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Grants are funds disbursed by one party (Grant Makers), often a Government Department, Corporation, Foundation or Trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or an individual. In order to receive a grant, some form of "Grant Writing" often referred to as either a proposal or an application is usually required. For more information regarding successful grant submissions see Grant Writing.

Most grants are made to fund a specific project and require some level of compliance and reporting. The Grant Writing process involves an applicant submitting a proposal (or submission) to a potential funder, either on the applicant's own initiative or in response to a Request for Proposal from the funder. Other grants can be given to individuals, such as victims of natural disasters or individuals such as people who seek to open a small business. Sometimes Grant Makers require Grant Seekers to have some form of tax-exempt status, be a registered nonprofit organization or a local government.

Intergovernmental grants facilitate:

  • Tiered funding for a freeway are very large grants negotiated at Government policy level. However smaller grants may be provided by a government agency (e.g. municipal government).

Project related funding to governments, business, communities and individuals is often arranged by application either in writing or on-line.


North America



In the US, grants most often come from a wide range of Government departments or an even wider range of public and private trusts and foundations. According to the Foundation Center[1] these trusts and foundations number in excess of 88,000 and disperse in excess of $40 billion every year. Trusts and Foundations are a little more complex to research and can be found through subscription based directories.

Most often, grants are issued by the government to students through attending post-secondary education institutions. In certain cases, a part of a government loan is issued as a grant, particularly pertaining to promising students seeking financial support for continuing their educations.

Grant compliance and reporting requirements vary depending upon the type of grant and funding agency. In the case of research grants involving human or animal subjects, additional involvement with the Institutional Review Boards (IRB) and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is required.

Europe (EU)

The European Commmission (EC) provides financing through numerous specific Calls for project proposals within Framework Programms (FPs) and beyond. The Seventh Framework Programme is currently in progress.

In March 2000, the European Council created the Lisbon Agenda—the aim was to ensure that Europe becomes the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. The success of the agenda depends, in part, on the strategic and targeted use of technology.

Many source websites exist to publicise EU grant information for small and medium enterprises (SME) and public sector organisations - an example is European Union Grants Advisor.


There are quite a few grant giving organisations in Ireland, but IRCSET and SFI are the best for Research Grants.


Denmark has a educational universal grant system, SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte, the State Education Fund). It is available to all students from 18 years of age and all age groups currently taking courses. There are two systems of SU.

  • Youth Education (Ungdomsuddannelse), available to all students in pre-university educations (upper secondary education).
  • Higher Education (Videregående Uddannelse), available to all students in post-secondary (higher education). This system is a coupon grant valid for 5 years and 10 months from beginning higher education.


Grants are made available in the United Kingdom for a variety of business, charitable and research purposes. The biggest grant distributors are government departments and agencies which offer grants to third party organisations (often a charitable organisation) to carry out statutory work on their behalf.

Other major grant distributors in the United Kingdom are the National Lottery, charitable trusts and corporate foundations (through Corporate Social Responsibility policies). For example Google contributes to the grants process through its Google Grants programme, where any charitable organization can benefit financially from free AdWords advertising if they share Google's social responsibility outcomes.

Grants are time limited (usually between one and three years) and are offered to implement existing government policies, to pilot new ways of doing things or to secure agreed outcomes.

Over the years the discipline of writing grant bids has developed into a specialised activity. Many organisations employ fundraising professionals to carry out this work. In the United Kingdom the fundraising profession is governed by The Institute of Fundraising. The grant writing process generally includes search, proposal and accounting for competitive grant funds. Traditional search methods - for example referring to the Charities Aid Foundation Directory of Grant Making Trusts - are quickly becoming replaced by online fundraising tools. Nevertheless the proposal writing process remains much the same with the onus on the applicant to demonstrate how a grant will make a positive difference. There are a number of online grant directories available to UK fundraisers. Many are subscription based.



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