2020 has been a year like no other for restaurants and the companies who support and supply them. Sadly, too many have closed permanently. But if your restaurant or industry related business has been able to stay open or expects to resume operations once we are on the other side of the pandemic, now may be the time to apply for a grant. Yes, a grant because they are for more than nonprofits.
Grant opportunities available to individuals, entrepreneurs, and small to medium-sized businesses across 59 industries in the GrantWatch.com database. They are offered by foundations, corporations, charities, government agencies (local, state, federal), philanthropic organizations, international entities, and even celebrities offering financial assistance. So, whether you are a restaurant proprietor of one, two or many locations, food or inventory supplier, menu designer, online reservation technology or delivery software company, this could be a viable funding option for you.
But just applying for a grant does not mean you will secure one. That is because completing grant applications to set you apart from the competition requires skill and know-how. No matter how important and innovative your initiative, new product or new process will be toward saving jobs or support across the industry or community, you must communicate your purpose effectively to be successful and become a recipient of well-deserved grant money. Below are three tips to help you win a grant award.
1. Do Your Homework
Knowing what your goals are and what you hope to achieve will not be enough. You will need to also know more about the mission and values as well as grant history of the company from previous award descriptions to past recipients. Take the time to find out their funding priorities and overall sensibilities. If you contact their grants or investment director, ask about their goals and tell them about your project to see if your vision is in line with theirs. Ultimately, by learning all you can about their past grant award program, you will have more context to frame your proposal and be better positioned for a win.
2. Showcase all Rewards and Recognition
Prepare a complete, even exhaustive, list of all awards you and your restaurant or business has received from being ranked on magazine or industry Top 10, 50, 100 lists or Best of lists to recognition as Execs and Companies to Watch to being named as the Most Innovative Solution for the year or industry, and more. Your application should include every relevant media link, press clipping, broadcast appearance and notation of all speaker and panelist roles at industry events and education conferences. Being able to show the prestige and accomplishments of your leadership and forward-thinking cuisine, products, process, and solutions, will build credibility and enhance your application to help distinguish you from other applicants.
3. First Timers Should Hire a Pro
No one likes the idea of spending money when they are actively trying to raise money but if you are pursuing grant funding, especially for the first time, this will likely be a smart investment and here is why. Grant applications require much more than “we are a restaurant serving French cuisine and hope to expand.” In fact, because of the nature of grants (vs. loans which need to be paid back), applications are long, involved and require an ability to communicate with facts, figures but also the heart. Since most professional grant writers can be engaged on a freelance basis, this is an expense that could prove well worth it. But whether you work with a pro or write on your own, the passion you feel toward your business, employees, customers, and goals must jump off every page while being succinct and focused. The time is now to explore grants.