What Is a Small, Medium and Large Grant? How Many Hours Does It Take To Write Each Type?

stacks of coins representing small, medium, and large grant opportunities.

Small, medium and large.  So many things come in sizes.  Fountain drinks.  Clothes.  Starbucks Coffee (even though they don’t use the normal words!).  

Similarly, grants come in various sizes and categories as well.  Here is a deeper explanation of small, medium and large grants, from my humble perspective.

Small Grants  I consider small grants less than $5,000.  These are typically awards from private or corporate foundations to non profits.  The time it takes to write a small grant is 10 hours or less.  The application is usually a few pages, and many times applications are filled out online.  Foundations that awards these grants don’t really want a lot of information, just enough to let them know what you are doing and why you are doing it.  And, since they are a smaller amount, there may be more of them available from a funding source.  Though these grants are for a small amount of money, don’t disregard them.  They can be great to offset costs of smaller items like supplies or books, or for components of a program that will impact only the organization and the immediate community it serves.  

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Medium Grants – I categorize grants from $5,000 to $50,000 in the “medium size” category.  State or local governments and private or corporate foundations are the usual sources of this grant funding and both for-profit and non-profit organizations can get medium sized funds.  It can take 10-25 hours to write these grants.  The applications for these grants are more complex than the small grants, and can be up to 20 pages.  Applications can usually be filled out online.  The funders want more information for medium than small grants, including management team capability, hiring projections, detailed budgets, and a better, more in-depth explanation of the activities.  These grants are more competitive than small grants, but not out of reach for manufacturers.  Most recycling, exporting and training grants fall in the medium grant category for manufacturers, and funders like to see a local or regional impact resulting from these programs.

Large Grants – These are grants above $50,000.  Funding for these grants is primarily from the federal government to both non-profit and for-profit companies, but larger corporate and private foundations (i.e. Gates Foundation and Kellogg Foundation) can also award these grants.  It takes 30 to 120 hours to write these grants, and the time spent is largely dependent on the complexity of the application.  Federal and large foundation applications take a lot of time, as they request a LOT of detail, including financial statements, research plans, and commercialization plans. These grants are VERY competitive, with many times a handful of awards being provided nationwide.  Manufacturers can apply for many federal  programs (and even some large foundation programs) but are usually the lead or part of a partnership with other entities such as higher education, economic development groups and trade associations.  Large grants are provided for projects with a regional or national impact.  

I hope this summary helps you gauge the level of involvement when you see a grant opportunity.  After all, knowledge is power!

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