What Are Project Grants?

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Goverments and foundations offer project grants to solve scientific problems.
Goverments and foundations offer project grants to solve scientific problems. (Image: scientist image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com)

A project has a defined beginning and ending, which contrasts with service or manufacturing activities. Grants become available to solve a problem, complete an activity or create a product. Most grants are competitive and require a proposal to apply for money. Project grants require measurable objectives to be achieved within an allocated budget and time frame.

Types

Government departments and foundations offer project grant opportunities. The federal government has a program of research projects to meet government needs called Small Business Innovative Research grants and National Science Foundation grants. These project grants have phased funding with an initial grant to prove concepts and multiyear grants to move research into products for the government and commercial market. Foundations make project grant funding available to schools and nonprofit organizations and might fund project grants for planning and starting a major project. Foundations typically do not fund for-profit companies.

Process

Getting project funding through a grant begins by identifying potential sources of funding. The U.S. government lists federal grant opportunities covering 26 agencies. The Foundation Center offers an extensive guide to funding opportunities and SRA International provides online resources to find funders. Once you identify a potential funding source, find out the date to submit an application and the requirements to receive funding. Write and submit a grant meeting all content and topic requirements.

Grant Contents

Each grantor requires information submitted in a specified format. In general, a project grant tells the grantor about your organization including a mission and purpose statement. You should describe in detail how the requested funds would be used by your organization and the benefits gained from your successful project execution. Some grantors accept letters of endorsement about your ability to achieve goals on similar projects. Other grantors, especially on research grants, prefer to see key personnel assigned to the project with extensive experience in the topic area.

Execution

Grantors monitor performance on project grants through auditing, reports and site visits. As part of the grant writing process or during an initial meeting with grantors, the receiving organization presents details on tasks, activities and a schedule designed to meet the goals of the funding agency or foundation. During the execution of the project grant, the organization provides reports on expenditures and accomplishments. The frequency of reporting depends on the requirements of the grantor. A contract with the funding agency or the project proposal specifies the end date of the project grant.

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