Get LGBTQIA+ grants for your business with these tips
For LGBTQIA+ business owners, celebrating National Pride Month is an excellent time to learn about grant opportunities that can benefit your business and expand your reach. Thankfully, there are plenty of institutions that want to uplift queer businesses across the country.
Don’t let Pride Month pass you by without learning about grants for LGBTQIA+ businesses. With some preparation and research and a financial plan, you’ll be ready to boost your business with fantastic funding opportunities.
What is a small business grant?
A small business grant is any designated money given to a small business owner or organization. Unlike a loan, you don’t have to repay a grant—whatever money you are given, you get to keep. However, the institution providing the funding may stipulate how you can use the grant money.
Small business grants almost always come from institutions, not individuals (although individuals sometimes contribute to grant funding, too). Most small business grants come from institutions like:
- Federal government departments
- State and local governments
- Private corporations
- Non-profits, foundations, and charities
To receive a grant, qualifying businesses must submit applications that demonstrate their business’s value.
Above all, grants usually exist to support a cause—such as aiding minority representation, funding education, and supporting artistic productions. The goal of LGBTQIA+ business grants is to aid business owners who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer individuals in their entrepreneurial ventures.
How to apply for an LGBTQIA+ business grant
Grants can provide vital funding to help your business flourish. However, applying for grants can be a little more complicated than just requesting the funding. A grant application typically requires some up-front preparation, time, and resources.
Use the following steps to put together a successful application for an LGBTQIA+ business grant.
#1 Research where to apply
Even if you only apply to LGBTQIA+ business grants, each grant you apply for may require different components and follow different application processes. For this reason, it’s essential that you choose the grants you’ll apply to before putting together an application.
Grant organizations usually have tight eligibility requirements for their applicants. As you research grants for LGBTQIA+ business leaders, you’ll want to ensure your business is a match for that grant’s specific industry or interests.
Fear not, however—funding opportunities exist for all kinds of businesses. For example, queer business founder Jordaan Arledge received a business grant in 2019 to support their comic book publishing business, Arledge Comics. The grant, Arledge said, provided the necessary support to continue making and publishing inclusive comics:
“It started as a hobby and quickly turned into a profitable hobby and then evolved into a small business with the right help.”
LGBTQIA+ grants to start your search
Not sure where to begin your grant search process? Check out these top private grants for LGBTQIA+ small businesses across all industries:
- David Bohnett Foundation – This foundation has given money to LGBTQIA+ community leaders since 1999, offering almost $1 million last year. Grants range from $500 to $1000.
- Coca-Cola Foundation – If you work in sustainability, consider the Coca-Cola Foundation’s grant for implementing sustainable systems in underprivileged communities.
- Open Meadows Foundation – Aimed at supporting women and girls, Open Meadows helps direct funds towards sexual equality across the world. Grant budgets can go up to $75,000, and they prioritize small companies.
- Arcus Foundation – This social justice organization funds LGBTQIA+ equality initiatives across the world. Last year, they gave $15 million to organizations that supported this goal.
- Astraea Lesbian Foundation For Justice – Astraea supports all LGBTQIA+ communities fighting for social equality. Special grants include funds for intersex equality, arts programs, and international projects.
- Backstage Capital – Backstage Capital is spearheading change in the venture capital industry by investing in companies led by underrepresented minority groups, such as women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ leaders.
#2 Understand the requirements
Once you’ve chosen which grants to apply to, you’re a step closer to earning those funds. But before diving in, it’s important to understand all the steps the grant application process may require. Many grants require a multi-faceted application, supporting documents, and follow a strict timeline.
Consider these factors before beginning the grant application process:
- Application timeline – The grant application process will most likely require you to submit your application by a certain deadline (unless they accept rolling applications). Between the time you apply, find out if you won the grant, and actually receive the money, you can expect a wait time of 3 to 6 months for government grants, and up to 12 months for others. For this reason, some grants are better suited to fund long-term initiatives rather than short-term projects.
- Required documents – For business grants, you may need to support your funding request with a variety of documents, such as those detailing your business’s financial history and projections. The more official and thorough your documents, the better.
- Business plans – Most institutions won’t just give money to any small business without an idea of how they plan to use the funding. You’ll most likely need to demonstrate your business’s value to grant givers through a complete and thorough business plan.
- Continual contact – Some grant applications require follow-up, interviews, and meetings before the application is complete. Make sure you know when and how to contact the funding institution if needed. They can also be a valuable resource to clear up any questions you have about your application.
- Consultant needs – If your small business doesn’t have the capacity to manage multiple grant applications on its own, consider hiring a consultant. Grant consultants can help you research, shape, and direct the grant application process. Keep in mind that you may need to supply your own funds to cover consulting fees.
#3 Assemble your grant proposal
A fine-tuned grant proposal can help you take your LGBTQIA+ business grant application from average to exceptional. Your business plan helps to show your business’s promise and that you have a specific purpose for any funds you receive.
Almost every small business grant requires these materials:
- Cover letter
- Executive summary (overview)
- Needs assessment
- Project description
- Supplemental documentation
To stand out, you’ll need to provide accurate, detailed, and achievable goals in your application. Similarly, you’ll have to highlight just how your grant proposal applies to LGBTQIA+ causes or supports your LGBTQIA+-owned business.
To craft an outstanding proposal, it can help to look at each of the components in greater detail.
Having a clearly defined mission can make a big difference to LGBTQIA+ grant institutions. After all, they are looking for an applicant that aligns with their goals—to diversify the business world and uplift LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.
Most grant applications will include a section asking you to describe your business’s mission and, more specifically, what you hope to achieve with this grant. Beyond earning profits, consider how you might respond to these questions:
- What is the history of your small business?
- What does your company hope to accomplish in five years?
- What community and people do you serve?
- How will your business give back to its community and employees?
- What problems or issues do you hope to solve?
- Why should your business be a grant recipient?
Grant proposal and purpose
Nearly all grant applications will require a Request for Proposal—a statement listing the amount of money your business requests and how you intend to use it.
Before you begin the application, ponder how this grant could help your business. You can do so with the aid of the following questions:
- What will this grant help me accomplish?
- Where would I like to invest any given money?
- Which part of my business needs the most financial help?
You may also want to consider whether you’ll use the grant to cover other business expenses, such as:
- Equipment and supply costs
- Technology needs
- Payroll and staff needs
- Travel expenses
- Product or service development
- Contractors or outside assistance
- Startup or working capital
As you craft your business grant proposal, keep in mind how the funding can bolster your business as an LGBTQIA+ resource for your community, too. Penny Baldado, the owner of Oakland, California restaurant Café Gabriela, shared how a grant allowed the restaurant to continue welcoming their community during the pandemic:
"As a trans-masculine and queer, immigrant person of color, I’ve worked hard and put all my love and energy into building a beautiful and welcoming space in Café Gabriela. I’ve remained resilient through COVID, and this grant is the injection of funds that we need to continue along our journey to full recovery."
Not sure how you can extend the benefits of any potential funding to your community? Reach out to ask your neighbors for input through your online platforms, like a Nextdoor Business Page.
Grant applicants must also demonstrate a true financial need and responsibility. This information proves to grant givers that the grant will not only have a sizable impact on your business, but also that you’ll know how to use the funding effectively.
For most business grants, institutions often request documents covering your business’s past and future finances. Come prepared with these materials to support your business’s financial trustworthiness:
- An income statement
- Your business’s statement of cash flows
- A balance sheet history
- Your projected financial goalposts
- Any loans, investors, or other given money you’ve received
- The proposed budget for grant funds
#4 Certify your LGBTQIA+ business
Did you know that you can officially register your small business as an LGBTQIA+ institution? Consider this the professional equivalent of hanging a rainbow flag outside your window.
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is a global advocacy group that supports commerce led by the LGBTQIA+ community. With over a hundred major corporate partners, it has the financial backing to support many small businesses across the country. One of the best ways they do so is by certifying your company as an LGBTQIA+ Enterprise.
As a certified National LGBT Chamber of Commerce business, you obtain access to opportunities like:
- National recognition and listing
- Mentorship programs
- Invitations to Business Builder networking events
- Connections to investors, lenders, and grant foundations
Find your local support with Nextdoor
As a small business and LGBTQIA+ leader, financial support can be key to making strides and serving as a resource to your community. But aside from funds, all small businesses depend on another crucial form of support—their customers.
When you’re seeking to grow your small business, there’s no better way to connect with your neighbors than through Nextdoor. At Nextdoor, we’re all about supporting our LGBTQIA+ neighbors.
Consider your Nextdoor Business Page as a billboard, messenger, and advertisement all in one. By connecting with customers, you can expand your business and become an integral part of your local landscape.
EveryQueer. 20 Grants for LGBT Entrepreneurs. https://everyqueer.com/20-grants-for-lgbt-entrepreneurs/
Forbes. Small Business Grants: How To Get Free Money. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business-loans/how-to-get-a-small-business-grant/
Get Fundid. What Documents Do You Need to Apply for a Grant? https://www.getfundid.com/learn/what-do-you-need-to-apply-for-a-grant
The Balance Small Business. How Long Does It Take to Get a Grant Proposal Approved? https://www.thebalancesmb.com/time-for-grant-proposal-approval-2502178
US Chamber of Commerce. How to Write a Grant Application for Your Organization. https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/grant-writing-guide
GrubHub. Three LGBTQ+ Restaurateurs Awarded $100K Grants from $2 Million Covid Relief Fund https://about.grubhub.com/news/three-lgbtq-restaurateurs-awarded-100k-grants-from-2-million-covid-relief-fund/
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. https://www.nglcc.org/
Kitsap Sun. 'We're making inclusive comics:' Port Orchard-based queer comic book publisher gets nationwide grant. https://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/2021/11/29/locally-owned-arledge-comics-gets-funding-award-for-queer-businesses/8690639002/