Government grants are great, but the requirements are often hyper-specific, or the funding amounts aren’t that large. Big corporations will often provide small business grants to contest winners. For you, it’s money to grow your business. For them, it’s a PR win, netting loyal corporate customers and a lot of good will.
The difference here is that many corporate-sponsored small business grants involve pitch competitions or something similar. Not all do, of course, but you’ll want to be aware that applying to a corporate grant might involve more work. With that, though, comes the potential for publicity—and for runner-up prizes.
- Intuit National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Grant: Intuit, the tax preparation software company, gives small businesses a $4,000 grant in partnership with NASE. This is designed to help small businesses and freelancers take their business to the next level. Although the application period ended last year, Intuit usually gives out small business grants annually.
- FedEx Small Business Grant: FedEx annually awards grants of up to $25,000 to ten small businesses, nationwide, with its Small Business Grant Contest. You can check out past winners—and hear their words of wisdom and warning—and the FedEx site.
- Etsy Maker Cities Grant: If you’re a maker of furniture, crafts, ceramics, fabrics, art—or anything else that Etsy sellers offer—then check out their small business grant contest. Called Maker Cities, only non-profits and educational institutions are eligible. However, those recipients support small business. This is a great way to get more vintage and handmade goods into the hands of customers.
- Chase Mission Main Street Grants: Each year, Chase Bank puts aside $3 million to split between 20 small businesses—that’s $150,000 each. You’ll have to answer a few essay questions regarding your business, its story, and its community impact, and then winners are decided by a panel of small business experts and senior executives. You’ll also get a free trip to Google for a small business marketing workshop, and more.
- Visa Everywhere Initiative: Visa’s Everywhere Initiative looks for startups with innovative fixes and offered $50,000 to the final three winners.
- Marriott International’s Canvas: Canvas is a “food and drink concept lab” maintained by Marriott International—so if you’re an aspiring restaurateur in need of money, space, or advice, look no further. Unlike many small business grants, this funding opportunity is for the concept stage only.
- Miller Lite Tap the Future: This business pitch competition offers $200,000, plus seminars and additional resources, to startups.
- Sam’s Club Grant Program: Now, this grant program doesn’t directly assist small businesses—instead, it offers to fund nonprofit organizations that support small business owners. So while you can’t apply, you should keep tabs on the program and its recipients, in case of any wind up in your neck of the woods.
- Wells Fargo Community Investment: Offering grants in nearly every state, the Wells Fargo Community Investment program focuses mainly on nonprofits—but small businesses with the right criteria can qualify, too.
- Walmart Foundation: Walmart has a number of different grant programs, again mostly aimed towards nonprofits. Similar to the Sam’s Club program, you should apply if you can, but keep tabs on relevant nonprofits who might want to sponsor you in turn.
- ExxonMobil Foundation: This philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobile focuses on funding sources concerned with eliminating malaria, increasing math and science education, and investing in women’s economic opportunities.
- Coca-Cola Foundation: Similarly, Coca-Cola’s community-giving branch centers around empowering women, improving access to clean water, and fostering healthy living and youth development. If your small business doesn’t qualify under the mostly charity-centric criteria, then try to see if you can contract or cater for the nonprofit that does.
- National Association for the Self-Employed: NASE offers small business grants of up to $5,000. Just register and see if you’re eligible! Some of these grants, mentioned above, are in conjunction with Intuit.
- LendingTree: 2017 was the inaugural year for LendingTree’s Small Business Grant Contest. The winning small business will receive $50,000 to fund the needs of their growing business! (We’ve also compiled this guide to LendingTree loans, a good option for personal loans for business.)
Let us help you meet your M/WBE utilization goal. We can help you locate funding, apply for funding, and help organizations measure & report on outcomes. See our experience with grant writing and evaluation services HERE.