Grant funding – the basics explained

What is a grant?

A grant is a sum of money given to an individual or business for a specific project or purpose.

A grant usually covers only part of the total costs involved.

Grants may be linked to business activity, employment creation or a specific industry sector. Some grants are linked to geographic areas, eg those in need of economic regeneration.

The application process

Before you apply for a grant, you should ensure that you:

– meet the conditions of the scheme
– are ready to put up some of your own money or secure a private sector funding match
– need the money for a specific purpose
– don’t start the project before you get an agreement from the funding body/provider

When you have identified the right grant scheme for your needs, you will need to provide:

– detailed project description
– an explanation of the potential benefits of the project
– a detailed work plan with full costings
– details of your relevant experience and that of other key managers
– completed application forms

Pros and cons


– most grants don’t have to be repaid and are not shown as debt in your balance sheet


– the application process can be time-consuming
– there is a lot of competition
– you may have to demonstrate progress of the project to the grant body
– you may need to match funds, as grants do not usually cover the full cost of a project

Common mistakes

Your application may be turned down if:

– your area of research / work is not relevant to the body awarding the grant
– you haven’t explained how your research ideas or project would be put into action
– your proposal or application makes statements that are not backed up with supporting facts
– your research or business plan is unfocused and lacks clarity
– you haven’t communicated the impact of the work on the wider community and industry effectively
– the information you have provided in the application is not up-to-date
– you haven’t clarified the importance of the funds to the project’s success or failure
– you can’t prove that you have matched funds
– you haven’t proven your need for grant support
– your risk assessment is not thought through
– your financial plan isn’t detailed enough

If your business is declined for a grant, you can often ask for feedback on why the application was turned down to help with future applications.

Funding sources

The main groups that award grants are:

– the UK Government
– the Welsh Government 
– the Scottish Government
– the Nr Ireland Government
– the European Union
– local authorities
– charitable organisations

If you wish to know more have a look at our sister Company Going For Grants on: