching grant opportunities, going to briefings, e-mailing prospective partners and then filling in application form. How much might I have achieved if I’d just put the same level of commitment into a project? Yet, writing bids is exactly the discipline needed to shape and refine projects. By the time I’ve completed an application form, I have better descriptions of products and services I plan to charge for and a ready-made list of features and benefits.
3. I feel depressed having to harp on about the deprivation/ problem/damage that I am trying to solve. Funders ask us to do this all the time and so, when we write our bids, we spend a lot of time sitting in the area of problems, doing our best to illustrate how great a need there is for our solution. When you focus on what’s wrong, it can drag you under. Keep detached and get the points down, with as many facts and figures as you can muster. Save the emotion for the solution.
4. The odds are stacked against me. I might as well give up before I’ve started. Most funders are amazed at how many organisations just try once, get refused and then never try again. When I look back at some of my earlier failed attempts to win funding, I remember the disappointment, but I also think about how much material I have for the next bid and how much better it is going to be.
5. I’ve left it too late. Yes, and…? I think most entrepreneurs, and if you’ve read this far, you’re probably on the same wavelength, have an innate understanding of just how far they can push their own deadlines. If you want to go for the application, you’ll find the time and you’ll get the application in. If you don’t truly want to do it, then you’ll neglect the task until it’s really too late.
6. It’s not that much money. It’s really not worth it. I do look at some grants and think that I am being a mug to even apply. Look at the value for money the funders are getting? Just look at the staff day rate I’ve allocated?! Then, I remember the feeling of being helped to roll out something that has made a difference. Grants enable your organisation to take risks and to step into situations where you can set something in motion that could one day be the norm. Use them.
7. I don’t want to write bids, I want to do! You’re starting to repeat yourself. Sit down and write your bid. Then, help others to do the same. Good luck.
Stephanie Karpetas works with communities, businesses and public sector organisations,
helping shape and deliver programmes that make sustainable development feasible
and fun. Stephanie has recently set up Sustainability Connections
and is working on low carbon projects in Kent and Europe. She is a Co-founder
and Director of Action
Women! Community CIC